The very mention of the name ‘Hever Castle’ immediately sparks images of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. This fairy tale castle, in the beautiful Kent countryside, was her childhood home but was not the setting of her birth as is so often thought.
The oldest part of the castle, built by William de Hever in 1270 as a defensive fortress, consists of a gatehouse and walled Bailey. In 1451, Anne Boleyn’s great-grandfather purchased the castle and converted it into a private home. When the Boleyn family moved into Hever in the early 1500’s they added a comfortable Tudor dwelling within the walls. Anne, together with her siblings Mary and George, is likely to have spent a good deal of her childhood here prior to being sent to join the court of the Archduchess Margaret in 1513.
In 1533, King Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn. But only a few short years later, had Anne executed at the Tower of London for Treason and adultery. Her brother George Boleyn, also perished under the executioner’s blade.
After Thomas Boleyn’s death in 1539, the castle became the property of Henry VIII. In 1540 he passed it on to Anne of Cleves as part of a very generous annulment settlement that also included Richmond Palace.
From here the castle passed through the hands of several owners including the Waldegraves, the Humfreys and the Meade Waldos. In 1903 the American millionaire, William Aldorf Astor, purchased Hever. He went about restoring the castle, building the Tudor village and creating the gardens and lake.
Hever Castle is a must-see destination for all Anne Boleyn fans. Not only is it her childhood home, a place that would have held so many treasured memories for her but it’s also the home of two breathtaking Book of Hours both signed and inscribed by Anne Boleyn herself. The castle also houses 16th century portraits, furniture and tapestries.
The castle is opened daily until the 31st October.
For more information visit the Hever Castle website.