Last Easter I did the (for me) unthinkable… I didn’t plan a holiday away! Study demanded instead that I spend most of the chilly days writing essays and highlighting cases. As a treat to myself, I planned a day trip – to beautiful Hever Castle. An easy train ride from London, I was intrigued by its history as Anne Boleyn’s childhood home. However on the day I spent far more time exploring its beautiful gardens, where tulips boomed and wisteria waved in the breeze – the perfect study break!
The gatehouse entrance to Hever Castle
It’s not tricky to get to Hever Castle by train, although there’s a little bit of a walk through fields and along a road between the station and the gatehouse. I breathed deeply in the fresh countryside air and relished the rays of sunshine breaking through the clouds. Before long, I was gazing across the green lawns of Hever.
The original part of the castle was built in 1270, so it definitely qualifies as medieval. Like most castles, it has been added on to over the years, and in the 15th and 16th centuries was home to the infamous Boleyns. I liked to picture an innocent little Anne and Mary running across the grounds… shades of The Other Boleyn Girl! As I had arrived early in the day, I decided to wander the grounds before the winding paths filled with too many people, to continue my imaginings.
The Tudor Garden
I definitely hadn’t expected the profusion of colourful tulips decking out the flowerbeds – it took me right back to the beautiful Dutch Keukenhof Tulip Festival! I walked slowly, soaking in the sculptural details and relaxing atmosphere. It was the perfect antidote to my pile of law books at home.
The dramatic loggia overlooking the lake
Just a little cheeky 😉
I may be pretty useless with plant names but I know what I like – the mix of beds of bright tulips and pastel-toned corners was right up my alley. The Castle recommends you allow 1.5 hours to explore the gardens – I’d say this is plenty of time as they are well spread out – over 125 acres in total! I definitely didn’t go that far afield, but there were lots of different spots to check out, from the Rose Gardens to the Golden Stairs to the Two Sisters’ Lawn.
A flowery shoefie a la Kelly!
Blossom, snowdrops and pink bushes … perfection!
When I finally tore myself away from the gardens and headed inside, more surprises awaited. The rooms are a mix of styles, from medieval to Tudor to Edwardian. There’s a beautiful chapel, WWII photographs, and some questionable mannequins of Henry VIII and Anne – I found them mildly creepy!
The Inner Hall
See what I mean?!
While the exhibits inside were fascinating, I didn’t linger too long inside… I wanted to be back out savouring those gardens. There is a cafe and food stalls that were doing a roaring trade, but I just sat on the grass munching my apple, people-watching, and soaking in the sunshine. Many families, far more organised than myself, had brought picnics and set up to make a day of it, for which I could only admire them.
If you’re looking for an easy day trip from London (we’ll ignore my trip back, which featured cancelled train services due to cows on the line and a car-ride with lovely strangers to a working line), Hever Castle offers fascinating history in a stunning setting. I would visit again in a heartbeat to see the colourful flowers waving in the wind, and I think it would be equally beautiful in autumn with the changing of the leaves. Let me know if you visit it yourself – link for more info here.
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