Days Out: Hever Castle, Edenbridge, Kent
Sunday 01 October 2006
Famous for being the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the original Hever castle was built in the 1300s. Set in 30 acres of stunning gardens, you enter the castle by crossing a drawbridge under a raised portcullis.
There is a water maze which has a very high screech factor. The idea is that you pick your way along a stone path through a reed bed to an island grotto. But tread on the wrong stone and you will get spurted by water. The yew hedge maze is harder to get out of than you would think, and there is an adventure playground with a maze based on the six wives of Henry VIII.
The rooms are variously Tudor, Jacobite and early 20th century - the castle was also home to the Astor family in later years. There is also an armoury with weapons and torture instruments on display. The Henry VIII room (he visited frequently when courting Anne) tells the familiar story and is hung with contemporary portraits of all his six wives. Anne's signed prayer book is on display in the Book of Hours room and you can read Anne's last letter to Henry, proclaiming her innocence and begging for mercy for her co-accused. Outside, highlights include a rose garden and an Italian garden.
There are two self-service restaurants, but with this setting, you'd be crazy not to bring a picnic.
Free entry to wheelchair users. The gardens are mainly flat and have ramps, but access to the castle is via steps, and pushchairs are forbidden inside. A small number of wheelchairs can be hired.
Open daily from 1 March to 30 November, from 11am to 5pm (first castle entry is at noon). Adults: £9.80, child aged five-14: £5.30; senior citizen: £8.20; family ticket, two adults, two children: £24.90.
How to get there
Hever Castle, Hever, near Edenbridge, Kent TN8 7NG (01732 865224; hevercastle.co.uk).
By road: Hever is three miles southeast of Edenbridge off the B2026 between Sevenoaks and East Grinstead in west Kent. From the M25 take junction five or six and follow the signs. Parking is free.
By rail: The nearest station, Hever, is 20 minute walk away. You can get a taxi from Edenbridge station three miles away, both of which run to London Victoria.
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