Hever Castle is best known as being the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, and its general popularity as a tourist attraction also has something to do with the fact that William Waldorf Astor once lived there. Anne Boleyn was wife to Henry VIII and mother to Queen Elizabeth I, while William Waldorf Astor was a multimillionaire from America who eventually became a British nobleman. Among other things, Astor created the Hever Castle Maze and added the Tudor Village. The maze is a shrub maze and is a joy to take on, while the Tudor Village is a small village of sorts that provided housing and other amenities for Astor's guests and servants.
As is true of the many other castles in England, Hever Castle boasts a rich history. Originally built as a country house in 1200s, it became a seat for the Boleyn family between the years 1462 and 1539. When Anne Boleyn fell out of favor with King Henry VIII and was executed, the king married Jane Seymour and then Anne of Cleves. Seymour passed away twelve days after giving birth to Prince Edward, and as far as the marriage to Anne of Cleves was considered, it was annulled after just six months. As part of the divorce settlement, Anne of Cleves was awarded Hever Castle. The year was 1540.
After Anne of Cleves passed away in 1557, Hever Castle passed through various owners, each of whom added their own touches. When Astor passed away in 1919, it remained a possession of the Astor family, though the Astor's eventually sold it to Yorkshire based company. While its modern day role is primarily that of a conference center, Hever Castle is also a popular England tourist attraction that puts on fun events from time to time. Many of these events come in the form of reenactments that center around things such as jousting matches and archery displays, and the very popular Summer Festival attracts thousands every year with its performing arts entertainment.
You don't have to attend a Hever Castle event in order to have a good time during your visit. This attraction in the general London region offers a variety of fun things to do regardless of the day. While exploring the interior of the castle, you can view various antiques and relics on three different floors, and all attempts to see the Tudor Portrait Collection should be made. This collection is deemed to be one of the best Tudor portrait collections in all of England. Among other famous personalities, the portraits depict Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII, and Anne of Cleves.
In addition to a hedge maze, Hever Castle features a water maze, and should you take the water maze on, chances are good that you won't complete it without getting wet. Also found on the castle grounds is a playground for kids to enjoy, and fans of gardens will be happy to know that the Hever Castle gardens are both extensive and award-winning. In case you are wondering about the haunted side of Hever Castle, some have claimed that they have seen the ghost of Anne Boleyn wandering about the grounds. Should you be a believer in the paranormal, you just might keep an eye out.
Hever Castle is a great place for corporate and private events, and couples who are trying to plan fairy tale weddings will be happy to know that tying the knot on the castle grounds is a possibility. As for those who are planning on dropping by for a more regular visit, the castle is open throughout the year, with the main season being March 30 to October 31. During the main season, visitors are welcome on a daily basis, and the castle is generally open Wednesday through Sunday the rest of the year. 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. are roughly the hours, with slight changes being made according to month and season. Audio tours can be enjoyed for an added fee, and it possible to tour just the gardens if you please. General admission tickets include both the castle and the gardens.
As for where to find Hever Castle, it is situated in the village of Hever, which in turn is located near Edenbridge Kent. London is approximately 30 miles away to the northwest, and as such, the castle is a popular day trip destination from the English capital, which has its own attractions of this type in the Tower of London and Windsor Castle. There are shopping and dining establishments on the castle grounds, thus adding to the options for things to do, and those who wish to stay overnight can hope to secure the luxurious Medley Court holiday let. This four-bedroom gem of a house is part of the Astor Wing, and it is as magnificent as it was when it was finished in 1903. Up to seven people can stay in the Medley Court house, and any and all guests are bound to find favor with the fact that they can access parts of the castle grounds after closing time.