Hever Castle; a day with Anne Boleyn

A do love a day trip. Particularly if it involves a castle.

And armour.

And a pub.

Our list of jaunts out of London is too short. We’ve been to a high table dinner at Oxford. We’ve jugged hare up near Cambridge. We’ve meandered down to Cornwall. We’ve stalked  the pinnacle of pub lunches at The Sportsman (Whitstable) and The Hinds Head (Bray).

But there haven’t been nearly enough moats.

Bring on a Sunday drive to Hever Castle.

An hour by car from London, south through Sevenoaks, it’s the childhood home of Anne and Mary Boleyn.

Quick confession. I’m having a little Tudor moment. It might be because I’m finishing ‘Wolf Hall‘ (a cracking read).  It might be because we’ve  indulging in a little bit of ‘The Tudors‘ on iTunes (in which we’ve discovered that ‘The Tudors’ is to history  is what ‘True Blood’ is to vampire fiction. They’re both flimsy excuses for good looking people to take off their clothes and cavort about with some occasional fantastical plot insertions).

Whatever it is, I’ve got a bit of a fascination with Anne Boleyn going on.

It occasionally rolls my mind that she must have been near my age when her head was cleaved. Witchcraft, infidelity what-have-you. The inability to ensure ‘an heir and a spare’ must have been a shocking yoke to bear. 

Like all great castles, at Hever there’s a moat. There’s some armour. There are portraits of the main players hanging on the walls (my Henry, you did like your food, didn’t you). The front door of the castle is opened by a woman in novelty costume and you can stroll through the bedrooms, musing on what might be muttered if these walls could talk.

These property is encircled by extraordinary Roman gardens and a lake. In the summer months when the weather is fine you can lose yourself in a maze, or take one of the boats out (six of which are named after Henry’s wives).

And if like us you visit on a miserable drizzling day there’s a pub with log fires just across from the entrance.

The King Henry VIII inn is  very cosy indeed. The current building dates from1647- and while it’s in a tourist location, it’s also well loved by locals. In future, I’d book ahead. Lucky for us they could squeeze three of us in at 12pm next to one of the log fires, so long as we returned the table by1pm.

That still left plenty of time for a ploughman’s and a roast.

The ploughman’s was a sturdy wooden platter of smoked cheddar, plush and pink leg ham, warm baguette hunks, pickled onions and cornichons and a sweet and jammy onion relish.

Beyond that there are Shepherd Neame ales, solid servings of sausages, peas and mash and a serviceable range of roasts of the day. The lamb comes a little past pink, but with a full entourage of Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, mint sauce, gravy and a shared bowl of steamed kale, carrots and cauliflower.

In summer you can sit out in the garden to eat, overlooking the duck pond. There are also jousting tournaments that take place in the castle grounds.

A pub lunch, gardens, a moat AND the prospect of jousting.

Chalk it up to another grand day out. May there be many more.

Day trip to Hever Castle and King Henry VIII Inn

Hever  Edenbridge, Kent TN8 7NG
30 miles from London in West Kent


Entrance to Hever Castle was £14.50
There’s plenty of parking just next to the pub.
It took us just over an hour to drive from London Bridge to Hever.
You can also catch the train from London Bridge or Victoria to Edenbridge Town Station and catch a taxi three miles to the Castle.

We hired a Zipcar for six hours.

  1. I can't get enough of movies from that time period, and your little day trip looks like fun. Thinking about that period of history, I'm always struck by how much women had to deal with- rough times.

  2. I love Hever Castle! I've been there a fair few times as it's very near to where I grew up.I think the grounds are quite lovely. It's small, as castles go, but it's homey and nice at the same time. I did find standing in Anne Boleyn's bedroom a neat experience. Glad you had a good lunch!

  3. I grew up near Hever Castle and spent many a happy day in the school holidays running round the maze, clambering over the frames in the adventure playground (wish I was still allowed in it) and pestering my mum for an Anne Boleyn pencil and rubber set from the gift shop. West Kent is such a beautiful part of the country and I feel very lucky to be from there – thanks for giving it a lovely write up! Oh, and next time I'm going to that pub after – looks great.

  4. You reminded me of a novel I read not long ago, The Queen of Subtleties that tells the story of the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn and in parallel the story of the king's confectioner. It is interesting book if you are a food lover because it describes the sweets of that time and the techniques and ingredients used to prepare them. All in all a fun read if you are into that period.

  5. My boyfriend's little brother was born with six toes (!) and it always makes me think of Anne Boleyn! Sounds like you had a wonderful day, ending in a delicious lunch 🙂

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