I’ll admit I think I have an addiction to exploring castles. I’m making myself feel better by at least knowing there are worse addictions in the world. Unfortunately, this addiction can be expensive too. However, when I discovered Hever castle in the Kent countryside and found out it was practically on my doorstep my wallet was elated.
Hever Castle is the perfect day trip from London as it’s so convenient to get to. Its packed with history, beautiful grounds and activities for all. There is a certain air that surrounds all castles and at Hever castle, it is no different.
The castle’s claim to fame is not only being the childhood home of Ann Boleyn but being the stomping ground for herself and her husband King Henry VIII on several occasions.
Hever castle has been around in one form or the other since ‘1270’ and has quite a story to it. Personally, the most exciting part about going to visit the castle is the amount of access you have.
I have been to plenty a castle where you fork out £20.00 only to see two rooms and a hallway but here you get to see everything but the kitchen sink. As a bonus, you get to discover the immaculate Italian gardens and roam around the peaceful (if you block out the other visitors) lake and grounds.
Breakdown - click to jump straight to that topic
How to get to Hever castle
Just a 40-minute train journey from London Bridge, Hever Castle is easier to get to than most historical sites and is shorter than my commute to work. So, on a sunny Saturday, we headed off on our mini adventure.
We took the direct train from London Bridge station to Hever and from there walked to our final destination. We stomped through fields and dodged some traffic both from sheep and cars, passed a quaint pub turned the corner and were greeted with a queue.
Here is a map of the walk from the station to the castle. Follow the dotted lines. It’s about a mile/1.6km.
Do not do what I did and wear brand new white trainers as it’s a walk in fields with sheep grazing, which means a lot of poo. Luckily with a bit of skilful walking on my behalf, I only got away with a few grass marks and nothing else.
Reminds me of the time I went to the middle of England which will be all detailed in a future post.
Other options include and are not limited to the following:
- Trains – You can get a train from either London Victoria or London Bridge (via Oxted or East Croydon) to Edenbridge Town Station. If you chose this option its 3 miles/5km away from Hever castle so it’s suggested you take a taxi. Relyon Taxis are near the station, telephone +44 (0) 1732 863800, or Edenbridge Cars on +44 (0) 1732 864009. Apparently, it is a good idea to book in advance.
- Bus – Forget it, it’s not happening.
- Car – The castle is just as easy to get to by car with major routes available specifically, with the UK their postal code system is amazing so just pop this –TN8 7NG- into google maps and it will help you find your way. Parking is available and comes at no cost to you. Remember in the UK they drive on the left-hand side of the road.
- Plane (you’re eager) – Gatwick airport is 30 minutes away, Heathrow is one hour. Hever can then be reached by road or rail as above.
- Sea (trying to outdo the plane folk?) – You will still have to take a car or train I’m afraid to Dover, or South Hampton if you’re feeling up for a journey.
The history of it all
The property has passed through many hands to get it to the structure it is today but can be dated back 748 years when it was just a gatehouse and a bailey. Fast forward 192 years, a bit of money was thrown in by Geoffrey Boleyn and had it upgraded. Think pimp my ride but castle edition. I would totally watch that.
A couple decades later Thomas Boleyn- Anne Boleyns’ father inherited the castle, which is what the castle is most known for. Anne Boleyn was Henry VIII (an English king), wife. They both visited the castle together and his personal lock can still be seen today. Funny enough when Anne’s brother died (Anne was already killed) the castle was left to the king who then gave it to his ex-wife. The castle was sold several times after that.
What to do
The question really should be what not to do, there are so many activities available it will be hard to fit it all in one day.
The gardens open before the castle and I strongly suggest you get there at opening time to not only avoid the crowds but to get the most out of your day. There is quite an expansive garden area and is split into sections, by far the most impressive has to be the Italian gardens as they are so well manicured.
Once you have taken a leisurely stroll through the pillars and freshly cut grass you are met by a 38-acre lake with rowboats bobbing along with people struggling to navigate them in their desired direction. We opted out of the boats as I have the upper body strength of a small child and instead I used my very capable legs and walked around the lake.
You could spend hours meandering through the gardens. We certainly did. Stray from the main path a bit and you will be greeted with peaceful greenery. Who knows maybe you will even start fantasising what it would be like to grow up there. No? Just me then?
Upon arrival, you will get a handy map to show you the exact opening times on all the attractions as well as their location. Timings for Hever castle and the grounds are seasonal dependents.
There seems to always be some events going on and we happened to come on Mayday which was a very fun experience as I had never actually seen it being celebrated before. They took on a very historical outlook to the celebration.
But on to the main event- the castle, it has a moat and a bridge you guys, so it’s a proper castle. At first glance, it looks to be smaller than most castles I have seen. Strangely enough, once you cross the bridge it magically grows in size like Mary Poppins bag.
There is a lot on show with quite a bit of information for you to read along the way. I didn’t take many pictures as I was in one of my “I must live in the moment and not through my phone” moods. So you will have to take my word for it it was cool and old and felt authentic.
What else is offered.
Fancy getting married? Eating like royalty? Sleeping in a five-star b&b with a rose garden and a castle as your backdrop? It’s all available here. Their events calendar is pretty packed so there is always something to do.
It is great for a family day out, especially in the summer. There are two mazes one water one and a regular maze. Which will keep everyone entertained.
Where to eat
They are several cafes and a flower shop all conveniently located if having a picnic is not your thing. Although like most places that have a monopoly expect high prices and long queues.
From a pizza van to afternoon tea there are options for everyone so no one will go hungry. Especially if you’re in the mood for ice cream.
The 20-second breakdown
Opening times – Grounds open at 10:30am and the Castle opens at 12:00 noon. Summer closing time is 18.00 and winter closing time is 16.30. Check the website here for holiday timings and last entry times.
Entry fee – standard adult entry for both the castle and gardens is £17.25. Click here for a full pricing list for all. Buy your tickets here or look out for the 2-4-1 deals where if you buy a train ticket where you get an awesome deal.
Food – Bring your own if you want to save some cash otherwise there are cafes and restaurants on the grounds. Or a quaint pub just outside the main grounds entrance.
That’s a wrap. As always please do leave a comment down below. If you would like a copy of this article just subscribe below and get your free download.