Hever Castle

Hever Castle - cottages over moat

Hever Castle, Kent

Hever Castle, Kent

Hever Castle, in Kent, England (in the village of Hever), was the seat of the Boleyn, originally 'Bullen'[1] family. It began as a country house, built in the 13th century and converted into a manor in 1462 by Geoffrey Boleyn, who served as Lord Mayor of the City of London.


The original country house timber remains can still be seen within the stone walls of the fortification. Some time after 1505, the Boleyn family moved in, and Anne Boleyn (and her siblings, Mary Boleyn and George Boleyn), although probably not born here, did grow up here for a time, before she was sent to the Netherlands and then to the French court for her education from 1513 to 1521. After Anne married King Henry VIII of England secretly in 1533; she and her brother George were executed in 1536 and her father Thomas Boleyn died in 1539, the property came into the possession of Henry VIII. He bestowed it on Anne of Cleves upon the annulment of their marriage (1540), but she probably spent little time there (although she did die there). Hever Castle still has one of Henry's private locks, taken with him on his various visits to noblemen's houses and fitted to every door for his security.[1]

The building subsequently passed through various owners, including the Waldegrave family in 1557, and the Meade Waldo family from 1749–1903. During this latter period of ownership, the castle fell into a poor state of repair, during which time it was leased to various private tenants, until it was acquired, in 1906 and completely restored by the American millionaire William Waldorf Astor, who used it as a family residence. [2] The estate is now run as a conference centre, but the castle is open to the public and is particularly well known for its mazes. The only original part of Hever Castle is the gatehouse. In the castle there are exhibits from differing historical eras, including instruments of torture and a museum of the Kent Yeomanry.

Tourist attraction

Today the castle is popular with visitors, attracting large crowds especially during the spring and summer months. Most visitors are drawn for the castle history, elegant gardens and boating lake. There is a yew maze, planted in 1904, as well as a more recent addition, a water maze, which opened in 1987. The garden is large has a wide range of features including an Italianate garden, rose gardens and a lake.


  1. ^ a b Jenkins, Simon (2003). Discover Britain's historic houses. The Southeast. Pub. Reader's Digest. ISBN 0-276-44068-4. P. 43.
  2. ^ John Turner, ‘Astor, William Waldorf, first Viscount Astor (1848–1919)’, rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004;

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