Sweetbriar Dreams

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Friday, 12 May 2017

The Exquisite Hever Castle, Kent - Part 1

The trouble with having a blog break is the problem of how to start writing again.  I can't believe it's been nearly a month since my last post and yes, I relaxed and enjoyed a very impatiently awaited trip to Kent again.  With my camera card full to brimming with these latest trips it is time to start writing once more and gather my thoughts for this little corner of blogland along with showing you the amazing history I have captured.  So, let's start with a beautiful gem, Hever Castle.  The usual drill dear Readers, cup of good old English tea and a milk chocolate digestive, this is a picture heavy post, so maybe two biscuits as a treat!  Ready?  Let me take you by the hand to a place so important to the ill fated Anne Boleyn and of course, Henry VIII.

This was a place I visited when I was knee high to a grasshopper and certain parts made my memory jump into life with things that I thought were long lost.  The camera clicked with satisfaction once again and questions were raised in my mind of the history that surrounded me.  So, if you're ready, let's start inside.

Hever Castle was borne in the 13th century and the instantly recognisable family name of Boleyn lived in the house from 1462 to 1539.  In her early life, Anne Boleyn, the famous second wife of Henry VIII who was Queen for just 1000 days, lived in the Castle with her father and later, after Anne met her barbaric end and Jane Seymour (the third wife) had died, the castle passed to Henry's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves after Anne Boleyn's father died in 1539 and was used as part of the settlement to annul the marriage to Anne of Cleves.

The gatehouse is the oldest part of the castle and dates back to 1270 and looking through the mullioned and transomed windows filled me with the romance of whether the lady herself had looked through this glass.  Probably not, but still filled my exploratory mind with these thoughts.

In one of the upstairs rooms, a room is described as Anne Boleyn's bedroom.  I felt it was maybe a little small, but maybe because this part of her bed was HUGE!

The carvings so tactile and the date... 1520.  Stunning but after trawling for more information it is thought that this is in fact 1600, but I like to think they have this wrong!

Another bedroom and we enter what could possible be Henry VIII's bedchamber where he stayed while courting Anne Boleyn.  The wood panelling again ancient and the bed itself dates from 1540.  This is a 'tester' bed due to the wooden canopy above it.

The ceiling above us is the oldest in the whole Castle and is reported to date from 1462.  Simple, unassuming, clean lines, historical and a place that makes my mind work overtime with the centuries of people that have walked and slept beneath it.

A recently discovered Panel stood proudly on display in one of the rooms.  The Anne of Cleves panel.  This is one of two that still exist with the other in the Museum of London and dates around 1544.  It is also seen to be the inspiration for her tomb in Westminster Abbey.  

Each room was full of incredible history and walking through each door made us feel comfortable.  Each room felt homely and calmly enriched our minds with our love of history.  The Dining Hall with its mid-17th century walnut chairs and 16th century oak table, the full set of armour and place settings all ready for a dinner party in stunning surroundings.

The Long Gallery was used in the 16th century to entertain the many and honoured guests, however the ceiling is 20th century due to the magnificent reconstructive work by Nathaniel Hitch.

Above the entrance hall is this beautiful gallery, the Staircase Gallery, which was by Thomas Boleyn.  It spans between the two wings of the Castle and is full of beautiful paintings and furniture.  Can you imagine the exquisite dresses sweeping across this wooden floor.

The patterned windows and the thickness of the stone walls keeping everything warm and weather tight.

In 1903 William Waldorf Astor (who was the richest man in America) started the restoration of the Castle and created the Astor Wing along with the lake and gardens.  This is now used as luxury bed and breakfast bedrooms!

The Astors' spent so much on the restoration, so it's only right that they had their own luxuries, something that we can only dream about, but for those who have been reading me for a while will know how much I love a booked lined room with comfort and calmness personified.  Imagine my absolute joy when walking into a room with my favourite coloured blooms and tidy lines of books adorning the sides.

The bookcases are taken from a design by those that adorned the home of Samuel Pepys.  I tell you what, just leave us here, curled up on the sofa, books, cup of tea, marmite on toast.  Sigh!

A close second in rooms that I adored was the Drawing Room where the oak panelling is bog oak and holly.  Beautiful!

And then, for you Winston Churchill buffs, a letter from the great man himself to John Astor.  Churchill loved painting and clearly wanted to use his time at Hever with the Astor's to pursue his hobby.

And so, that's the inside of the Castle and next time I will take you outside into the beautiful gardens, the last flush of tulips and the incredible displays.

This was one of those days that will remain in my mind forever, a perfect day, beautiful surroundings, incredible history and amazing, knowledgeable company.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and enjoy that history surrounding you.


  1. Good to see you back with such a terrific post. Your photos are brilliant as are your descriptions. I like to think of all those people who have stayed in the castle and imagine what life was like during Tudor times.

  2. A wonderful post, Chel, full of historical details that so interest me. To think of Anne Boleyn walking those same hallways is amazing. I'd like to spend a rainy day tucked up with tea and scones in that library, too.

  3. What a wonderful post. Thank you so much for showing me Hever Castle, a place I've always wanted to visit. Seeing your photos was almost as good as being there. I'm looking forward to seeing the outside.

  4. Fabulous tour and what a lovely house. Despite its size there is a very homely feel to some of the rooms.

  5. I've missed you! I remember what it was like to have a full camera card but I've been very bad about using my cell!

    That said, what a fascinating post. I love how each room is so different from the next. The huge windows and light soften all of the dark wood furnishings. I think it feels a little cozy...not what I would imagine a castle to be like!

    Thanks for a great tour, Chel!

    Jane x

  6. I've read a lot about Anne Boleyn and also Anne of Cleves and since then, I've dreamed to visit the castle and somehow, you made that dream come true!

  7. Just beautiful. Love the library room!

  8. Hello Chel, oh what a beautiful castle to visit and take photos. Thanks for sharing you wonderful visit there. I totally love castles and I hope my family and I can go back across the pond for a visit.
    Take care and enjoy the weekend.


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