There’s something magical about a castle. Fairytale romances, gallant chivalry, and courtly intrigues pervade the thick stone walls. It’s particularly true of a castle that was home to a wife of Henry VIII, one of the most famous kings of England. I’ve been meaning to take a day trip to Hever Castle for years, and I’ve finally traveled to Kent to see Anne Boleyn’s childhood home in all its regal splendor.
Day Trip to Hever Castle
I’m a big fan of taking day trips from London, not least because they’re a great way to escape the city and immerse myself in a different part of England.
Hever Castle is an easy one, too. A short train ride from central London, the nearest stations are a quick taxi trip or—even better—a nice country walk away through the local fields.
Now that I’m here, I find myself in exactly the fairytale I hoped for.
A moat hugs the stately stone castle and whimsical deer-shaped trees surround it. A life-size yew maze and topiary chess set add an Alice-in-Wonderland ambiance, and suddenly I’m five years old and seriously in awe of something spectacular again.
Inside Hever Castle, I tour the rooms where Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII once frequented. Many of them feature a mix of historical styles from the 16th century and the 20th, when the famous Astor family bought the castle and made it their home.
But for me the real magic lies outside the castle walls.
Beyond the hedges and topiary deer sit picture-pretty bridges and a larger-than-life water maze where children of all ages (ahem, my boyfriend) run across floating blocks that send geysers shooting into the air as they pick their way to the tower in the center.
And then there’s the Italian Garden. Of everything on the 125 acres surrounding Hever Castle, it’s by far the most beautiful. Tulips of every shade line expansive landscaped lawns while giant urns overflow with the excesses of spring.
Hedges surround secret reflecting pools, and at the very end of the garden a loggia overlooks a placid lake. It’s straight out of a fairytale, only this time I’m in it.
And maybe that’s the best part about Hever Castle. Sure, it’s nice to imagine the intrigues of Anne and Henry all those centuries ago. But it’s even more fun to live the fairytale today.
Have you taken a day trip to Hever Castle? What did you like best?