Duration: 8 hours from central London.
The delightful moated castle at Hever is over 700 years old, and its idyllic setting belies the pivotal role the castle once played in the most turbulent, dramatic period of Britain’s history: it was here that Henry VIII courted the captivating Anne Boleyn – a courtship that was to end tragically for Anne Boleyn herself and change the course of English history for good, resulting in a split from Rome and the establishment of the Protestant faith. Events right here at Hever Castle resulted in the monarch of Britain being the head of the Church of England, a situation that continues to this day.
The castle, gatehouse and bailey were constructed in 1270. The Bullen family – as they were known at the time – made a number of additions and alterations during the 15th and early 16th century, and many of these changes can still be seen today. By the turn of the 20th century, Hever was in a poor state of repair, but luckily the American publishing magnate Waldorf Astor funded the castle’s renovation. It is thanks to Astor’s thoughtful restoration that visitors can once more enjoy and see for themselves Hever’s many treasures.
“A day from Chartwell is a day wasted” Winston Churchill
Close to Hever castle is Chartwell, formerly the home of Sir Winston Churchill. The house has connections with Hever through Henry VIII who, it is said, stayed in an oak panelled room when he was courting Anne Boleyn.
In 1922 the delightful, rambling Victorian house was in a poor state of repair. Churchill was on the look out for a country retreat for his young family that needed to be within easy reach of the capital. Chartwell fitted the bill. His children fell in love with the place immediately though his wife, the ‘darling’ Clementine, understandably had reservations. Back in London Churchill told his family he had already purchased Chartwell. Clementine’s reservations were well founded, as Churchill’s career as a politician and as writer rose and fell throughout the 1920’s and 30’s and it was only in 1946 – when the estate was taken over by the National Trust – that Churchill’s financial worries were finally over. Clementine gave the entire estate over to the nation upon her death in 1977.
Much of what can be seen today is the work of the architect Philip Tilden, who was commissioned by Churchill. Tilden’s correspondence with Churchill suggests that Churchill was a demanding patron. In fact, the house was completed within 2 years – with additions by Churchill himself, an accomplished “brickie” in his own right: the garden wall he constructed stands firm to this day.
Also on display are hundreds of Churchill’s own paintings. Churchill discovered the joys of painting during his middle age, and many can be seen to this day in the studio. Free tours are available during the high season.
A fully guided commentary with your qualified, registered and experienced tour guide
|25th February to 31st October|
|Monday||11:30 - 17.00|
|Tuesday||11:30 - 17.00|
|Wednesday||11:30 - 17.30|
|Thursday||11:30 - 17:00|
|Friday||11:30 - 17.00|
|Saturday||11:00 - 17.00|
|Sunday||11:00 - 17.00|
|1st November to 28th February|