Family fun in and around London

BDT goes large: Hever Castle and Gardens, Kent

Posted by on Friday, 10 April, 2015 in BDT goes large, Featured, Parks, Sunny day

BDT goes large: Hever Castle and Gardens, Kent

Thanks to the recent adaptation of Wolf Hall, all things Tudor- and Anne Boleyn-related are having a resurgence; and what better place to find out more about the notorious Queen Anne, than her childhood home, Hever Castle?

Hever Castle is just 30 miles south of London, close to Sevenoaks in Kent, and as such is an easy distance for a day trip out of the Capital. The Castle sits in 125 acres of grounds and you can choose to visit the Castle and Gardens together, or just the Gardens. Having never visited before, we chose the former option, bought our tickets and set off to explore.

The first thing we glimpsed on arrival was the vast ornamental lake, created by the Castle’s 20th century owners, the Astor Family. As it was the Easter Holidays, we had been given an Easter Bunny trail to follow and this directed us to the Italian Loggia at one end of the lake, which has a lovely view across to a Japanese Tea House folly. We continued on through the beautiful Italian Gardens before emerging onto a lawn where families were picnicking and there were tents for children’s activities (making an Easter bonnet, £1).

We stopped here for lunch and our first view of the Castle itself. After lunch (and claiming our Bunny trail chocolate prizes), we headed inside the Castle. The interior is impressive in itself but there is also an interesting mix of important Tudor portraiture, furniture and armoury, juxtaposed with the Astor family’s 20th century interior design and artefacts. MJ loved the Castle’s drawbridge, portcullis, spiral stone staircases, suits of armour and all the other things that fitted with his image of being a knight.

Back outside, we spent some time getting lost in the Yew Maze and then set off for the Adventure Playground. The playground is Castle-themed, with a huge tower maze for older children to explore, climb and slide down. There is also an under-5’s play area with smaller swings and castle climbing frame/slide. Before heading home, we visited the Water Maze (another Astor creation), which has paving slabs that tilt and cleverly squirt water at you as you try to reach the maze’s central tower. The maze was full of drenched children having the time of their life – bringing towels and spare clothes/shoes is recommended, we went home with some very soggy trainers…

After a day of fun and running about, MJ and G lasted all of two minutes in the car before they were fast asleep, dreaming about the next adventure.

Interest rating

Lots to see and do – the Gardens hold the most attraction for children. Bringing a picnic seemed a popular option. You can pay for additional activities such as boating and archery.

Eating and drinking

There are cafes, restaurants and several kiosks selling drinks and ice creams. Picnics are welcome and there are plenty of benches and lawns to sit on.

Accessibility

You can get around most of the gardens with a pushchair, but they are not allowed inside the Castle.

Admission cost

£16 adults (castle and gardens), £13.50 (gardens only)

£9 child aged 5-15 (castle and gardens), £8.50 (gardens only)

Children under 5 free

Family tickets available

Opening times

Check opening times as they vary according to season. Open daily in Spring and Summer.

Contact

Website: www.hevercastle.co.uk

Telephone: 01732 865224

Getting there

Address: Hever Castle, Hever, Edenbridge, TN8 7NG

Map:

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