On Bank Holiday Monday, Sam and I ventured out to Hever Castle for a day of exploring and castle gazing. It just so happened that it was the big summer jousting tournament, by pure coincidence. Hever Castle is a gorgeous home once owned by Anne Boleyn’s family. It’s where she grew up and where Henry VIII wooed her (if you can call what Henry would do “wooing”.)
Later the house was owned by the Astor family, and they added on a lot of modern wings and updates. It’s weird to see Tudor architecture juxtaposed to golden-age American influences, but though anachronistic and strange, the effect is still exciting. My absolute favourite feature of the entire grounds are all the mazes the Astors installed. My absolute favourite being the “water maze” where if you made a wrong turn, a jetty of water squirts out at you. (The paving stones are pressurised to sense when someone is on them and the wrong ones squirt you.) It was so easy to picture drunken flappers and society grand-dames, having highball glasses in their hands, squealing around corners and laughing when their insanely expensive dresses were soaked.
The other not-to-be-missed section of the grounds is the pavilion down by the lake. It’s a bit of a walk from the Castle itself, through the Italian Gardens, but it’s so stunning that you’d truly miss out if you hadn’t seen it.
The jousting tournament itself was hilarious. Loads of families turned up just for it. (Bank Holiday Monday must be the busiest day of the year for Hever Castle.) Though a bit cheesy, the riders themselves clearly were hugely skilled! And horses are just so impressive up close.
Hever Castle is located at: TN8 7NG
You can get there by taking a train to Edenbridge then getting a taxi. Or do what we did: get the train to Hever and then make the 20 minute walk from the train station.
Have you ever been to Hever Castle?