Hever Castle & Penshurst Place


One of the bed and breakfasts we were fortunate to see was Hever Castle. This castle has the distinction of being where Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII’s wives and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I, grew up. Hever Castle is about seven hundred years old. Being surrounded by all that history was nothing short of amazing.

In addition to offering lodging for visitors to the area, Hever Castle has attractions designed for day visitors, including a golf course! Inside, some of the rooms have been restored to nearly their original appearance, including the Medieval Council Chamber in the Gatehouse, which was originally built in the 13th century. The Boleyn family added to it a few centuries later.

Outside, the castle has beautiful gardens and a large hedge maze, as well as a golf course and adventure playground. Other attractions include a military museum and a gallery of miniature houses representing some of the most important periods in British history.

The entire place exists in its current form in large part because the American businessman William Waldorf Astor funded its restoration in the early 20th century, and required his workers to use Tudor and Elizabethan materials and tools as much as they were able. One of Astor’s contributions was a large man-made lake, where visitors today can go boating or can walk a trail that leads along the lake shore.

We also visited Penshurst Place, a mansion built in 1341. It’s been owned by the same family, the Sidney family, since 1552, when it was given to Henry VIII’s ex-wife Anne of Cleves as part of the divorce settlement. Penshurst Place is located in Kent, just as Hever Castle is, and like Hever Castle includes a range of attractions, including the most impressive gardens we saw.

Until the late 1940s, Penshurst Place was solely the private residence of the Sidneys. But during World War II, the manor sustained major damage that required renovation and restoration work. In order to help fund the repairs, in 1946 the owners chose to open Penshurst Place to the public. The glorious gardens are only one piece of Penshurst. The grounds also offer, among other things, an adventure playground, and children can also visit the on-site toy museum.

Because of its history and beauty, Penshurst Place has been used in some movies and TV shows, and it’s a popular destination for visitors. We greatly enjoyed our time there.

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