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Very Special History Lessons

  • Visits

It’s hard to imagine how a wealthy American gentleman could almost upstage one of the best known Queens in English history – but that was what confronted Moleside on our June visit to Hever Castle.

The impresive fortifications of the building where she spent her childhood must have been familiar to Anne Boleyn but how her home looks today would surely come as a big surprise to her – and an exceedingly pleasant one.  And that’s what it did for many of us when we saw it during its week of Hever in Bloom.

Blessed with glorious sunshine the magnificent landscape surrounding the original 13th century bailey and moat proved an eye opening demonstration of what could be achieved with 20th Century personal wealth.  By the time the castle and the estate that Anne might recognise had been bought by William Waldorf Astor in 1903 it was in a sorry state of repair, but with determination and substantial wealth it became once again a wealthy family’s home reflecting the very best of contemporary English craftsmanship, surrounded by an extensive set of garden designs inspired by a successful businessman’s wide travels of the world.

With the help of Hever’s Head Gardner we learnt some of the secrets of growing wonderful roses, and went on to explore such delights as the Pompeiian Wall and the Italian Garden preparing for an open air wedding that afternoon. 

After an efficiently served lunch we visited the interior of the building. Here in the style overseen by Astor, his architects and craftsmen we shared the spaces that 400 years earlier had housed the family of a young girl who charmed the King of England and changed the course of our country’s history.

Our thanks to Peter Wall for his great photos and to  Paul and Andrea Walker for a wonderful day out in the most perfect of circumstances.

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