There is a moment in life when one gets a bit over the whole “we need to take the DLR, the Tube, a bus, a train, run 5k, ride a camel and then another bus to get from Point A to Point B”. My husband and I reached that point last year after we found out that getting to Scotland by train would set us back £200 each and a bunch of changes. As you might have guessed, we stayed home that weekend!
For this reason and because we love to travel, we bought our car last winter and we are always on the hunt for interesting places to visit -there is nothing like leaving the office on Friday knowing you’re getting out of the city on Saturday! This hobby has proved to be rather useful because last month I found an absolute jewel of a place: Hever Castle, located in Kent and only a short drive away from the city.
If you’re looking for a place near London to visit this summer, I totally recommend it: Hever has beautifully landscaped gardens, a 750-year-old castle and plenty of fun for both grown-ups and children.
Do you want to know more about the castle and its attractions? read on!
When we arrived, the first thing we saw was the lake, shining under the summer sun. Families and friends were rowing on the small boats you can rent -I think we paid £15 to rent one for 1 hour of absolute fun. I laughed so much while on the boat that my ribs hurt afterwards: trying to get my husband and one of our friends to row in the same direction and in a coordinated manner proved to be quite the challenge.
After our maritime adventure, we headed to the piazza which is located next to the lake. The whole place was inspired by the Trevi fountain and is absolutely stunning, with its golden stone stairs and arches. While walking in the piazza I felt I was no longer in England but in Italy, taking a walk around Lake Como. I closed my eyes and for a split second, I could almost taste fresh olives and sweet Italian wine. Not too shabby for a place only 48 km away from the city!
We didn’t find wine or olives but we did find ice-cream, and with a mint-chocolate cone in hand, we walked around the Italian Gardens. So enchanting are the gardens, that we almost forgot for a second that we were there to visit a castle…
The castle itself
The 750-year-old castle was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. According to the historians, a lot of the courtship between Anne and Henry VIII happened between its walls.
Inside the castle, you can step back in time while wandering around its rooms. You can visit Henry VIII’s bedchambers and see Anne’s childhood room. One section of the castle is dedicated to the Edwardian Period and the Astors, the legendary aristocratic family that made the castle their home during the 20th century.
Interesting info: even when they no longer live in the castle, the Astor family continues to be highly influential both in Great Britain and the world – two of the Duchess of Cambridge’s bridesmaids were Astors!
Eating, events and attractions
If you are worried you might get hungry after all the rowing, walking and sightseeing, fear not! At Hever, there are plenty of restaurants, kiosks, cafés and even a recently inaugurated prosecco bar. Due to its proximity to the lake, my favourite place to grab a bite was definitely the Guthrie Pavilion.
If you’re visiting with kids, Hever has many attractions for them: at weekends they can give archery a try, they can paint shields and there is a playground in the shape of a castle.
Moreover, there’s always something happening at Hever; from jousting tournaments to concerts, so be sure to check their calendar because there is plenty of things to do!
Tickets for both the grounds & the castle are £16.75 for adults. There are also concessions and the children pay a bit less. I recommend buying them online the day before -we didn’t wait in line and saved some money. Take a look at the whole list of prices here.
Hope you enjoyed this post and if you know any other nice places not too far from London, please leave me a comment! 😊