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Castles/Houses, Days Out, Home, Outdoors, Unusual

Hever Castle – Days out for kids!

Hever Castle

We had the pleasure of visiting Hever Castle in Kent recently. We absolutely love cultural days out for kids. Eden really enjoys visiting castles even at 5 years old. There is so much to explore and there is always an exciting adventure to be had for a young and imaginative mind. Hever Castle did not disappoint, a fascinating and truly charming place to visit, we had a wonderful time.

Hever Castle is the childhood home of Anne Boleyn so a very interesting visit for any King Henry VIII fans out there. Plenty of interesting facts to discover and sights to see.

Front view of Hever Castle

The Grounds

Hever Castle is located just outside Edenbridge in Kent. It is set within 125 acres of beautiful grounds and gardens. There is a boating lake, a yew tree maze, a water maze and brand new children’s adventure park Tudor Towers with a new play area currently being developed for the under 5s.

The gardens are simply stunning and were so much fun to explore with surprises around each corner. There are waterfalls, hidden gardens, a Pompeiian wall dotted with statues, a lake walk, a Japanese Tea House and then there are the mazes. We had so much fun chasing Eden as she led the way around the Yew tree maze. It’s a good sized maze, it wasn’t too large to get lost in and was fairly simple to solve. The water maze was unfortunately closed during our visit but is opening at Easter. You can also hire a boat on the lake or try your hand at archery during your visit.

Pompeiian Wall Sculptures in the grounds at Hever Castle

Children’s Adventure Playground

The new addition of the Tudor Towers adventure park is fantastic for kids. A huge wooden castle to explore with slides, tunnels, firemen’s poles to slide down and stairs and nets to climb. We had great fun in the play area, with so much to discover and plenty to keep the kids amused. The zip wire and tyre swing were great fun.

There was also the added bonus of a coffee kiosk at the playground so adults could relax with a hot drink whilst the children could play and let off some steam. The play area was spacious and very well designed. Most of all it inspired kids to use their imaginations, even becoming rulers of their own castle!

Tudor Towers Adventure Playground at Hever CastleEden playing at the Adventure Playground at Hever Castle

The Castle

From the outside you wouldn’t believe how large Hever Castle is. It may not look like the largest of castles initially but once you step inside there are so many rooms to explore, it just keeps going we were pleasantly surprised. The walls are adorned with paintings and beautiful wood panelling and each room is filled with interesting things to see.

As we entered the castle Eden was given an explorer trail with a quest for things to look out for in each room. This was a great way to make the visit to the castle more interactive for children. Eden was excited exploring each room looking for items on her list but also taking interest in the displays and paintings. I think she particularly enjoyed looking for the hidden door in The Drawing Room and finding all the hidden faces within the woodwork in The Astor Suite.

The Castle is simply beautiful, from the detailed walnut panelling and columns in The Inner Hall to the impressively detailed fireplace in The Dining Room. You get to visit what was once Anne Boleyn’s bedroom, The Queens Chamber with its fine collection of portraits of Henry VIII and his six wives and King Henry VIII’s bedchamber where it is thought he stayed during his courtship with Anne Boleyn. There is also a permanent exhibition in The Long Gallery with costumed figures that help bring the story to life.

 

The drawing room at Hever CastleEden doing the explorer trail at Hever Castle in Anne boleyns bedroomKind Henry VIII’s bedroom at Hever Castle Costumes models at Hever Castle

Facilities

There are a selection of restaurants and shops at Hever Castle. Whether you want to treat yourself to an ice cream, a bbq, a spot of lunch or an Afternoon Tea, there are options for everyone. Within the Hever Shop you will find the Miniature Model House exhibition. The 1/12 scale model houses are amazing, they are decorated beautifully and the attention to detail is incredible. We really enjoyed our time looking around the model houses, peering inside at the beautiful contents. They were simply breathtaking and I think inspired Eden to once own her own dolls house.

Hever Castle hold many events throughout the year, please check their website for further details. They hold themed activities and craft workshops, so be sure not to miss those. We visited on Mother’s Day and enjoyed making a Mother’s Day keyring, decorated a cupcake and there was even face painting for a small extra charge.

We had such a wonderful time at Hever Castle, we can’t wait to visit again some time very soon!

A view across the moat at Hever Castle

Thank you for reading ‘Hever Castle – Days out for kids!’ If you have enjoyed this review, please see our reviews of other cultural days out,  Leeds Castle, Lullingstone Castle and Ingatestone Hall.

Written in collaboration with Hever Castle but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Castles/Houses, Days Out, Outdoors, Unusual

Exploring Lullingstone Castle & The World Garden

Lullingstone Castle

Lullingstone Castle & The World Garden

Well I can’t actually believe I hadn’t heard about Lullingstone Castle & The World Gardens before. I have always visited old houses and castles since I were just a little girl. My love of them has continued to grow into my adult life. That is why I couldn’t understand why I had missed this little gem. It’s based in Kent so not too far to travel to from Essex. I will warn you now though it is slightly off the beaten track and not the easiest to find. Overlooking that, it is a wonderful place to visit.

Lullingstone Castle is one of the oldest family estates in England and has been home to the same family since the 15th Century. It is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays between 1st April and end of September and Sundays only in October. Please visit their website for exact opening times and dates prior to your visit. Entry is: Adults are £8, children £4 and under 5’s are free. There is also the option of a free guided tour of the house.

Lullingstone Castle Front Castle

Special Events

We visited Lullingstone Castle on a special event day, The Fire Engine Rally. It was a fantastic showcase of fire fighting history with engines and carts dating from the Victorian and Edwardian periods to the present day. We were also lucky enough to see some of them in action. We watched a demonstration of the fire engines responding to a fire incident overlooking the lake. It was really exciting, the children and adults all seemed to really enjoy it. The Castle is host to various events throughout the year. Including the last day of the season where they hold their Halloween Magic special event.

Lullingstone Castle Gatehouse view

Lullingstone Castle house with fire engine

Lullingstone Castle fire engine rally

 

Our Visit

Lullingstone Castle is an enchanting place to visit with plenty to see and explore. Set within 120 acres of Kent countyside. You enter via the Gatehouse to a beautiful view of the house and St Boltolph’s Parish Church to one side. The house is stunning both inside and out and overlooks a picturesque view across the lake. Henry VIII and Queen Anne were once regular visitors at Lullingstone Castle and ‘Queen Anne’s Bathhouse’ and an 18th century ice house can be found within the grounds.

We started our day with refreshments in the Castle Marquee. They serve sandwiches, homemade soup, sausage rolls, cakes, drinks and ice creams. They had a basket of picnic blankets for you to help yourself so you can enjoy your food outside in the impressive grounds of the castle. It was such a nice and relaxing spot to sit down and eat lunch among the lovely flowers, taking in the view. The food and cake were all really yummy and on that particular day they also offered BBQ sausages in a bun so Eden was very happy!

Lullingstone Castle flower bed overlooking castle

Lullingstone Castle Marquee

Lullingstone Castle picnic blankets

The Castle

After looking around the fire engines and watching the demonstrations we ventured inside the house. As the house is still inhabited not all the rooms are open to the public. The rooms that are open are really beautiful, fully dressed with antique furniture, paintings and artifacts. You enter into the impressive Great Hall and upstairs are the state rooms where you even get to see Queen Anne’s bed.

Lullingstone Castle The great hall

The World Gardens

Tom Hart Dyke the current heir to the estate started his plans for the World Gardens in the year 2000 and they have grown since then. The Gardens take you on an adventure around the world with some interesting and unusual plants to see. Eden absolutely loved exploring the Garden. In particular we liked the Hot ‘n’ Spikey house with over 1000 varieties of Cacti, the beautiful Moroccon Blue Room and The Cloud Room. Whilst exploring the gardens look out for some wacky sculptures.

Lullingstone Castle the world garden

Lullingstone Castle eden exploring the gardens

Lullingstone Castle Cactii room

Lullingstone Castle Blue Moroccan room

Orchid Meadow and Woodland Walk

After the gardens we crossed the small wooden bridge into the Orchid Meadow and woodland walk. After a short walk we found a wonderful spot for a game of poo sticks on the river. It was such a picturesque spot too.

Lullingstone Castle woodland walk

Lullingstone Castle river

St Boltolphs Parish Church

Within the grounds of the estate is St Boltolph’s Parish Church which contains some of the oldest stained glass windows in England. I am always so fascinated by churches and although small, it was really interesting with the beautifully carved tomb of Sir John Peché d 1521. The church still holds regular congregations to this day.

Lullingstone Castle inside st boltolphs

We had such a lovely family day at Lullingstone Castle and World Gardens I thoroughly recommend it. I love all things history and culture. My dad used to take myself and my sister from a young age to all these wonderful places. I can remember how exciting and how much fun it was. They always felt so magical and enchanting. Sometimes its not all about the usual zoos, farms or soft play centres but getting your kids to try experiencing something new…. Read about one of our favourite castles to visit here!

Lullingstone Castle us outside the house

Lullingstone Castle eden by the flowerbed

Thank you for reading ‘Exploring Lullingstone Castle & The World Garden’.

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Castles/Houses, Memories, Unusual

My Sunday Photo – Lullingstone Castle

For My Sunday Photo this week I have a photo of Lullingstone Castle. 

We visited Lullingstone Castle in Kent on their Fire engines event day. They had fire engines from all eras, showcase of fire-fighting history with over 20 fire engines and carts. They even had demonstrations of the engines in action. We had a lovely family day for my dad’s birthday. 

The Castle has the gorgeous World Gardens to walk around, with flowers and plants from across the world. The Moroccon blue room was my particular favourite. 


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