I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but actually I’m glad I’ve left it until now, as it’s nice to look back on some of the fun we had over (what was quite a wet) summer. Living in the SE London/Kent borders, our family is lucky in that we can hop 20 minutes or so on a train to Central London, but we’re not actually too far from the M25, and that beautiful ‘Garden of England’, Kent. There are so many places to visit, and things to do in Kent, that we are still constantly writing a ‘to visit’ list, and ticking off the ones that we do manage! Some are old favourites, and Hever Castle, about a 45 minute drive from our home, is one of them.
Situated in the picturesque village of -wait, you’ve guessed it- Hever, the castle and surrounding grounds are over 700 hundred years old, and were the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Some people might think that a ‘stately home’ is an unsuitable place to take a 3 and 4 year old, but there are lots of things to for this age group (themed activities, date dependent), gorgeous gardens to run around in, a maze, an adventure playground and a very child-friendly cafe (with the most AMAZING cakes for sale). I also personally think it’s important for children to appreciate history from a young age, and to realise that sometime the grown ups in their lives want to have a nose at otherwise boring stuff too- a day out should be for everyone! 😉 (even if the tour around the house ends up being, er ‘fleeting’!)
I visited on a weekday in August with the children and my Mum, which was busy but not crazily so. Scroll on down for some snaps of our trip out!
After parking the car, the stroll across to the castle is a welcoming sight. Like horses who haven’t been exercised and are chomping at the bit, my two terrors see grass and leg it! And here is fine to do just that. Acres of safe lawns are just the ticket to wear out lively small people. The castle really is so beautiful, and everything you imagine it to be- visitors just stop and stare and snap away for ages.
We stopped to grab a cuppa and delicious brownie at the main cafe in the grounds. It’s extremely child-friendly, with either ‘pick 5 items’ lunch boxes for about a fiver, or child-size portions of adult hot meals. We chose to have lunch here later on in the day, as we weren’t sure if it would end up being picnic weather on the day we came (also a good option), and my two chose mini fish and chip portions, which were great quality, something you don’t always get at other attractions.
After our snack, first port of call was the adventure playground (always a favourite). It’s great now that my two are a bit bigger and can go and explore a bit themselves, although S still preferred to tackle the section for the younger adventurer.
The playground is tucked within a wooded area, and gives a real feeling of being among nature- it’s an almost soothing experience for a parent!
The gardens around the castle. For 50p a bag, you can buy a small bag of food to feed the ducks and the HUGE koi carp in the moat with. This was really popular, especially with Freddie, who could have done this all day!
After taking a stroll further around the grounds, we came across some archery, where for a few quid anyone from 2.5 years upwards could have a go. I must admit, I was a bit skeptical that my two would be any good at their ages, but since they were keen to have a try, we went with it.
Sasha, bless her, actually did pretty well with some help, although lost interest after a couple of arrows, declaring that Freddie could have the rest of hers!
Freddie, on the other-hand, was BRILLIANT (not just me, the lady helping him said so!). He really got into it, listened well to the instructions, and could fire his arrow really far. He was rather excited by this, and we had to come back again later on in the day to have another go with several arrows. We could have a young archer in the making here! It was an unexpected thing to have a go at, and was the highlight of Freddie’s day.
Whilst F was honing his skills to become the next Robin Hood, S got stuck into some shield painting and design in the tent next door. This was right up her street (she’s a bit of an art lover!), and we could leave it to dry with the girls’ running the tent for the day, before picking it up again before we left. This was a fiver, which I thought was perhaps a little expensive for what it was, but worth it since she wasn’t so fussed about the archery.
Post-lunch we went for a walk around the grounds, including the stunning Italian Gardens. I’m not a big gardener, although I enjoy pottering about at home
and watching my Mum but even I could appreciate how much time and effort goes into maintaining these gardens (and the house itself) for everyone to enjoy. There is a another fab cafe, plus an ice cream stand situated here, and since it’s slightly further away from the main castle, tends to be slightly quieter. A stroll around here was ideal post-lunch, the vibe is so relaxing.
This is a bit of a whistle-stop tour of Hever Castle from the perspective of a family with two small children. We’re looking forward to bringing our wellies and coming back soon to explore the Autumn Colour Trail one weekend (prices from £13.50 per adult for entry to solely the gardens, children 5-15 from £8.50, and under 5s are free).
We highly recommend a visit to Hever!
Have you ever been before?
Hever Castle, Hever, Edenbridge, Kent, TN8 7NG – 01732 865224