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Hever Castle

After a cup of tea and a short wait for Rowan, we headed on. A few short miles further on is Hever Castle. Arguably, one of the most famous of castles in England. Most famously as the home of the Boleyn family. Anne Boleyn, of course, became the second wife of Henry VIII, mother to Queen Elizabeth I. It’s a beautiful place and one of my favourites.


Parking signs where in place directing one into the main car park. The parking area that I wanted had cones across the entrance. I followed the signs and headed as far into a corner as I could. The next thing, a car park attendant came sauntering down, saying, “You can’t park here.” Unfortunately, though I realise that it was not his intention, the words he used when speaking further to me were open to misinterpretation, coming across in a disparaging way. I told him to be aware of his language and suggested that he needs to do improve on his people skills. He apologised and began again. This time, he said that I could use the coach park, which is where I had intended to park. He radioed through to somebody, then confirmed that I would be okay to park for the night. I thanked him, then went to go back to the entrance to divert into the coach park. However, I had stopped in very soft ground. I wasn’t going anywhere! I apologised again, explaining my predicament. The attendant, Justin, I think his name-badge stated, then radioed for some assistance. I was told that a 4WD vehicle would be with me in 20 minutes.


When the summoned help arrived, it was not in a 4WD. Instead, one of those garden estate buggies turned up. Stuart, the help, attempted to pull my combo. That wasn’t happening! He reckoned that it would pull out the truck without the trailer. He tried. Nope! It had no hope of moving anything bigger than a car. I decided to go with the obvious. I jacked up the wheel that was in trouble and slid some boards under. The wheel was then on a hard dry surface and simply pulled itself onto hard standing. With Stuart’s help pulling my trailer round, I was then able to re-hitch. Stuart then escorted me to a suitable spot in the coach park.


After a cup of tea, I decided to go for a walk around the castle gardens. It was a glorious warm, sunny day. At the gate, I was confronted with the entry costs.



£20 to wander around the garden! I can’t afford that. I wandered through the gate to the kiosk, anyway. Maybe I could at least get a photo shot.



Inevitably, I got chatting to the staff there. One woman seemed sympathetic and agreed in general that the entry costs are excessive. The other woman tried to defend the multi-millionaire owners. She argued that 120 acres cost a lot to maintain and the staff needed paying. I simply asked her what her estimation of the day’s takings would be; just that day, not the entire year. Then asked her if she thought her argument was still valid. I don’t know how many thousands of people visit on any one day, but it’s a lot and easily covers staff and maintenance costs. The coach park alone can hold easily in excess of 30 coaches. There are also two large car parks. I also pointed out that the estate was small compared to many, yet those many do not charge astronomical fees. On the contrary, many are free. The fact is, the owners are exploiting the fact that their castle is a very famous, historically important building. The number of visitors are guaranteed, regardless of cost.


I decided to head back, have a cup of tea and see if I could find a different walk. On the way back, one of the parking attendants, Cameron, asked me why I didn’t go in. I told him that I couldn’t afford to. Amazingly, he offered to cover the cost! I told him that I wasn’t going to accept that, not at that price. Then another attendant appeared, also named Cameron. He said that he would just ask the kiosk staff to let me in. With that, he said, “Follow me.” as he headed for the kiosk. I followed. Cameron simply asked for an entry ticket, then gave it to me! I was in! Wow. Just like that.






Some of the huge Koi in the moat


The highlight of the gardens is the Italian garden, laid out in the early 20th. century.










Be warned, this place has become a commercial tourist trap. The owners are extracting every penny they can from the tourist. Everywhere, even where you wouldn’t expect, there are wall to wall snack vans! I noticed the cost of an ice cream cone - £4.50! Guaranteed money maker with thousands of children hassling their parents. I did stop to sit down in the café with a cup of tea and a slice of cake. There are people dressed in costumes wandering about. One lot acting out scenes from the legends of Robin Hood. Robin Hood? What the hell has Robin Hood got to do with Hever Castle? The legends predate the castle by maybe 200 years! And has nothing even to do with Kent. Hever Castle is spoilt, now. I used to love the peace wandering around the gardens many years ago. It’s changed, and not for the good.








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