Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Most Pleasant Day

What a sea-change today.  Low humidity, cooler temperatures - a much happier me! 
We took the train to Hever and because we are dumb adventurous we decided to walk the mile from the station to the castle.  The footpath started out clearly marked with an arrow pointing "Hever Castle". And that was the beginning and end of the directions.  We once again were the only people outside in the great out-of-doors of Kent (or so it seemed).  We made a wrong turn or two, backtracked, and questioned ourselves.  We were up on high bluffs and kept thinking we'd see the castle in the distance - not! We finally popped out on a narrow lane which led into the car park for the castle.  As it turns out Hever Castle is hidden down in the depths of a small valley.
Thank goodness for whatever saint looks after wayward tourists!  

Hever Castle is a small 'family-sized' castle and was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the 2nd of Henry VIII's wives.  Henry VIII courted her from the nearby Bolebrook Castle and is supposed to have visited here often. After Anne's death, Henry VIII gave the castle to Anne of Cleves as part of her settlement following the annulment of their marraige.  The castle then passed into the Waldegrave and Meade Waldo families.
In 1903 William Waldorf Astor bought the castle, and being an Astor poured money into it its restoration.   He had all these pseudo Tudor buildings constructed as guest houses.  The castle tour was most interesting - Astor spared no expense and there are lovely ceilings and woodwork.

There is a great collection of Tudor portraits and two of Anne Boleyn's prayer books - much good they did her!  There is also a collection of truly lovely needlework.

Astor's restoration did not stop with the house.
The grounds are lovely.

I think I enjoyed the Italian Garden the most.
The wall to the right features a shade garden.  

It drips with water and mosses and ferns.

The rest of the Italian Garden is bright and sunlit.
It was built so as to feature the many items of art Waldorf had collected during his time as ambassador to Italy.

I think I enjoyed this garden so much because it is thematically so different from the many "English Gardens" I've visited lately.
Urns, and lavender, boxwood,and cypress.

Oh, and some roses as well.

Being the home of an Astor, if there is a water feature, then let's make it a 36 acre water feature!

And if you have a 36 acre water feature, then you need a massive fountain to set it off.
The waterlilies were happy.
And so were the many birds.
The baby ducklings were under a small plank near the moat in the shade, and were well guarded by their mama.  

We enjoyed strolling about the gardens.

I collected a couple of plant pairings I liked including this one of verbena bonariensis and echinops.

This is yarrow and, ummm, something else yellow!

We saved the forest garden (rhododendron walk) for last.

The rhododendrons have bloomed, but the walk was pleasant nonetheless. 

Here's a vibrant green acer. 

The walk ended down a rhododendron lined path back to the castle. 

And we ended our stay at Hever Castle with double scoop chocolate ice cream cones! 


Margaret said...

Oh what fun to see Hever Castle! I didn't know Astor bought it -- very interesting. Glad the walk turned out ok and you eventually found the castle. Also glad it was cooler! I hope that cooler weather comes this way too.

Ann at Beadlework. said...

I wish it was cooler up here Beth, today was uncomfortably hot. It was approaching thirty for quite a bit of the day. Hever Castle looks like a great place to visit - a very interesting history lesson too, thanks for that. Your knowledge of history is very extensive.

Annette-California said...

Hever Castle is incredible. And the gardens...magnificent. I really liked the Italian Gardens too and a 36 acre manmade lake? WOW! What a great way to end your tour with Ice Cream:) Nice to hear you had some cooler weather today. Have you and your mom had a foot massage yet? lol.
love Annette

Mouse said...

gorgeous walk today ... and can't believe you set off with out a map glad you got there safely ...beautiful gardens and flowers etc etc etc and what a lake !!!
and yummmmmm to the ice cream too :)
love mouse xxxxx

Barb said...

The water lilies are beautiful. I'm so happy that it has cooled off for you and your Mom. In Seattle we call that the marine layer. When we have had a hot spell, I always love to hear the weather man say that a marine layer is coming tomorrow morning.

Heather Cartwright said...

Beautiful flowers! If you happen to be venturing back Surrey-wards any time soon, there's a needlework exhibition on at Hampton Court that might be worth looking into. I'm headed there tomorrow with my parents :)

hazel said...

My you do have some adventures Beth, I have never been to HC but sure looks a lovely place and those gardens are beautiful not sure how they do it in this hot weather.

The other yellow flower is loosestrife I think can be invaisive but pretty.


Hazel c uk

Chris said...

I so want to visit here one day. I am so glad that your walk to the castle turned out ok. I think that I would have had blackcurrants and cream off that list of ice cream flavors.

Giovanna said...

That looks like another wonderful place to visit - old castle, lovely gardens, gorgeous needlework, cute cottages, and good ice cream... life doesn't get much better :-)

Melissa said...

Beautiful photos, Beth. I think of you each evening downloading and composing these gorgeous photos. That must take you a good hour or two! Thanks for them as they are a treat for those of us who can't be there.

I especially love the photo of the Italian Garden walkway.

Anna van Schurman said...

Sounds like a perfect way to end the day!

Carol said...

Oh, such a wonderful tour, Beth--at this rate you'll have seen more English attractions than most native English people :)

I'm sure with all the walking you're doing you're burning off every calorie of those double scoop ice cream cones!

Melanie said...

Lovely little walking tour this day! Even if it was tricky to find. I have no sense of direction so I'm sure I would have never found it, even if I had it pulled up on Google maps in my hand. lol
The needlework is exquisite. Love the caterpillars. :)

Maggee said...

Whatdya mean, "I collected a couple of plant pairings" ??? Don't tell me you are bringing contraband home?! Lovely castle, guest houses and gardens... I am wayyyy behind again, or is it still? But maybe I will just catch up tonight!! It could happen! Hugs!