As childhood homes go, Hever Castle, near Edenbridge, Kent must be atop the ladder. Anne Boleyn (formerly Bullen) spent her early years here after it was inherited by her father, Thomas, in 1505. Built in the 13th century as a country house, it was the family seat of the Bullen's from 1462 to 1539.
After the death of Thomas Boleyn, Hever fell into the hands of king Henry VIII who then gave it to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, as part of their divorce.
Centuries later, a very wealthy American chap, William Waldorf Astor, acquired the house in 1903 and set about restoring it at great expense. It was sold to Broadland Properties Limited in 1983 and opened to the public.
Even during a pandemic there is a lot to see at Hever Castle. The house itself is worth the entrance fee. A showcase of English history, the free audio tour is a must to appreciate the lives that have been lived here. The ceilings and wood panelling are even worthy of note.
Venture down to the lake and you will pass formal gardens and maze, rose gardens with 400 varieties, and a delightful Italianate walk way with fountains and statues. There is a woodland walk, Japanese Tea House, restaurants, jousting, boating and a whole lot more.
Ticket price is expensive but we managed two for one with Gardener's World magazine.
Details at Hever Castle.