Friday 11 May 2018

Visiting Hever Castle With Kids - 10 Top Tips

hever castle title image

Last Bank Holiday Monday we had a wonderful trip to Hever Castle in Kent. It really is the most beautiful place and so well maintained, so we would definitely recommend it as a wonderful place to visit with kids, whatever their age. We visited with our 10 year old twins and 14 year old and they all had a good time. Younger kids would enjoy it even more I imagine.

Let me share with your our ten top family things to do at Hever Castle and some tips for enjoying them!

1)  Enjoy the Water Maze
This was definitely my kids favourite part of the day and I was glad we had taken some spare clothes and a towel. You definitely need these for a warm day as your children will want to spend ages in the water maze. Everyone has to wear footwear in the maze so maybe pack some flip-flops or water shoes, something you don't mind them getting soaking wet. Don't be fooled into thinking this is just for a hot day though as it will be far quieter on a mild day and you can see where the water will squirt, so just avoid those bits if you don't want too get wet.

hever castle water maze

hever castle water maze

2)  Let off Steam at Tudor Towers
New for this year is the nine metre wooden play castle. It truly is an amazing opportunity for imaginative play and is aimed at children aged 7 - 14 years. It is bigger than a four bedroom house and has everything needed for super fun - tunnels, fireman's poles, towers, cargo nets and climbing wall. One side of the castle is even incomplete as if it has been attacked and the children can play castle siege. So forget the pretty clothes and come ready to play.

As well as Tudor Towers there is also an excellent shaded play park behind with swings, climbing apparatus and zip wire. As well as a special area for the under 5's. We also noticed them building a new play area opposite too, so give it a few months and there will be even more fun!

wooden play castle

3)  Explore the Castle
The 13th Century double moated Hever Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I. It is a magnificent example of an English castle and is sure to delight any child, especially if they are studying the Tudors at school. You get to cross the drawbridge, go under the portcullis, visit the Henry VIII bedroom where he is said to have slept, enjoy the permanent exhibition in the Long Gallery which brings the 16th century to life with costumed figures illustrating key events in Anne’s life at the Castle and see the stunning Books of Hours, that are inscribed by Anne Boleyn herself.

If you wish to learn all about the history of the house there are multimedia guides available in various languages for £3.75 per person.

On busy days there is a queue for the castle and we waited about 15 minutes when we joined the queue at about 1.30pm. The castle doesn't open until 12 noon and if you want to avoid the queue be there at just before that time and you'll be one of the first in.

inside hever castle

4)  Practise your Archery Skills
On weekends and during holidays there is 'have a go archery' and shield/crown or lance making available for the children for a small cost. Archery ranges from £4 - £6 per child (or adult) and the crowns are £3, shields from £4 and foam lances £4. If you ave a crafty kid these are perfect activities and great for a bit of shade in the gazebo when the sun is at its hottest too. Even on a super busy Bank Holiday this area was calm and the queues not too long at all.

archery instruction
Thanks to Hever Castle for this image

5)  Get lost in the Yew Maze
All kids love a maze and this is a wonderful example. It's not too difficult so you won't get lots in there for ages but it is great fun to break the family into two teams and see who can get to the exit first. We had many attempts at this!

maze at hever castle
Image thanks to Hever castle

6)  Enjoy a Picnic by the Lake and Take a Walk
The lake is really picturesque and even on a super busy day we found it to be tranquil and crowd free. We picnicked beyond the water maze but you are free to set up wherever you fancy but just remember to take your rubbish away with you. As you walk the lake you'll see and hear some beautiful wildlife and there is a great nature trail that you can download for free before coming to the castle. You'll also find three WWII pill boxes and a Japanese tea house as you walk.

Give yourself around an hour for a leisurely walk and marvel at the sights of the majestic of the Italian inspired Loggia Terrace. On the day we visited there was Morris Dancers in it for May day but you can see from the picture below that you could easily think you are in Italy or Greece on a warm day.

lake view

morris dancing

7)  Go Boating or Take out a Pedalo
We were really surprised on our trip to Hever Castle just how much there is to do and as such we didn't get out onto one of the boats but we certainly would another time, as I think that £15 for a row boat that seats up to 6 people is a real snip! Boat hire is available on weekends and school holidays from Friday 30 March until Friday 21 September.

boating lake

8)  Feed the Ducks and the Carp
OK this one sounds really tame doesn't it? Something you can do anywhere and let's be honest, that's true but the difference here is you are feeding ducks in the moat with an amazing castle in the background and kids do love the simple things. Bags of fish or duck food are available from the visitor information point for 50p a bag.

duck feeding

9)  Enrol for the Free Summer Knights and Princesses School
During the school Summer holidays from 21st July to 27th August there will be a FREE Knights and Princesses school running. Children (of 6-12 years) can experience what it was like to grow up and serve in a royal household in medieval times. There will be loads of hands on activities to keep the kids engaged and they will end the session with a hobby horse jousting session and receiving a certificate. These free classes last for around 40 minutes and take place daily at 11:30, 12:30, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00. Make sure to book your child's space when you arrive at the Information centre.

knights and princesses school
Image thanks to Hever Castle

10)  Visit for a Special Event such as Jousting or May Day
We visited over the early May Bank Holiday weekend and there was a wonderful theme for this 3 day event, with at least three different groups of Morris Dancers, a maypole that the children could dance around to traditional musical accompaniment, the crowing of the May Queen, a Green Man hunt and a procession with the mythical Jack-in-the-Green. There was something to see or do all day long.

Hever Castle is also well-known for its jousting days and this years tournament starts on 14th and 15th July. Bring a blanket or watch the joust in style from the medieval spectator stands, available for a small cost on a first-come, first-served basis. Then choose which knights you support and cheer them to glory. Check out the Events page for Hever Castle to see all the wonderful events coming up soon. I do like the fact that nearly everything is included within the regular admission costs.

maypole dancing

Practical Information

Address: Hever Road, Hever, Edenbridge TN8 7NG
Postcode for SatNav use: TN8 7NG
Telephone: 01732 865224

Opening Times:  The grounds open at 10.30am and the Castle at 12 Noon daily. Close times depend on the season, so make sure you check the website

Food and Drink: There are various cafes, restaurants and food outlets across the site. We found the quality to be good and the prices were as we'd expect. £2.25 for a bottle of coke, £2.50 for a pot of tea and £2.95 for a Magnum ice cream. You can pic-nic across the site and there are various wooden tables and benches around.

Dogs:  Dogs are allowed on site on leads. If you tell them as you arrive, there was a special shaded parking area, which was good to see.

Accessibility: The castle is Grade 1 listed and they recommend that those with disabilities take a look at the gatehouse to be able to ascertain for themselves if it will be accessible. Having done the tour I can say there are small stone circular stairways up and down to the first floor, so personally I think some people with mobility issues might find it difficult. There are plenty of hard surfaces and shingle paths around the grounds so that those with wheelchairs, mobility scooters or pushchairs can get about.

Hever Castle have a really comprehensive accessibility statement on their website so take a look at this if you need further information.

We had a super day at Hever Castle, thanks so much for having us and we will definitely be back.

happy kids at hever castle

Why not pin this post for later?

hever castle pin

I'm linking this post up with Fiona at Coombe Mill for #CountryKids.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Disclosure: I received complimentary entrance tickets for my family in exchange for an honest review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

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