The original Henricus Rex

…Or H-Rizzle, as he was known on the madrigal circuit. Oh, you know he was.


Tudor nerds unite. And let’s do it at Hever Castle, because it’s brilliant. It’s the ancestral home of Anne Boleyn, and I was certain it’d be the sort of place that would call forth the Jiggy Dance of Historical Joy I keep locked up for special occasions. I just wanted to go without splattering 500-year-old stuff with baby sick, because I thought it would probably be frowned upon. On Saturday, with my own Henricus Rex having a marvellous time at his grandparents’, the opportunity arose and I grabbed it.

It’s more expensive than your average National Trust (it’s privately owned) but oh, oh, oh.

First came the lake and the rowing boats named after Henry and his unfortunate wives.

Then the gardens, huge and immaculate and filled with little private spaces and Roman artefacts.

Then the mazes: one of yew trees, and a spraying water obstacle course that made Tim come over all Crystal Maze Contestant.

Then the castle. It’s tiny, as castles go, but riddled with spiral staircases, tiny windows set in thick stone walls, illuminated manuscripts, tapestries, long galleries and things the Boleyns had actually touched. We loved it so much, we went in twice. You weren’t allowed to take photographs, so we didn’t take…many.

(Taking turns to cough hammily in order to disguise the sound of a camera shutter will enliven any time spent in a castle, by the way.)

Emerging dreamily from under the portcullis, we were about to head back to the car when we discovered a huge and thrilling adventure playground tucked behind a hill. We tested everything, and it was all adult-proof. You’re welcome.

Other things we did with our baby-free weekend: ate lots; went to the cinema; had long baths in a funny little hotel; and slept all night and all the way till 8.30am (steady on). Tune in tomorrow for the Hunger Games verdict: I have Opinions.

Hever Castle, Edenbridge, Kent. Go, enjoy, and buy yourself a magnet in the shape of Henry VIII. You know the old devil would want you to.

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  1. Pingback: The year of magical thinking | make a long story short

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