Step back in time to the Tudors from June 2024

March 22 2024 | Castle

Important Update

– To ensure the best possible experience, the Boleyn Apartment launch is moving to 26 June.
– As certain rooms in the Castle will be closed, Behind the Scenes Tours are continuing until 25 June – learn more here.

The Boleyn Apartment

The childhood home of Anne Boleyn will unveil the Boleyn Apartment on the first floor of the Castle on Wednesday 26th June to give visitors a unique and visually engaging experience of Tudor history.

The launch which was originally planned for Monday 25th March, has been delayed due to a change in direction and design, led by the team at Hever. This change will ensure the best possible experience.

It is believed that the apartment is the only known surviving suite of rooms in the world that the Boleyn family definitely occupied, and it is being re-interpreted with Tudor artefacts, and furnishings to create a 16th century atmosphere.

While the works are taking place visitors can pay £3 (first come first served, bookable on the day at the Castle entrance) to take part in a behind the scenes tour to find out more about the re-interpretation and see rooms which are closed to Castle visitors take shape.

Rooms in other houses lived in by the Boleyn family, in the UK and Europe, have – it is believed, either been destroyed or modified beyond their recognition. At Hever Castle visitors have a unique chance to walk in the footsteps of Anne Boleyn.

Visitors entering the Castle will continue to learn about former owner William Waldorf Astor’s vision on the ground floor. Once the richest man in America, he bought the Castle in 1903 with a view to making it a showpiece house, in which to entertain and show off his art collection. Astor was fascinated by the Tudors and drew inspiration from other houses of the era, such as Hampton Court Palace. So much so, that he insisted that all the finishes be done using 16th Century style tools such as adzes (a flat faced axe) rather than modern (Edwardian) planes and saws.

The experience will tell the story of Anne’s journey to become Queen in Waiting. The use of tapestries, fabrics, rush matting, friezes, 16th century furniture, will help visitors feel like they are walking in the shoes of the woman whose influence would change the course of English history, monarchy and religion. The rooms will become increasingly more opulent as you move through them as Anne’s status increased over time.

The Parlour (previously the Morning Room) will set the scene for the rooms ahead, before climbing the spiral staircase to the Children’s Bedchamber (formerly Anne Boleyn’s Bedroom), which will show what life was like for Anne Boleyn as a child at Hever Castle.

Passing through to the Great Chamber (formerly the Book of Hours Room), this room will represent Anne’s time at Hever after spending time at the French court. Demonstrating the multi-functional purpose of this room, artefacts such as lutes, poetry, replica books and French influences will be included. The ceiling painted in deep blue and gold will be striking and a frieze will be added that will take inspiration from painted ceilings at Tudor properties.

The Best Bedchamber (formerly the Queens’ Chamber) will be dressed in rich red and gold fabrics. This is the location where Anne is thought to have written to Henry VIII during their courtship, exploring her rise to ‘Queen in Waiting’ .

The re-interpretation of these rooms is a major undertaking and has been planned and researched for over a year by Hever Castle’s Curatorial team, with advice from historian Dr David Starkey. The installation process will take place from January to June 2024 with visitors being taken on a different route through the Castle with some room closures 7 February – 25 June 2024 but also the rare opportunity to join behind the scenes tours of the work in progress.

The re-interpretation will also see items from Hever Castle’s permanent collection relocated, such as the Book of Hours prayer books signed by Anne Boleyn which will be displayed to visitors in another room.

Anne Boleyn prayer book

Castle Historian Kate McCaffrey said: “We are thrilled to announce our plans for the Boleyn Apartment. We wanted to create a series of rooms that lets the visitor step back in time to the world of Anne Boleyn – Hever’s most famous inhabitant. We have an incredibly rare, unique opportunity to use these rooms as they would have been used and present them sympathetically.”

One of the family members who owns Hever Castle, Richard Guthrie said: “It’s a tremendously exciting project. Following the commission of a detailed study of the historical physical characteristics of the Castle, and in consultation with arguably one of the most eminent Tudor experts of our age, our in house team of historians have designed a new permanent exhibition, which we are confident will parallel very closely the way particular rooms would have both looked and been lived in during the occupation of Anne Boleyn and her family. It will provide a quite unique new experience for all visitors to the Castle.”