Hever Castle and sustainability

Castle, Garden

Hever Castle is working on its sustainability and become more environmentally friendly. The historic attraction is Silver rated for green tourism.

With a biomass boiler that heats the entire Estate, solar panels to capture energy and return it to the grid, developing and protecting new eco systems in the grounds, the introduction of electric vehicles onsite, a lagoon sewerage system that’s attractive to wildlife and also the promotion of biodiversity in the meadows, Hever Castle & Gardens is trying hard to reduce its carbon footprint.

A green committee was set up in June 2021. Representatives from departments across the estate meet once a month to talk about ways to be more sustainable.

Sustainability measures across the 150 acre estate include:

Heating and lighting:

Heating for the estate is provided via a biomass boiler with the vast majority of the timber used from local woodlands. Previous to 2013 when the biomass boiler was installed, electricity or LPG or oil had been used.

CEO Duncan Leslie said: “The biomass has been a huge success with the total cost of heating the entire site reduced considerably since its implementation.”

Solar panels were installed on the roof of the biomass store across the road from the private entrance in January 2019. It is estimated the panels will generate around 43,200 kilowatts of electricity per year, therefore saving the estate £5,000-£6,000 annually.

Old fashioned light bulbs continue to be replaced with low energy ones.

Travel:

Hever Castle is situated in a rural location with the majority of staff and visitors coming by car, but people are encouraged to use public transport where possible. Staff from the historic attraction work closely with Hever train station, the nearest station, and provide them with signage and video content that shows visitors how to walk to and from the station.

Cycle racks are also available for visitors and staff near to the main entrance to the Castle.

Electric vehicles are being introduced across the estate.

Coffee and water:

Visitors are encouraged to bring their own cups and water bottles with a 10% discount offered on hot drinks when using a reusable cup in the Moat Restaurant, Guthrie Pavilion Restaurant and other onsite catering outlets. Annual members will receive their usual 10% discount plus an additional 10% if they bring in their own reusable cup.

Reusable cups are also available to purchase in the Hever Shop priced from £6.00 (staff and members discounts apply).

Reusable plastic bottles are available to purchase in the Hever Shop and in the Restaurants with water points around the site and paper straws have replaced plastic ones in the Restaurants.

Retail:

Hever Shop sells a variety of food and drink and gifts from Kent, Surrey and Sussex. The retail team are continually looking to work with more local companies and those with a sustainable ethos. The two main card companies stocked in the shop now send their greeting cards plastic free.

From 2018 visitors to the Hever Shop were given the option to have a free paper bag or pay 5p for a plastic bag or £2.95 for a specially designed Hever Castle Bag for Life.

Food waste and composting:

The Restaurants where possible use local produce.

The gardening and catering team have been working together to cut down on food waste on the estate.

Food waste from the Restaurants (cooked food, raw meat, vegetable peelings and coffee grinds) is taken daily into a composter behind the Moat Restaurant and then emptied into a 400 litre food composter near the Biomass, opposite the Main Entrance. A second composter will follow at the entrance to the Pavilion Restaurant.

Grass cuttings, herbaceous prunings and annual weeds are also added to the compost mixture.

Hever Castle is the first Restaurant Associates Venues site to have its own food composter.

Paper:

Across the estate there is an emphasis on reduction of paper and in the offices recycled paper is used and recycled after use.

Contracts for weddings and corporate events are no longer sent in the post but can be signed digitally.

Sewerage and wildlife:

Former owner William Waldorf Astor installed the most amazingly sophisticated sewage system in his day, which involved collecting the sewage underneath the castle and injecting it by air across to the stable blocks on the other side of the public road and from there back underneath the road and then underneath the river and one mile up to the golf course. It then flows underground across the golf course before entering the sewage lagoons which contains 20,000 plants – a mecca for insets, birds, frogs and toads.

Literally all of the sewage is gobbled up by the plants. It also does not rely on any electricity and the only maintenance required is a bit of weeding to stop the nettles taking over in places.

The sewerage treatment system was renovated in 2009 and this has proved to be particularly beneficial for wildlife, as well as proving significantly more reliable.

Duncan said: “These sites have also encouraged a healthy bird population with reed buntings and reed warblers, animals and insects, and many amphibians setting up home here.”

The gardening team have worked with the Kent Wildlife Trust over the last 10 years to establish new habitations and healthy ecosystems. The team also strives to incorporate plant diversity across the 150 acre site and choose plants that encourage pollination and support the healthy bird and insect population at Hever.

Hever Castle Golf & Wellbeing:

At Hever Castle Golf & Wellbeing (just a mile down the road from the Castle), the sustainability measures continue with its heating and hot water also run from the biomass system.

The team have vastly reduced its use of pesticides, recycle all cardboard and glass used in service, plastic tees have been removed, building products selected and they use recycled composite decking.

Rob Peers and his greenkeeping team have also undertaken careful conservation of the woodland areas surrounding the golf holes, planted wild-flowers areas and created a wildlife friendly pond.

A bug house, Hedgehog burrow and other wildlife friendly features have also been added to the new walk through to the Castle.

• Visitors and staff can email green@hevercastle.co.uk with any ideas about sustainability

Latest News