Meet the staff: Castle steward Iain aka Henry VIII

Castle, History

Iain as Henry VIII

 

Retired corporate bank manager Iain Smith works as a Castle steward to pay for his hobbies of buying expensive books on cathedrals, Toby Jugs and plants.

Along with working in the childhood home of Anne Boleyn Iain also acts as a guide at Rochester Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Knole.

He is fascinated by the history of the Castle and its wider context:

“Anne Boleyn’s footsteps can be discovered all over it. My favourite objects are the Books of Hours because I have made people weep when I explain the significance of the inscribed books and her fingerprints and DNA could be over them.”

As well as being a Castle steward Iain takes visitors on tours around the Castle:

“It keeps your interest as you’re constantly thinking about how you can reinterpret the castle in a more informative and engaging way. You learn from the public’s reaction to it.”

Children’s reactions are always the most entertaining. Iain clearly remembers a 5 year old girl who thought Henry VIII had a big bed because he had six wives.

Iain has seen a lot of changes over the 16 years he has worked as a castle steward:

“The castle and grounds have been cleverly enhanced over the years. Not just in the grounds but to see the Castle contents collection enhanced. You never know what will happen next.”

A Christmas event is also relatively new:

“You used to go home in October and rematerialise in March. Now we are an all year round attraction with a strong festive focus on Christmas.”

As well as being a Castle steward Iain also takes on different characters, he was the first Father Christmas when Hever created a grotto and is a regular King Henry VIII patrolling the Castle entrance:

“If you’re going to dress up you’ve got to be the top man.”

“It’s fascinating to engage with the youngsters as Henry and give them a welcoming high five. They delight in trying to get me out of character as I always insist I am over 500 years old.”

“The real enduring delight is to engage with children to explain what Tudor life would have been like.”

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