Hever Castle & Gardens had record visitor numbers in 2018.
Last year 389,016 people visited the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, an increase of 9% on the previous year. The chance to cool off during the heatwave in Hever Castle’s Water Maze may have been the reason for August being the top month to visit with nearly 62,000 people coming to the Kent attraction.
The record visitor numbers came after Hever Castle opened a new natural play area for the under 7s, Acorn Dell which includes a 2 metre high living willow structure, a giant sandpit, a mound with tunnels to clamber in and a climbing frame.
A new permanent exhibition in the Long Gallery curated by historian Dr David Starkey was also opened, designed to tell the story of the Tudors through the art collection. With new state of the art lighting and curtains around each portrait to make them more authentic to the time, the saga from the Wars of the Roses to the Reformation is told.
As well as the changes in the Castle the attraction hosted its first ever Dazzling Daffodils event in conjunction with award winning bulb expert, Johnny Walkers with 14,000 bulbs on display. Other things which contributed to the record visitor numbers was the opening of Faith’s Garden, a new immersive perennial garden was created to mark the Castle’s owners, Mr and Mrs Guthrie’s 50th wedding anniversary.
Hever Castle & Gardens CEO, Duncan Leslie, said: “We are thrilled to have had another record breaking year at Hever Castle & Gardens. Thank you so much to our regular visitors for their ongoing support and also those who chose to come and visit for the first time. The record visitor numbers are down to the hard work and commitment of all of our staff, across the departments who ensure those who come here have excellent customer service.
“Profits are reinvested back into the estate, ensuring that we can conserve and repair the historic Castle and gardens for future generations.”
This year the gates to Park Wood, part of the Hever Castle estate not usually open for visitors will be available for people to see rare daffodils and also bluebells.
And a rare portrait of Mary Queen of Scots unveiled by historian David Starkey is now on permanent display in the Castle. There are only two portraits of her in mourning, the second one (in full mourning) is in the Royal Collection. This painting, discovered in France, was originally thought to date from the 17th century but dendro dating later suggested a date from 1547 onwards.