As visitors walk into Hever Castle, they are greeted with the splendour of the Inner Hall. Part of the original castle, the sumptuous décor belies its original use in Tudor times, when it was the Great Kitchen. During this time there would have been a larger fireplace for cooking and a well for water in the centre of the room. The thick stone walls of the original castle are still evident in the window recesses.
As part of William Waldorf Astor’s restoration of Hever Castle, sculptor William Silver Frith designed the Italian walnut panelling and columns in 1905. The gallery above the hall was also added at this time and was inspired by the rood screen at Kings’ College Chapel, Cambridge.
The ornately decorated ceiling is in the Elizabethan style and incorporates the Tudor rose emblem. Suspended from this is a chandelier made of 20th century silver, copied from an 18th century design from an original at Knole House in Kent.
Today the Inner Hall houses a fine collection of antique furniture, which dates mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries. The oldest piece of furniture in the room is the walnut cassapanca, or marriage chest, dating from around 1550. In Tudor times it would have been used for storing garments, documents and valuables collected during an engagement, but it also doubled as a seat.
The Inner Hall also boasts many fine paintings, with portraits of three generations of Tudor monarchs displayed on the walls: Henry VII, Henry VIII and Edward VI. To the left of the fireplace is a portrait of Anne Boleyn, and to the right is a portrait of her older sister Mary Boleyn.
Read more about the history of Hever Castle.