Spotlight on the Castle: The Waldegrave Room

Attractions, Castle, History

The Waldegrave Room - Hever Castle

This room is named after the Waldegrave family, who lived at Hever through the reigns of the last of the Tudor monarchs and into the Stuart dynasty.

When Queen Mary I (eldest daughter of Henry VIII) came to the throne in 1533, the Waldegraves were in royal favour. In 1557, after the death of Anne of Cleves, Sir Edward Waldegrave was appointed one of the Commissioners to sell any land that the crown had seized and, upon beginning his new role, assigned the Castle to himself.

Once within the Waldegrave room the eye is drawn to the superb French Oak and walnut four-poster bed c.1485. However, you can also find a small chapel, or oratory, which was built after Queen Mary’s death in 1558. Hidden behind panelling, this chamber was built so that Sir Edward could practice his faith in secret, following Elizabeth I ascension to the throne.

Oratory Chapel - Waldegrave room

Within the Oratory Chapel a 19th century painting of The Virgin in Ecstasy is featured, along with an Italian rock crystal cross c.1700 which sits atop an exquisitely carved Spanish altar.

James Waldegrave was the last of his family to own Hever Castle. He had seen his father struggle following the countries refusal to accept a Catholic King. To stay in favour he renounced his Catholic faith, took the Oath of Supremacy, conformed to the Church of England and took his seat in the House of Lords.

It proved to be an advantageous move as he was appointed Ambassador to France in 1725 and, in 1729, was elevated to the Earldom of Waldegrave. The Castle at Hever proved to be too small for his growing status and the Castle was sold to Sir William Humphreys in 1715, a former Mayor of London. This ended the Waldegrave’s ownership of Hever Castle after 158 years, which is still the longest period of ownership in the Castle’s history.

Stained glass window - Oratory Chapel, Waldegrave Room

Looking at images taken in the 19th century, the two windows on the south side have been bricked up and the remaining three seem to be plain, square glass panels, similar to what we have in some rooms now. The window tax of the 18th – 19th centuries meant a lot of the windows in the castle were bricked up, but many seem to have been reopened during Sebright’s tenure at the castle. We cannot be 100% what the windows were like in Waldegrave’s time or who eventually re-opened them.

To find out more about Hever Castle’s interesting history, please see our archives.

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