This Throwback Thursday photo depicts the Dining Hall, with its large stone fireplace, tiled floor, and windowed screen to conceal the main staircase. The panelling made for a previous tenant, Captain Guy Sebright, was transferred by William Waldorf Astor to the Cobham Wing in 1906 and replaced by a most elaborately carved oak screen and Minstrels Gallery. At the same time a magnificent carved ceiling was fitted, and an oak floor of random width boards was laid.
During the time of the Bullens (as the Boleyn family was originally known), this stunning room was the Great Hall. Initially open to the roof rafters, in 1506 Thomas Bullen added a Long Gallery above it. The Bullen family would have dined in this room and entertained Henry VIII and his retinue here when he visited.
One of the impressive gilt locks on the doors in this room belonged to Henry VIII, whilst the other is a replica. Henry VIII was worried about assassination so, to ensure his safety when visiting other houses, he brought his personal locksmith to fix a special door lock to his bedchamber.
William Waldorf Astor restored and enhanced the hall by commissioning Nathaniel Hitch to install the linenfold panelling and elaborately carved Minstrels’ Gallery, which fittingly rests on a series of carved musicians. The impressive fireplace is of Clipsham stone from Rutland, and is surmounted by the Bullen coat of arms.
Today the Dining Hall, with its beautiful table and chairs, is still used for private and corporate functions. The 24 walnut armchairs which are mid- 17th century style Flemish, were reupholstered in keeping with their original design in 2000. The chairs surround the 17-ft (5.2m) oak table, which dates from around 1600, although its top is a 20th century replacement.
The ornate carving at Hever is one of its greatest glories – from the simple to the elaborate, all the work has been executed by craftsmen who were masters of their art, whether in Tudor times or in the 20th century.
If you would like to enjoy the splendour of the Dining Hall, why not hire it for your next private function.