William Waldorf Astor, the richest man in America, purchased Hever Castle in 1903. Upon the death of his father in early 1890, Astor inherited a personal fortune that made him the richest man in America. He grew increasingly disenchanted with America announcing that it was ‘no longer a fit place for a gentleman to live’ and in 1891 moved to England with a reputed $100 million. Between 1903 and 1908 Astor set about the restoration of the Castle, construction of the Astor Wing and creation of the lake and gardens.
William Waldorf’s son, John Jacob, inherited the Castle upon his father’s death in 1919. John Jacob had represented Great Britain in rackets at the 1908 London Olympics where he won gold in the men’s doubles. In 1922 he became MP for Dover and purchased The Times newspaper where he remained chairman until 1959 when his son Gavin took over. He was created 1st Baron Astor of Hever in 1956. In 1962 John Jacob placed the Castle in trust for his son Gavin and retired to France where he died in 1971.
In 1963 Gavin opened the Castle and gardens to the public for the first time. Following the floods in 1968 the cost of running the estate was becoming too expensive and the Castle and some 3000 acres were sold to the present owner, John Guthrie, in 1983.