On the death of Sir Stephen Scrope in 1408 the Hever estate was released to his widow Millicent and her new husband Sir John Fastolf. Sir Stephen’s son, also Stephen, became the ward of Fastolf meaning that he was legally under the care of his stepfather. Fastolf enjoyed Stephen’s inheritance for 51 years before he died in 1459.
Fastolf was a soldier during the Hundred Years War but has enjoyed a lasting reputation as ‘Falstaff’ in Shakespeare’s Henry IV Parts I and II and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Fastolf was a demanding and irritable man. One of his servants wrote: “cruel and vengible he hath been ever, and for the most part without pity and mercy”. It appears that he also treated his stepson in this way. In 1421 Stephen came of age but was not allowed his inheritance so joined the French wars under the banner of Duke Humphrey of Gloucester to seek freedom from his stepfather. However, he was persuaded by his mother to join Fastolf’s service in France as his secretary and Hever Castle was sold to obtain funds for the campaigns.