Fiennes – 15th century

Three members of the Fiennes family, distant relations of the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, owned Hever Castle in the fifteenth century. Sir Roger Fiennes, Treasurer to Henry VI, purchased the Castle in 1423. He built Herstmonseaux Castle in 1441 but just four years later Sir Roger died. His estates were inherited by his brother Sir James, first Baron Saye and Sele and Lord High Treasurer.

In the spring of 1450, Kentish peasants, led by Jack Cade, protested against what they saw as the weak leadership of Henry VI, unfair taxes, and injustices in the Government. Sir James was captured by Cade’s mob and beheaded along with several other favourites of the King. Their heads were placed on pikes kissing each other. Sir James’s gory end was dramatised in Shakespeare’s Henry VI.

The estates and titles of James Fiennes now passed to his son William who, as the second Lord Saye and Sele, owned Hever Castle for the next twelve years. William’s principal residence was at Herstmonseaux and he had little interest in Hever. It was no more than a small source of income and the Castle was sold in 1462 to fund William’s building programme at Broughton in Oxfordshire.


The Castle


The original medieval defensive castle with its gatehouse and walled bailey was built in 1270. In the 15th and 16th centuries the Bolyens added the Tudor dwelling within the walls. The Castle was then owned by a number of families before William Waldorf Astor invested time, money and imagination in restoring the Castle, building the ’Tudor Village’ and creating the gardens and lake.


The coats of arms in the stained glass in the Long Gallery of the Castle commemorate the different residents of Hever Castle since it was built including: Anne of Cleves, William de Hever, Anne Boleyn and Sir John Fastolf. Learn more about the symbolism behind these designs.


Discover the history of Hever Castle, its owners and inhabitants as you travel through time from its construction in 1270 to the present day. These easy-to-use timelines enable you to learn more about key events and how the past owners have shaped the estate we see today.

Tours & Trails

Bring 700 years of Hever Castle history to life with one of the following: an audio guide, a private guided tour or purchase a guide book from the Hever Shop when you visit. Enjoyable trails to follow with young visitors to the castle can also be downloaded.