Hever Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boylen, the second wife of Henry VIII and Mother of Elizabeth I.
Dating from the 13th century, this magnificent crenellated castle in Kent is surrounded by a moat and set in 50.5 hectares of pristine parkland, much of it managed for wildlife.
Thanks to William Waldorf Astor, a wealthy American-born attorney, politician, businessman and newspaper publisher, the castle was restored in the early 20th century. It boasts beautifully adorned rooms with panelled walls and is filled with antiques, tapestries and fine art, including a magnificent collection of Tudor portraits.
Astor spent a great deal of money creating a giant 15 hectare lake surrounded by lavish gardens divided into "rooms", including The Loggia, the Italian Garden (complete with Pompeiian Wall and classical statues), a Tudor Garden and Rhododendron Walk. There is also a giant topiary chess set, two mazes (one made of yew, the other on water) and a quintessential English Rose Garden featuring more than 4,000 rose bushes, including its own own Hever Rose, which erupts into masses of velvety deep-red blooms fading to cerise, offset by golden-yellow stamens.
There are lots of walks to undertake, including one that follows the course of a stream, and another, known as Anne Boleyn's Walk, which winds its way through an impressive collection of trees planted more than a century ago.
Other highlights include a permanent display of model houses, which illustrate the development of English country houses from Tudor to Victorian times, and a military museum that includes the reconstruction of a World War I trench and the interior of a World War II Cromwell tank turret. Exhibits include original artefacts such as photographs, diaries, uniforms, flags, medals and equipment dating back to 1797.
Dogs on leads are welcome in the grounds.
For more information, including opening times and admission prices, visit the Hever Castle & Gardens website.
Photograph: Alexandra Reinwald/Shutterstock.com
Book a stay or table at The Old House Inn (12.5 miles away)