Visiting Hever Castle has been on my want-to-do list for a very long time now. I have a love of history, especially the Tudor period, so a day spent at the childhood home of Anne Boleyn was always going to be a wish of mine.
However, when you’ve got kids it’s not necessarily somewhere you feel confident in taking them to. So Hever was often moved lower on our where-next pile. But that all changed when our recent East-Sussex staycation found us near the path of this historic castle. Fate was telling me it was time & with a little bit of apprehension, I roped husband & kids into a day-trip there with me.
And thank goodness I did! Visiting Hever Castle with kids in tow far exceeded my expectations.
Here’s why we loved visiting Hever Castle with kids (plus some top tips to get the most from your family day-out there)…
History is made fun & accessible
More & more historical homes & gardens are offering kids’ play areas etc, (and this is on offer at Hever too) but what about when you actually want to wander the Castle? When – as you rightly would at Hever – you want to truly take in the fact you are standing where Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII, Anne of Cleves, I could go on, once tread?
How the heck do you get the kids invested enough to experience the history with you? Well, Hever Castle has this covered. For £3.75 you can hire a children’s multimedia guide. In my opinion, this was the best thing we did.
Your child is given their own mini-tablet and headphones which guide them from room to room with a child-friendly overview. Plus they can answer a quiz question on their learning & much to my kids’ delight, a touch-screen rub-away tool, where they could rub-away on the screen to magically reveal what the room would have looked like in its original state. I personally went around with an informative keepsake guide book (£5) but I will admit to being slightly jealous of them!
Usually, we wizz around these places in a matter of minutes – willing them not to scale a rope or break a priceless heirloom, but this wasn’t the case whilst at Hever with the kids, we were easily in the Castle for over an hour.
Flexible to fit your family’s needs & interests
All families are unique so what appeals will be different. But there is a lot on offer at Hever Castle to meet your family’s needs & interests.
Here is just some of the family-friendly fun:
- There’s exploring in the Mazes (more on these in a moment.)
- Playground adventures for kids of all ages
- Boat & Pedalo hire on the picturesque Hever Lake – make sure to stop and grab an ice-cream whilst here.
- Discover the Minature Model Houses
- Have a go at Archery & Shield Painting (available during school holidays & weekends, up until the end of Autumn Half-Term)
- And if you still need more, there’s a Military Museum too!
You can bring your own picnic or eat in one of the multiple restaurants & kiosks around the grounds. We personally took in our own food this visit, but next time we’re there I’m heading for one of the delicious looking Eccles cakes in the café!
Easy to navigate… but mind you don’t get lost in the mazes!
Hever Castle & Gardens are large. There is a lot to explore but not so much that little legs will get exhausted.
The only tricky navigation comes in the form of two mazes, the Water Maze & the Yew Maze. We had great fun exploring the 100-year old Yew Maze with its 8-foot high hedges and plenty of twists & turns to navigate. Thankfully, we made the centre without too much of an ordeal.
Unfortunately, as it was a rainy day we missed-out on attempting the Water Maze, however, I can imagine this being even more fun with its hidden water jets squirting you as you attempt to reach the stone grotto in the middle. It’s a good excuse for us to go back though!
Good to Know: Buggies & pushchairs can be used around the grounds, but can’t be taken into the Castle. I would also say this applies to both mazes as well.
My Top 5 tips for visiting Hever Castle with kids:
01. If you feel your children are far too young to enter the Castle itself, but you don’t want to miss out (and if you’re visiting with another adult) why not take it in turns to go around the Castle. As mentioned there’s a play area to keep little ones amused, and also the Yew Maze is very close to the castle entrance, making it easy to swap over care as required.
02. Download the Castle Tudor History Trail for free prior to your visit. This is an alternative to the paid audio guide. It contains things to spot and questions to answer in each room – another helpful way to get the kids involved & interested.
03. If you’re going to explore the Water Maze, pack a change of clothing for the kids (including shoes & socks). You’re not guaranteed to get wet but there is a pretty good chance!
04. Check in advance of your visit for any special events. During our visit there was an opportunity to take part in a Knight & Princess school. We didn’t need to pre-book this, but it is helpful to work out start times etc prior to arriving ensuring your day flows as you would like it too. Plus, you may like to plan your visit to coincide with these seasonal events.
05. The grounds of Hever are stunning. I could’ve wandered them for hours. Why not take or create a ‘nature look & find’ sheet increasing the time you can happily spend exploring them. I would recommend including grapes, Roses, statues, ducks & fountains as just some of the things to spot whilst there.
Hever Castle is a truly fun & full-day out
As I mentioned at the start, I was nervous that I would be the only one to have any real enjoyment from the visit. However, Hever have expertly anticipated the needs of visiting families today to ensure every visitor, both young and old, can come away having learned something and most importantly with fulfilled happy smiles on their faces.
I wouldn’t hesitate to take my family back to Hever Castle and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone considering a visit.
For more information, opening times, ticket prices, planning your visit, click here.
Want even more Happy Days out with the kids? Read:
- Happy Days Out: Tower of London Review
- Happy Days: Legoland Discovery Centre Birmingham
- Happy Days Out: KidZania London Review
Have you been to Hever Castle & Gardens already? What was your experience? Are you considering visiting Hever Castle with kids? Or, like me was it something you initially ruled out? I do recommend Hever as a destination for anyone (regardless of whether you’re a family or not) to visit. If history isn’t your thing, the gardens & grounds at Hever were just so pretty, my favourite I’ve visited in the UK so far. Why not book a garden ticket, take a stroll, hire a boat on the lake and stop to have an ice-cream in the peaceful surroundings or book yourself in for an afternoon tea? Anyway, if you have any questions about my visit, or comments, or anything really, get in touch via the comments box below. I’m happy to help & always love to hear from you!