The first room you discover is the Drawing Room designed for William Waldorf Astor. The beautiful oak paneling and plasterwork ceiling create a warm clubby feeling, and you can imagine yourself being comfortable here and looking out the old, recessed glass windows and onto the lovely gardens.
The Inner Hall, where the 15th-century kitchens were housed, has a ceiling that incorporates the Tudor Rose. A portrait of Henry VIII dominates the room but Anne and her sister Mary shouldn''t be overlooked. Before you leave, let your eyes be drawn up to the beautiful carved-wood gallery.
The Dining Hall has a 16th-century tapestry and a fireplace bearing the coat of arms of the Bullen family. None of this is original but the recreation is believable. The Entrance Hall however, dates from the period of Anne’s father, Sir Thomas Boleyn. The old beams and studs are displayed as well as a collection of religious vestments.
You feel as if you are in a time machine here as you leave the 16th century and head for the 19th-century Library. Then you go back again as you view the date 1603 carved into the morning-room fireplace.
As lovely as the downstairs rooms are, it’s the upstairs rooms that really charmed me. After climbing steep stone steps, you''ll find yourself in Anne’s Room (tradition has it this was her bedroom); I love the portrait of her in this room--she''s a woman I can imagine charming a King.
From her bedroom, you pass through a small closet that contains a copy of her parent''s tombstone from St. Peter’s Church. Very little is known about this pair that had three such extraordinary children.
You cannot help but be drawn into the drama surrounding Anne in the next room, where you read her notations in her two "books of hours." In one she writes, "The time will come" and in the other, "remember me when you do pray, that hope does lead from day to day." It''s fascinating stuff.
Hever’s history doesn’t end with the Boleyns. The Waldergraves owned the place from 1557-1715 and, as they were Catholics, added an Oratory in 1584 that they hid behind some paneling. (You can view it through an opening)
The Astor Suite tells the history of the Astor family in America and England. Check out the garderobe as you leave through the 13th-century gatehouse.
January 7, 2003
From journal London-Days Out