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History of Hever

Hever comes from the Anglian words ‘hēh’ meaning ‘high, tall, Important’ with ‘yfre’ as ‘the edge or brow of a hill’; therefore, a ‘high ridge’. The Textus Roffensis records Hever as Heure.

Hever parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Peter. The Normans built it towards the end of the 12th century, with much rebuilding and additions in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. The Bullen family added a chapel around 1450, providing the final resting place for Sir Thomas Boleyn – Grandfather to Queen Elizabeth I. In 1703, Richard Phelps cast and hung five bells in the tower. In 1797, Edward Hasted described St Peter’s church as a ‘small, but neat building, consisting of one isle and two chancels, having a handsome spire at the west end of it’. In 1887, Mears and Stainbank added a treble to make six bells. The Victorians carried out the main restoration in 1894, by completely refitting of the church…. more

In 1272, Edward I gave Sir Stephen de Penchester permission to convert his manor house at Hever into a fortified castle – Grade: I listed building. Sir Stephen built the gatehouse, walls and moat. In the 15th century, the Bullen – later to become Boleyn – family bought the castle restoring much of it and updating the interior to the Tudor style. Within two years of Anne’s death, Sir Thomas, the last remaining Boleyn, died, and the king claimed the castle, giving it to Anne of Cleves, who lived there until her death in 1557. There followed a gradual decline until 1903, when, no more than a farmhouse, William Waldorf Astor bought it. He employed the architect Frank L Pearson to restore the castle and create a beautiful garden. He excavated a 35 five acre lake and rebuilt the house to look like a Tudor village from the outside. Astor, a naturalised Briton, and having been promoted to Viscount Astor of Hever, died in 1919. Following the death of his grandson, in the early 1980’s, a Yorkshire based property Company bought the estate and maintained it as a stately home - open to the public - and conference centre.

Hever railway station opened on the London Brighton and South Coast Railway’s 12 mile stretch from Hurst Green to Ashurst, providing a more direct route between Tunbridge Wells and London, on 1 October 1888…. more