This 13th-century castle turned Tudor manor house was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife. It was restored by the American William Waldorf Astor, who lived there and filled the garden with classical and Renaissance sculptures.
he gatehouse and walled bailey of this castle link it to the year 1270, but its important position in English history began in 1462, when it was converted into a manor by the Boleyn family. Anne Boleyn lived there until 1513 and Henry VIII sometimes stayed there while he was courting Anne. You can still see Anne’s illuminated prayer books, signed by her, in one of the rooms, along with tapestry belonging to Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII’s fourth wife. However, its interest doesn’t stop there: the Waldegrave family, who lived in the castle from 1557-1715, were Catholics and wished to practice their faith in secret. In the Waldegrave Room you’ll find an Oratory hidden behind wooden panelling so Sir Edward could attend Mass without being discovered.
Make sure to pause on your way in at the 13th-century gatehouse. The drawbridge and portcullis still work - the portcullis is thought to be one of the oldest working ones in England - and you can see a clear difference between the timber Tudor building and the stone medieval wall beside it.The Castle is indebted to William Waldorf Astor and his family, who provided most of the funding for the restoration of the Castle and its furnishings. The Astor Room was named in their honour and has pictures and memorabilia from their time at the castle.
The gardens were created between 1904 and 1908 by Joseph Cheal and Son. The Italian Garden, specially designed to display Sir William’s collection of Italian sculpture, has a man-made lake, which echoes other water features you’ll find in the garden like the Two Sisters’ Pond and the Loggia Fountain, inspired by the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Astor also created a Tudor Garden which is in the style of how it might have been during Henry VIII’s time. There are a number of peaceful walks and avenues to explore, as well as activities such as shield painting, jousting and archery.