The area around Westerham is well endowed with historic houses, including Chartwell – home of statesman and writer Sir Winston Churchill. Now owned by the National Trust, the house is in the area of great natural beauty. Winston and Clementine Churchill bought the property in 1922 and had it modernized and popularized by Lutyens. Open from Wednesday to Sunday (Tuesday in July and August). Further down the road, right past the village we will find the Hever Castle. Billed as the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife did spend time here, though she was sent abroad to complete her education. After the Boleyns fell from favours (Anne and brother George losing their heads in the process), Hever Castle passed through many hands over time. It now offers a range of attractions that will easily fill the rest of the day. This romantic Castle is furnished much as Tudorswould have known it, including Books of Hours signed by Anne Boleyn. Outside, excellent gardens include two mazes – one of traditional yew, the other being a splashy watery one.
The castle, serenely towering its island in the middle of a lake where black swans glide, was built for romance – the favourite retreat of medieval queens of England, including Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward the First. The picturesque setting is completed by an aviary crammed with brilliant parakeets and cockatoos, and a maze with an underground grotto. Within the castle walls, the state rooms are still furnished as they were in the days of medieval royalty. The gatehouse has a collection of dog collars from the past 400 years. They include fearsome 16th century German spiked collars and chains a to protect the hounds from bear attacks. An Italian collar of intricately pierced brass made around 1630, and the lush Austrian made 18th century leather collar covered with red velvet.