24.10.2012 14 °C
We had a relaxed start this morning to avoid the rush hour. Kate was going to take the dogs for a long walk in the neighbourhood and she suggested that she could take us most of the way to Hever Castle so as to avoid the long torturous route that the GPS might plan out for us. There were a lot a very narrow, windy roads and we marked up the rental car going through a particularly narrow section. Neil went to work on it as soon as we got back to Beckenham and got it looking all clean and shiney again. When we got to Hever Castle we were pleased to find that it was not crowded and that besides the castle there were acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. We paid for our tickets and I also rented one of those audio guide machines that give you the history of each room when you press the appropriate button. Hever castle was built before the time of Henry the VIII but it became famous because Anne Boleyn grew up there. He visited her at Hever a number of times and once Henry was married to her, Anne's father's fortunes increased immensely. Queen Elizabeth 1st grew up at Hever as she was Anne Bolyen's daughter and before she ascended the thrown was also confined at Hever Castle for some time. There are three levels at Hever and they are filled with priceless works of art and furniture. There were also original paintings of Queen Elizabeth 1st. The first was painted shortly after she had became queen and the second painting was painted when she was over 20th years older. One of the things that impressed me most was the book of The Hours which was Anne Boleyn's own prayer book. It was written in Latin and the art work was beautiful, and still bright and colourful. They even have wax replicas of Henry VIII and each one of his 7 wives. The Hever Castle was restored in the early 20th century by a very wealthy, Mr. Astor, who made many improvements and restored much of the old rooms. He also had a very large Italian garden where he had all his Italian and Roman artifacts placed. The Hever Castle also has two large water moats around it which I really liked because most moats have vanished from other castles. I was able to buy more Play Room figurines of knights and ladies at the gift shop. I have lost track of the number of figurines I've bought on this trip but they are all unique and not for sale in Canada. Tomorrow will be the last full day in London. We're going into the city on the train to buy some English cheese at Neil's Yard.