HEV1This walk was a landmark for the Society and was dedicated to the memory of Rowland Oakeley, whose route it followed. (It is number 42 in volume 4 of The Society’s publications of Country Walks). The 4¼ mile circular walk is easy-going, being almost entirely on the level, and taking about two hours or so. Refreshments are available at The Henry VIII pub in the village. The Walk The route takes you through part of the valley of the Eden, heading north initially to How Green, criss-crossing the river, following quiet country lanes and pathways, and passing through ancient hamlets and farmland before the return to Hever Station. (This is about a mile south west of the castle – it’s best to check its location on the Ordnance Survey map). In the vicinity are several ancient buildings, such as The Thatched Cottage and Hever Brocas, both originally medieval “hall” houses.

HEV2After glimpsing How Green House, built in 1906 for Mowbray Charrington of the brewing family, and designed by the progressive Scottish architect Robert Weir Schultz, the route provides a clear view of the splendid Whistler’s Farmhouse, another Grade 2 listed building, probably also a 15th century hall house in origin

Heading south you come to the Delaware Farm complex with its manor house built for the Streatfeild family of Chiiddingstone who were connected with the old iron industry, and dated 1679 over its door. Further south you pass by Lydens farm, its late C18 elevation and modern additions masking an older framed structure, possibly C16. Look out for the ruins of the oast-houses.

These historic properties and working farms lie scattered in tranquil countryside with the Greensand Ridge to the north and the High Weald to the south, and dissected by the River Eden as it meanders through farms and villages towards its confluence with the River Medway at Penshurst.

Hever itself is an ancient settlement, its origins going back at least to the Iron Age with its first mention in a document of 814. The small settlement was on the fringes of the Andredswald (today’s Weald). By the time the Romans arrived in the first century AD, some enterprising locals had taken advantage of the natural resource of wild boar roaming the forest, and were raising piglets in captivity at a site on the banks of the river and known as ‘The Pig Pen Under the High Bank’, soon shortened to just ‘High Bank’ – in old English, ‘Hean Yffrge’.

HEV3The famous castle was originally a fortified farmhouse built by Sir William de Heure in 1270. It was converted into a castle in 1459 by Sir Geoffrey Bullen (=Boleyn), Lord Mayor of London and Anne Boleyn’s great-grandfather. Anne was brought up at Hever and as we all know was courted, wedded, bedded and beheaded by Henry. Centuries later in 1903 it was bought, renovated and extended by William Waldorf Astor and the lake and 125-acre gardens created. The Astors departed in 1983 and since then the castle has been owned by a property company.

St Peter’s church dates back to 1292 and contains the tomb of Sir Thomas Bullen, father of Anne Boleyn and so grandfather of Queen Elizabeth the First.