Summertime fun at Hever Castle & Gardens
There’s fun for all the family at Hever Castle & Gardens in Kent this summer with a packed programme of events and activities.
Step back in time
Jousting Tournaments will take place on 8th-9th, 15th-16th, 22nd-23rd, and 28th-31st August, when the brave Knights of Royal England return to battle it out. Follow the procession from the Castle forecourt as Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn lead visitors across the grounds to the Jousting Arena. Then choose which knights you support and cheer them to glory.
The tournaments will test the knights’ skills to the limit both in the saddle and on foot. Spectators will be treated to exciting displays of action, stunts, falls and fights as the brave knights compete for points. The highlight of the competition is the duel on horseback between two knights riding against each other on their beautiful Spanish horses at full tilt armed only with a four-metre lance and a shield.
Visitors can experience life during the Tudor period at Tudor Living with Jousting from 29th-31st August. Watch displays of armed combat and discover what life was like for a professional soldier when English archers ruled the battlefield. Teams of archers will discuss the history of the bow and compete against each other to show their prowess and skill.
Be sure to visit the stalls in the tented encampment where you can chat to re-enactors and listen to music played on traditional instruments. Demonstrations of authentic crafts, armour making, cookery, children’s games and even gambling will take place each day.
It’s a dog’s life
Now in its third year, Paws at the Castle – on 1st-2nd August – is a weekend dedicated to our canine friends, with informative displays, entertainment and a fun dog show. This year’s event is all about dogs in service with displays by dogs from the Police, MoD and security industries as well as fire and rescue services.
Watch demonstrations from Bravo Working Dog Rescue, the UK’s only non-profit welfare organisation dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of failed and retiring working dogs. Bravo will bring a couple of its dogs along with experienced handlers to give a display of bite work used to restrain people.
The Royal Army Veterinary Corps recruiting team will demonstrate military working dogs’ obedience and search training techniques. The RAVC provides the service lead in the development of good husbandry, training practice, preventative medicine and care for service animals. There will also be displays from Fire Investigation Search Dogs, called out to fire scenes where arson is suspected. During the demo, the handlers will explain what the dog’s training involves and will be on hand throughout the day to answer questions.
Newfoundland dogs return to impress with their size and strength as they leap from a boat on the lake to effect rescues and tow a boat. Look out for a Newfoundland puppy in the line-up, as well as guide dog puppies guaranteed to delight visitors with their cuteness while their elders demonstrate obedience and skills.
And it’s not just about dogs in service. Over the weekend, visitors have the chance to enter their four-legged friends in a fun dog show, with awards for the winners in each category. It’s a great opportunity to parade your pet against the beautiful backdrop of the historic castle and admire the canine talent on show. Owners can also talk to experts about their dog’s behaviour and browse the wide variety of stalls selling dog-related goodies and accessories.
Fun for all the family
Dating back to the 13th century, Hever Castle is what every child wants a castle to be: crenelated, moated, and with lots of armour and gruesome torture devices in its Gatehouse (thankfully not still in use).
It is surrounded by glorious grounds to get lost in including the Water Maze, 100-year old Yew Maze, and Lake Walk. Children can let off steam in the Adventure Playground, and there’s a fascinating collection of period miniature model houses in a small museum next to the Gift Shop too.
Additional activities over the school summer holidays include Have-a-go Archery* and boating* on the 38-acre lake, as well as trips on the African Queen Steam Boat* (*additional charge). Families can make a day of it with lunch in the award-winning restaurant, which also serves afternoon tea with delicious cakes, or bring a picnic to enjoy in the grounds. Refreshments and ice creams are available from kiosks to round off the perfect summer day out.
Gardens open at 10.30am; Castle opens at 12 noon. Last admission 4.30pm; final exit 6pm. Admission Prices – Castle and Gardens: Adults £16; Seniors £14; Children (5-15 years) £9; Family ticket £42.50. For further information, visit www.hevercastle.co.uk or call 01732 865224.