Last night I was watching the second episode of “The Antiques Roadshow” to come from Hever Castle in Kent. It’s a beautiful place with the castle set in stunning grounds. The program focused on the restoration work that Lord Astor had done to Hever, bringing it back from a disused building in danger of ruin to what is now an incredible English treasure.
What I found fascinating though was not the section where they talked about the building and some of its history, but the fact that NONE of the filming of the members of the public was in the private areas of the castle. The whole episode was filmed from the front of the castle, and as is always the case, the public were not allowed to go “behind the chains” into the Astor wing and its private grounds.
The programme reminded me of the first time that I sat on the private lawns of the Astor wing, drinking a cup of coffee, before the general public was even allowed into the grounds of Hever Castle. The sheer feeling of opulence was incredible! That was on our first Anne Boleyn Experience back in 2010, and it’s a memory I’ll never forget.
Then my train of thought went to our 2011 Anne Boleyn Experience, when on the last morning of the tour, many of our group were again out on the private lawns. One of the groundsmen was carefully pacing back and forth staring intently at the ground. Of course, the group asked me to find out what he was looking for, and the story is very interesting…
He was looking for any weeds in the lawn that were there. I asked “are there many?” and he told me no. The reason was that he mowed that part of the lawn, the croquet pitch, three times a week! After he had examined every square inch of the lawn, he then got out his lawn mower, and proceeded to cut the grass. But not just in one direction! The groundsman first went left to right, zig-zagging back and forth across the area. THEN he went at 90 degrees across the same area. THEN he went at 45 degrees across the same area. What attention to detail!
The funny thing is, that I asked him if he had ever played croquet on the lawn. “Oh no” he replied!
There is something incredibly special about Hever Castle, and the groundsman is just one example of the almost magical experience you have when staying there.
I really hope that we’ll get to see you on one of our 2012 tours so that you too can get to actually STAY in the private areas of Hever Castle that even the BBC don’t go! It’s magic…