As the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Hever Castle became the backdrop to a turbulent period that changed British history, monarchy and even religion. This medieval castle was rescued from ruin by William Waldorf Astor (yes, the American). Between 1904 and 1908, he completely renovated the Castle and laid out the gardens on a majestic scale. Over 1000 men worked on the grand design of the gardens with 800 men taking two years to dig a 35-acre lake!
I particularly love the eclectic nature of the design: there is a surprise around every corner. The work on the castle and gardens is reputed to have cost over $1 billion in today’s prices. The result is spectacular
Rudyard Kipling’s life was a story of fame and misfortune. A most colorful life: from his birth in Bombay and his career as a journalist in India, to his instant success as a writer in England, living in Vermont, and winter holidays in South Africa with Cecil Rhodes. He needed to live peacefully.
To Kipling, Bateman’s house and 33 acres of land was an English idyll. Yet tragedy has left a sense of sadness amidst the tranquil gardens and home that had mellowed over the centuries. It feels very intimate. I was especially moved by Kipling’s voice reciting his poem ‘If’ and imagined him walking through the woods deep in thought.
The Bohemian circle of artists and writers, known as the Bloomsbury Set, spent many creative years at Charleston. Artists, Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Wolfe) and Duncan Grant, formed an idiosyncratic household in a modest farmhouse tucked beneath the Downs. They proceeded to craft paintings on every available surface. The neglected walled garden and paddock became a prolific kitchen garden, lawn, and a ‘dithering blaze of flowers, butterflies and apples’. A place to dream, play and perform amateur theatricals.