The beautiful village of Chiddingstone is found right on the doorstep of Hever Castle, where Henry VIII famously courted Anne Boleyn. With the king a regular visitor to the area, we often wonder whether the famously peckish king ever passed through The Castle Inn's doors...
One of the best-preserved Tudor enclaves in the country, Chiddingstone village is blessed with many beautiful and historically important properties – including our very own Castle Inn, of course.
With our property dating back to early 15th century and our sister pub, The Wheatsheaf at Bough Beech, thought to have been built in the 14th century, they were both around in the days where Henry VIII was known to gallivant around the local countryside pursuing his many whims.
With Hever Castle just down the road, its owner Sir Thomas Boleyn (the father of Henry’s doomed wife, Anne) is said to have bought property in Chiddingstone village during the early 1500s.
Believed to be the oldest working shop in the country today, one of those properties (now the gift shop, grocery store and Post Office known as The Tulip Tree) dates way back to 1453.
For a while, Thomas and his family must have led an idyllic life – but then Henry decided to execute his daughter and the family fell from the king’s grace. Today’s soap opera plot writers are still playing catch up with that one.
Henry’s connection with Kent had already formed long before his romantic pursuits brought him to this corner of the Garden of England, however.
In 1493, at the tender age of three, he was appointed Constable of Dover Castle and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
With such an early start in life, it’s easy to imagine the future king stalking deer through the Kentish countryside long before his teens.
Of course, Henry was always an innovative king and when the Roman Catholic church wouldn’t allow him to divorce Catherine and marry Anne, he infamously chose to break away from Rome to be with her. Shakespeare couldn’t have scripted it better.
Some say, in fact, that Hever Castle was partly responsible for the formation of the Church of England. It was certainly a tumultuous time.
It’s not just Hever that Henry had links to either. Leeds Castle, Manor Gate House Penshurst Place and Walmer Castle were also among his entourage’s regular stomping grounds.
Around a 10 minute drive from us, Penshurst Place’s Baron’s Hall has been described as “one of the grandest rooms in the world” – so, of course, Henry bought the place. It was eventually gifted to Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce settlement. He never was one to hang around…
While we have no records to confirm that Henry VIII enjoyed our historic inn’s hospitality, we like to imagine that once upon a time, at least for one evening, he was king of the Castle.