Hever’s Italian Garden in winter

Hever is one of the most important Edwardian gardens in England, and maintained to a very high standard…The best part is a spectacular five-acre Italian garden where a long pergola (cool dripping fountains all along) leads past a series of exquisite Italian gardens, stuffed with outstanding sculptures, columns, arches, urns, sarcophagi and other loot brought by William Waldorf Astor from Rome in 1903; it finally bursts onto a theatrical terrace, known as the Piazza, and a 35-acre lake…” (Royal Horticultural Society)

Daffodlis showed up at the same time as us when I visited Hever Castle in late December. Despite the warm winter, it was a rainy, damp and chilly day.Hever Castle gardens esplanadeHever Castle Gardens Ducks and Daffodils

I wrote about the fascinating mixed history involving an ill-fated queen and America’s richest man in my previous post on Hever Castle.

William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919) spent time as the US Minister to Italy before settling in England at the end of the 19th century. His newly acquired properties, Cliveden and then Hever Castle, were a perfect setting to display his collections of Italian statuary. Between 1904 and 1908 Joseph Cheal & Son transformed marshland at Hever into a lake and Italian garden under Astor’s supervision.

A revival of interest in the gardens of the Italian Renaissance persuaded William Waldorf Astor at the end of the century to acquire the famous balustrade from the forecourt of the Villa Borghese in Rome, although the authorities prevented him from acquiring the antique statues that stood upon it. …Both at Cliveden and at Hever Castle…Astor’s Roman sarcophagi placed against dark yew hedges, stone urns silhouetted against the sky, and statues situated to emphasize the perspective of a long walk, can be compared with the work of Harold Peto (1854 – 1933) at Buscot Parkin Oxfordshire or Achille Duchêne’s at Blenheim Palace. The effect is a mixture of formality and romantic yearning that can also be found in Eugène Atget’s (1856 – 1927) famous photographs of Versailles at the turn of the century. (Article by Gervase Jackson-Stops in Antiques magazine October 1987 issue)

The Italian Garden beckoned for elegant dresses and a quiet stroll to admire the statuary, some which are over 2000 years old. But there were signs to keep off the grass which meant I had two children dashing around like crazy on the wet stone paths. Here’s some scenes from the Italian garden in late December:

Hever Castle Italian gardenHever Castle Italian Garden arch and gateHever Castle gardens cyclamenReminded me of elephant feet about to trample on the cyclamen.Hever Castle gardens cyclamen pinkHever Italian Garden atatue and archwayHever Italian Garden Japanese QuinceHever Italian sunken gardenThe sunken gardenHever Castle Italian Garden formal pond statueHever Castle Italian garden urnHever Italian Garden fish fountainHever Italian Garden roman pot with flowersHever Italian Garden loggiaHever Italian Garden walkwayHever Italian Garden fountainHever Castle lake and binocularsHever Castle lake and pagodaHever Castle lake and boatHever Castle and its gardens are in the village of Hever in the Kent countryside near both the Surrey and Sussex border. It’s open year round – information available here – but my next return trip will be in the spring or summer when the sun is shining.


12 thoughts on “Hever’s Italian Garden in winter”

  1. Those garden designers of stately homes really knew what they were doing didn’t they, giving a garden worth seeing in any season and even on a damp and cold winter’s day? I have only been to Hever in summer but can see it is worth a visit at any time of year. I look forward to your trip there in warmer weather (and comedic fountain photos with Annie!)

  2. I’ve often seen the signs for Hever Castle when driving through Kent but never visited. Even on a wet winter’s day it still looks quite splendid with its range of sculptures and water features.

  3. Well, if you’re all going to be posing I think I’ll pop along with my camera! Beautiful place Kriss and fantastically captured, the pergola is stunning now, I can’t imagine how much more stunning it’ll become as the year goes on.

  4. I am now also laughing at Annie’s suggestion of comedy posing with the fountains, haha! Beautiful pergola; I’d like to see it in the Summer covered with leaves and shaded ground underneath. What a fantastic place!

  5. Ooo that looks smashing – I must try and get over later in Spring and we can visit together 🙂 Lots of potential for comedy photos posing with fountains !

    It’s so grand, argh I want to go now!

    Thanks for joining in again Kriss xx

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