1st Sep 2013 - England day trips
Kent - Home of Charles Darwin and Hever Castle and Pooh Bridge
A truly wonderful day out...
Started off from our home in West Sussex about 0930 with Mum and her friend Lyn in tow. Good progress made to Downe in Kent - our first stop. I have wanted to visit the Home of Charles Darwin - Down House for ages. I became very interested in him when I visited the Galapagos Islands and even though I am a Christian I am very interested in his ideas. It is an English heritage property so Martin and I got in free as we have membership. £10 for adults otherwise. Two hours needed - probably no more. Definitely take up the opportunity of the audio guide as one of the more interesting ones and didnt get bored or inpatient once and narrated by David Attenborough. The visual displays were informative and interesting but what I really liked was the sense you got of Charles Darwin as a man - a family man as well as his place in history writing the Origin of the Species as well as his great journey on the Beagle. He was born into money and I wonder how the world would be different if he hadnt been - it seems to me that if he hadnt had family money then he never would have been able to go on the Beagle voyage because he couldnt afford it and following that thought then he could never had seen and done the things that formed the ideas and theories he had to write the Origin of the Species. The other thing I found very interesting was that he was a strong family man - many children with the deaths of at least 3 that shook the family to the core. His wife was a very strong Christian although Charles didnt appear to be and stopped going to church after the death of one of his daughters. However it seems that the marriage between them was very very happy and strong despite very different religious views. I wonder what his wife really thought about the Origin of the Species. Anyway the house as well as the gardens are beautiful. Small teashop there and whilst we didnt partake it looked lovely.
We then drove to Hever Castle - also in Kent specifically Edenbridge. I have been here once before several years ago and loved it and have been wanting an opportunity to come back. No membership here so £15 per adult to get in to the Castle and grounds - however a great place to spend the whole day. Hever Castle is the childhood home of Anne Boelyn - wife of Henry the 8th. It seems to be a small castle - very personable and you could feel yourself living there as not as lavish as other castles. The grounds are extensive and I made everyone pay £3 for a boat ride on the lake - you can also hire row boats and canoes but nobody would join me so went for the easy option. Then went for lunch - Mum and Lyn eating their breakfast leftovers and me and Martin sharing sandwiches. The cafe and restaurant there is situated in a lovely setting - a short walk from the entrance. We walked around the Italian gardens which were laid out in 1904ish - just stunning with lots of Italian marble belonging to william Wadorf Astor- very formal. Also other gardens including the rose garden and rhododendren walk as well well as a collection of trees over a hundred years old. There is a maze made of yew trees and even better a water maze - lots of kids there having a great time. I love that water maze. Then we went into the actual Castle itself - 3 main construction periods of the castle with the first being in the 1200's. It was brought in the 1500's by the Bullen family and they added a tudor dwelling in the courtyard. I think Anne was actually anne bullen and somehow she become Anne Boelyn as did the rest of the family. Somehow it then became henry's property afetr he married Anne and eventually he gave it to one of his other wives Anne of Cleves. Astor brought it in the early 1900s and restored it. There is an amazing gallery of medieval tourtore instruments - very clever and well thought out. Also a gallery of Henry and all his wives in real life form and costume - quite interesting as a blurb on each - some of the wives looking very similar in appearance. Then we continued to wander around the grounds with a look in the shop which also has an expo of model houses and castles.
On the way back to West Sussex Lyn saw the sign for hartfield and wanted to go that way as she had lived and worked there for a while. as we were so close to pooh Bridge in 100 acre wood of the AA Milne tales we had to stop and walk down to Pooh Bridge and have a game of pooh sticks. Not good for Mum doing the long walk back up the hill but she did it.
One great day out :)
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