Chartwell, Hever Castle and Ightham Mote

May 5th, 2014, 08:00 PM
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Chartwell, Hever Castle and Ightham Mote

Is it possible to do all three in one day?

I am trying to squeeze in a trip to the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum on a separate day and we won't have time for everything that we want to do so we need to prioritize or consolidate.

Chartwell--1 or 2 hours??
Hever website recommends 4 1/2 hours--is that accurate? Do you need that much time for Hever Castle and Gardens?
Ightham Mote --1 and 1/2 hours?

Plus travel time in between--

Should we skip the Weald and Downland and concentrate on Chartwell and Hever on one day and then Ightham paired with something else like Sissinghurst instead on another day? We will be staying in Kent so the Weald and Downland museum will be a longer drive than the others mentioned. It looks interesting and different but we also want to see the above properties too. I welcome thoughts and advice. Thanks.
europeannovice is offline  
May 5th, 2014, 10:39 PM
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Possible but rushed. I've twice managed Hever, Chartwell and Penshurst Place in one day starting out from gatwick. The issue w/ Hever and the reason it takes comparatively a lot of time is the gardens are enormous.

Cutting out some of the grounds at Hever would be a way to make the day easier.
janisj is online now  
May 6th, 2014, 04:56 AM
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If it were me, I'd drop Hever Castle completely. It's wildly over-rated in my opinion (especially the gardens which are at best average compared to so many others in the SE of England). The day we visited Hever was over-crowded with kids running around playing ball games, bins over-flowing with takeaway food wrappers, coach parties of tourists being herded around the cramped castle rooms on a timed ticket basis and a tacky "medieval" jousting special event, all of which detracted from the real history of the place.

The Weald and Downland Museum near Chichester on the other hand is much quieter and lower profile, but has much less of a "theme park" atmosphere. It is quite a trek from Kent on busy roads, and (depending on your level of interest in relatively unremarkable old buildings) possibly not worth devoting an entire day including travelling time.

I thought Chartwell was excellent and we were there for at least 4 hours, though you could rush round in 2 if pressed for time (note that they also operate a timed ticket system for visits inside the house, so you may find when you arrive that you cannot enter for several hours if it's busy, e.g. at weekends/public holidays).
Gordon_R is offline  
May 6th, 2014, 06:02 AM
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Agree with Gordon, I thought Chartwell was terrific too. Unexpectedly interesting, I'm not a WW2 buff but I found the Churchill memorabilia rooms fascinating. The house itself, set out as it was when Churchill lived there, was also great. The grounds too also pleasant to walk around. We were there just short of 2 hours and I wished we had had another hour - meant we had to rush a bit round the house.
NB what Gordon says above about the timed entry system, while you are waiting for your slot you can wander round the grounds, there is also the usual café and shop.
As you are in Kent, try Tudeley Church - tiny church, but a gem, I absolutely loved it with the Marc Chagall stained glass windows (details of the background to this on wiki).
Mary24 is offline  
May 6th, 2014, 06:19 AM
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Well I thought Hever Castle was awesome - plus it reeks of history of Anne Bolyene living here - in a tranquil rural area. Would put that at the top of my list (though I have not been to Chartwell) - Igham Moat was nice too but a few hours there was enough.
PalenQ is online now  
May 6th, 2014, 06:30 AM
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Chartwell is wonderful. Good advice to visit the grounds first if the wait is long. We found two hours was enough but we didn't have to wait to get in. Loved the studio next to the house where Churchill painted. I enjoyed Hever castle but think two hours is plenty. Pretty neat to see poor Ann Boleyn's bedroom where Henry VIII probably visited.
Micheline is offline  
May 6th, 2014, 07:34 AM
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It's Anne Boleyn. But don't feel bad, her father is buried in the church next to Hever Castle and the marker identifies him as Thomas Bullen, so the whole family had spelling issues.

Hever is nice, but it has also been completely rearranged since Henry 8.0's wife II lived there. You don't need four hours there at all.
BigRuss is offline  
May 6th, 2014, 03:01 PM
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I also agree - I do enjoy Hever but it isn't even in my top 5 in Kent/east Sussex. The grounds are much of a much . . .

Chartwell is a must IMO - Hever is 'visit if you have time'
janisj is online now  
May 6th, 2014, 04:24 PM
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Thanks all. This helps a lot.

Gordon--I know what you mean about crowds making a place less enjoyable than it might otherwise have been. We loved Hampton Court Palace and while it was crowded you still had plenty of space to wander around the grounds and the castle without others hovering and crowding about. Whereas, I did not enjoy Versailles due to the throngs of people all around. I couldn't wait to leave the main building. The grounds were a much better experience. I thought from my reading that Hever was a mini version of Hampton Court Palace but I could be wrong having never been there.

Pal--yes the historical aspect with Henry the VIII and Anne Boleyn is a draw but then again the Asters took over and re-arranged most things.

Janisj--curious as to what your top 5 in Kent/East Sussex might be? Others please tell me as well--what are your top 5 for the region?

We do want to attempt to go to Weald and Downland although it is further from where we are staying because it sounds rather intriguing and we want to go to the Seven Sisters area in Eastbourne too.

I saw the time travel series about the restoration of Ightham Mote thanks to a fellow fodorite who recommended the video a while back and that is on our "must see" list along with Chartwell. We enjoyed both Blenheim Palace (sorry, Flanner and the Churchill War Rooms so we are looking forward to visiting Chartwell for sure.

As far as gardens, we do want to visit Sissinghurst and Wisley so if Hever is heaving with people and the gardens are nice if we have the time, we may have to skip it this time so we can squeeze in all the other stuff we also want to see/do.
europeannovice is offline  
May 6th, 2014, 05:18 PM
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the Asters took over and re-arranged most things.

Typo--meant to write Astor not Aster
europeannovice is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 03:21 PM
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Anyone want to share their top 5 list for Kent/East Sussex?

Is it Dover, Bodiam, Chartwell, Sissinghurst, Hever? Or??? Curious to what folks like as the top picks for the area.
europeannovice is offline  
May 7th, 2014, 04:10 PM
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Dover/Deal/Walmer (as one since they are all practically next door to each other), Chartwell, Sissinghurst, scotney castle, Penshurst place, Igtham mote, Great Dixter, Bodiam . . . Then Hever, Knlole, Leeds etc.
janisj is online now  

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