You could fill a fortnight of day-trips visiting the castles of Kent, but start with Hever [pictured] and Leeds, around 35 and 40 miles southeast of central London respective­ly. Leeds Castle dates back to 1119, when it was built around two rocky islands in the River Len. Within 20 years, the castle was being besieged by King Stephen and it became a Norman stronghold, a Tudor palace, a Jacobean country house and a Georgian mansion before opening to the public in 1976. Where a visit to Leeds is about exploring the castle’s state rooms, a trip to Hever is as much about its glorious grounds, 125 acres of award-winning gardens plus Hever Lake, a beautiful spot for boating in the summer months. Hever Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife; you can see two of her prayer books, both bearing her signature, on display in the Book of Hours Room.

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