Hever Castle & Gardens has welcomed the recent updates to Government guidelines that now allow private gardens to reopen as an alternative space to spend time outdoors. The Castle’s Gardens reopened on the 1st June to members and the public.
Of course, the award-winning gardens will be operating under social distancing guidelines and there will be new safety measures in place to protect its visitors and staff.
One big difference is that everyone will need to book a date and time slot online in advance (including Annual Members), this is to limit visitor numbers to help maintain social distancing. They warn that those without tickets will be turned away.
Before booking, Head of Visitor Services, Faye Kelly advises that you “read the important information provided on our website and the reopening FAQs. There is a map that includes the new one-way system that is in place and a short video to explain our safety and hygiene promises – to help you feel reassured before visiting”.
She added that “Our front of house team are excited to be welcoming you, our visitors, back to Hever Castle. They are here to help you at any stage of your visit, so please do ask if you have any questions.”.
Once inside, visitors not in the same household will be asked to stay two metres apart from each other with floor markings at the till points to help customers queue safely, screens at tills, different entry and exit points where necessary, hand sanitiser dispensers, and card transactions only.
In the initial period, the gardens, lake walk and boating will be open. Toilet facilities will be available with additional measures in place for hygiene and social distancing.
Other open-air attractions including the water maze, archery and the play areas and a takeaway food and drink service will follow as soon as possible. Meanwhile, indoor areas, like the castle, miniature model houses collection, military museum and garden exhibition will all remain closed.
The gardens at Hever Castle are home to an ever-changing display of wonderful plants and shrubs throughout the seasons. At present the rhododendrons, azaleas are in bloom and the roses at Hever which are always particularly admired are already providing a kaleidoscope of colour and wonderfully perfumed aromas. As the days lengthen, the Mediterranean-style planting within the Pompeian Wall bursts into life and the herbaceous border displays hundreds of different perennials, each vying for attention.
Hever Castle’s CEO Duncan Leslie said: “We are delighted that we can welcome visitors back to our gardens and grounds. Many of the paths are one way for everyone’s safety and reassurance and while some parts such as the play areas remain closed I am confident a visit here will be a great antidote to the world’s woes. Why not pack a picnic and try out one of the many new picnic spots created on 16 acre Island and around the lake. Spots in the sun, in the shade, looking over the river or the lake, all beside beautiful mixed grass and flower meadows – bird song has never sounded clearer.”