Although St Peter’s Church stands outside the main entry to “Hever Castle,”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/stately_homes_castles/england/south/hever/index.html many people ignore it in their rush to visit the castle and gardens. This is a shame as it is a very attractive C14th church where Anne Boleyn worshipped and contains the tomb of Thomas Bullen, Anne’s father and her baby brother.
There has been a church here since Norman times although nothing remains from this church, apart from reused stones in the walls. The north aisle was rebuilt first around 1292, followed by the rest of the church in the mid C14th. The Bullen Chapel was added in 1465, when the Bullen family took over Hever Castle. The church was restored in the late C19th when the porch was added, chancel roof replaced and new pews and font added.
Inside it is a very pleasant church with plastered walls with exposed stonework round the windows and the arches of the arcade. The north aisle is the oldest part of the church and this is reflected in the round Norman style pillars of the north arcade. The arches above are pointed, reflecting the later Early English style.
The roof timbers are the original, although the oak boarding over the chancel was replaced in a C19th restoration. The lovely stained glass east window of the Good Shepherd dates from 1898.
The Rood screen separating the nave from the chancel was probably removed during the Reformation, although the door leading to the stairs to the rood loft still survives. Beside it is a small squint.
Off the side of the chancel is the Bullen Chapel with it’s Tudor fireplace and Tudor chest altar. Between the chapel and the chancel is the the massive tomb slab of Thomas Bullen who died in 1538. On the top is a brass of Thomas in his full robes and insignia as a Knight of the Garter, with the badge on his left breast and the garter round his left knee.
In the chancel floor, next to his tomb, is a small brass cross, a memorial to Henry, the infant son of Sir Thomas. Also in the chancel is the lovely brass of Margaret Cheyne, 1419, with two winged angels on either side of her head.
The large painting on the south wall of the chancel represents Christ before Caiaphas and was painted by the Victorian artist Reuben Sayers and was given to the church by his daughter. The painting on the north wall of the nave is c16th and is a painting of the Angel of the Resurrection. The artist is unknown, but it is from the school of Tintoretto.
Most of the stained glass is C19th. On the north wall is the memorial window to William Waldorf Astor, First Viscount Astor, who was responsible for the restoration of Hever Castle.
The church is open daily throughout the year. There is plenty of parking in the large car park across the road. The post code is TN8 7NH and the grid reference is TQ 476448.
There is more information and pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/south/southeast/hever/index.html