A memorable weekend at Hever Castle and Squerryes Estate

Recent events

Almost 60 people arrived at a fully-booked Hever Castle on Friday afternoon for my Master’s weekend. We were so lucky with the weather over the weekend. The sun shone most of the time, and the scene was set for some joy!

Team pic outside Hever Castle

It started on Friday afternoon, when the guests really enjoyed the guided tour of the 125 acre Hever Castle Gardens:

This is where we first came across the incredible work of William Waldorf Astor who purchased Hever Castle and Cliveden together in 1903. Reputed to be one of the wealthiest men in the USA at the time, we were told that he brought $100m with him when he moved to the UK. We saw the incredible changes he made to upgrade and improve the gardens, the buildings, and the plumbing. A highlight of his work was the creation of a 38 acre lake through the hard work of 800 men over 2 years.

The visit to Squerryes vineyard on Saturday morning was spectacular.

Squerryes Court: a late 17th-century manor house

I am pleased to say that the Plumbers picked many grapes, and ate a few, prior to completing the tutored wine tasting conducted by Henry Warde, owner of Squerryes, in the sunshine at the vineyard:

The fly past by a Spitfire and a Hurricane from Biggin Hill was a bonus.

Lunch at Squerryes Court, Home of the Warde family for 300 years was excellent:

The Warde family motto ‘Licet Esse Beatis’ – it is permitted to be joyful – strikes a chord with my objective of bringing Joy to the Plumbers in my year.

The guided tour of the castle and the formal dinner on Saturday evening, and the tour of the Hever heating system and the Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry Museum on Sunday all went well.

Alec Moir revealed in his speech at the formal dinner that his Scottish ancestors had been imprisoned in the Tower of London due to their support for William Wallace! Our Clerk was very impressed with our Tudor Entertainer’s competence at playing the Hurdy Gurdy so well at the reception prior to the formal dinner:

The Master and Consort with Tudor minstrel Dante Ferrara in the hall at Hever Castle

On Sunday morning, we were all bowled over by the extent of the Hever biomass heating system, which apparently provides power to Hever village at extremely competitive rates:

It was also fascinating to spot the links between Hever, Squerryes and the City of London. Sir Geoffrey Bullen who purchased Hever in 1462 was Master Mercer in 1454 and Lord Mayor of London in 1457. He was also Anne Boleyn’s great grandfather. Sir Patience Warde is an ancestor of Henry Warde, the owner of Squerryes Estate. He was Master of The Merchant Taylors in 1671 and Lord Mayor of London in 1680.

In overall terms, the weekend provided an excellent opportunity to enhance the sense of fellowship in our Company. I do hope that all the guests left feeling a warm sense of friendship and joy in these volatile times.

Master Nick Jones


Farewell to Hever Castle