An idyllic Kentish retreat for travellers and locals since the 14th century, The Wheatsheaf at Bough Beech has welcomed many characters throughout its history. King Henry VIII spent much time in the area, hunting and courting, and is rumoured to have been an occasional visitor to our historic inn.
Once upon a time, our 14th century inn was a splendid hunting lodge serving the magnificent Hever Castle, which is found just one and a half miles down the road.
Rumoured to have been a favoured retreat of Henry VIII while he courted Anne Boleyn at her childhood home, The Wheatsheaf was just as famous for its hospitality then as it is now.
However, Henry’s connection with Kent had already formed long before his romantic pursuits brought him to this corner of the Garden of England.
In 1493, at the tender age of three, he was appointed Constable of Dover Castle and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
With such an early start in life, it’s easy to imagine the future king stalking deer through the Kentish countryside long before his teens.
Of course, Henry was always an innovative king and when the Roman Catholic church wouldn’t allow him to divorce Catherine and marry Anne, he infamously chose to break away from Rome to be with her. Shakespeare couldn’t have scripted it better.
Some say, in fact, that Hever Castle was partly responsible for the formation of the Church of England. It was certainly a tumultuous time.
We like to think that Henry may have retreated to The Wheatsheaf to partake in his favourite tipple and sign the paperwork, but sadly history doesn’t hold any such records.
It’s not just Hever that Henry had links to either. Leeds Castle, Manor Gate House Penshurst Place and Walmer Castle were also among his entourage’s regular stomping grounds.
Around a 10 minute drive from us, Penshurst Place’s Baron’s Hall has been described as “one of the grandest rooms in the world” – so, of course, Henry bought the place. It was eventually gifted to Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce settlement. He never was one to hang around…
While the times may have changed, one thing is for sure: visit us at The Wheatsheaf at Bough Beech and you’re still assured a warm welcome and a feast that is fit for a king or queen.