Peace and Tranquility at Hever Castle & Gardens (Dilek Karaaziz Sener, ITP 2018, Turkey)

I am Dilek Karaaziz Şener, Art Historian and Curator, Hacettepe University Art Museum, Turkey (and British Museum ITP Fellow 2018).

Now it is week four of the British Museum International Training Programme 2018. Time moves fast! First of all I must say that the ITP is a great learning experience and my knowledge has increased in the process of this programme. I work in the field of museology in Turkey and Cyprus, and everything I am getting from the programme is invaluable for my students at the university, as I can share what I have learnt over time.

All presentations, experiences and practical sessions are very important for us. Also I believe that our visits to various museums, monuments and historic places in the UK are filled with pleasure and knowledge of different cultures, which is a lucky opportunity to explore and learn.

Now we are at our UK partner museums, but I will tell you about our last trip all together before we split off to travel to the UK partners. The unforgettable moments of our visit to Hever Castle and Gardens last Saturday (21 July) were truly spectacular. Our visit was a short trip to the Middle Ages.

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On this journey, all ITP 2018 fellows were accompanied by clouds, flowers, ducks, trees, rose gardens, moments from medieval life, children and, most importantly, dogs walking freely and peacefully in the gardens. Dogs are welcome in the grounds if kept on a lead at all times.  It’s so beautiful to see dogs roam peacefully in the garden, and I am so happy with all creatures living in the world.

Hever Castle is situated in beautiful countryside and has a rich history of more than 700 years. The castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second wife, who became Queen of England for just 1000 days. Hever Castle has splendid rooms which contain fine furniture, tapestries, antiques, an important collection of Tudor paintings and two rare books inscribed and signed by Anne Boleyn herself.

In addition, I would like to point out that I was very impressed by a corner of the Hever Castle interiors that displayed the time of 1905. William Waldorf Astor, who spent his life restoring the castle, painted as an amateur artist. Astor’s paintings, picture stands and photographs and letters with Winston Churchill are also on display.

The Italian Garden and Tudor Garden infuse fragrance all around, and also there are over 4,000 rose bushes in the Rose Garden. All gardens fill your soul with peace and happiness.

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The most remarkable surprise of the visit was witnessing the Middle Ages tradition of ‘jousting’. Jousting is a martial game between two horsemen holding lances with blunted tips, often as part of a tournament. We saw jousting that was like a play in an open air theatre or arena. I should add that it was good that it was enacted, not real, because I strongly disagree with war and death caused by fighting.

We also saw two mazes – a yew maze and a water maze, some displays of miniature houses and the KSY military museum. We returned with the most beautiful memories frozen in pictures.

Thanks to the British Museum, I have made many friends from all over the world.