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Hever Castle prepares for Dazzling Daffodil displays from March 16

Do you know what a gauntlet is? Well, it turns out that it’s not just a form of corporal punishment (to run the gauntlet) but it’s also the name of a very posh glove!

Up until a week ago I wouldn’t have been able to pick out a gauntlet from a doublet.

Gauntlet from 1540
Gauntlet from 1540

My quest to find out what a ‘gauntlet’ was began while I was taking a quick meander through the Long Gallery at Hever Castle. I was in the Gallery looking for Tudor roses and rose related imagery to inspire our ‘Hever in Bloom’ rose focus this June when I came upon an item that, please forgive me, looked a little like an oven glove.

On closer inspection it turned out to be a ‘gauntlet’ dating from 1540.

I wouldn’t normally be drawn to Tudor dress, (apologies to our visitor services team!) but on this occasion it was the tiny yellow embroidered daffodil in the corner of the glove that caught my attention.

According to the history books, Edward IV forbade the importation of foreign gloves to England in 1462 and this law remained until the Victorian’s rebelled and asked for foreign mittens!

This made me wonder whether the daffodil glove was in fact English. It’s handy when you have a historian on site as we do at Hever, so I asked Alison Palmer our resident conservation and engagement assistant at the Castle, and she confirmed that the gauntlet was indeed from 1540 and that it had been purchased by Hever’s owners at an English Renaissance Sale at Sotherby’s in 1983.

An embroidered daffodil in the glove
An embroidered daffodil in the glove

Now, I might not know much about doublets and gauntlets or oven gloves for that matter, but I do know about daffodils.

In recent years I’ve planted thousands and thousands to compliment the significant collection planted by William Waldorf Astor at Hever at the turn of the 20th century. We now have roughly 38,000 daffodils at Hever.

Brought to the UK by the Romans, daffodils have always shared an important place for many. There are literally thousands of different cultivars, some date back hundreds of years and some are newly bred in the last few years by pioneers in the field such as Johnny Walkers.

Neil Miller at Hever Castle
Neil Miller at Hever Castle

Johnny Walkers, the man behind Walkers Bulbs, will be at Hever again in March for our annual event ‘Dazzling Daffodils’, where he will accompany me, and daily tours of enthusiastic visitors, as we wend our way through the rivers of gold that adorn Anne Boleyn’s Orchard, Sunday Walk, Church Gill Walk, the outer moat and the banks of the lake at Hever.

It’s worth noting that Johnny has won 25 consecutive gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for his magnificent daffodils, so what he doesn’t know about daffodils isn’t worth knowing. Johnny will be imparting his amazing breadth of knowledge on the tours and following talks during our festival dedicated to narcissi.

Dazzling Daffodils at Hever (31145908)
Dazzling Daffodils at Hever (31145908)

And, I can’t wait to see him and show him my daffodil embossed ‘oven glove’ or gauntlet!

If like me, you look for daffodils and see them everywhere you go at the moment, then do pop down for Dazzling Daffodils running from March 16 to March 22 at Hever Castle.

From March 16 to March 20 there will be daily tours with Johnny Walkers and with the gardening team on March 21 and 22.

Learn more at www.hevercastle.co.uk/whats-on/dazzling-daffodils

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