Hever Castle came into the possession of Henry VIII after the death of Anne Boleyn's father, Thomas Boleyn, in 1539. He bestowed it upon Anne of Cleves in 1540 as part of the settlement following the annulment of their marriage. Hever Castle still has one of Henry VIII's private locks, taken with him on his various visits to noblemen's houses and fitted to every door for his security.
The property subsequently passed through various owners, including the Waldegrave family from 1557 to 1715, and the Meade Waldo family from 1749 to 1903. During this latter period of ownership, the castle fell into a poor state of repair, during which time it was leased to various private tenants.
In 1903, it was acquired and restored by the American millionaire William Waldorf Astor, who used it as a family residence. He added the Italian Garden to display his collection of statuary and ornaments. In 1983, the Astor family sold the castle to Broadland Properties Limited