Sudeley Castle and Gardens was not on our Cotswolds itinerary. We had not even heard of it if the truth be known. But, rounding a corner in one of The Cotswolds many leafy lanes, we saw a signpost for it. Intrigued, we followed the signs until we came across this beautiful castle. Long term readers of this little blog of mine, will know my penchant for a castle! I love a castle stay, and I love to visit them. Of course we were going to investigate this castle in The Cotswolds! Let me show you around Sudeley Castle and it’s stunning gardens.
Address – Sudeley Castle & Gardens
The Castle is 8 miles from the North East of Cheltenham, on the A46. If you were driving from London, you could be there in around 2 and a half to 3 hours if traffic were kind to you! We were based in The Slaughters for our Cotswolds mini break, and it took us about half an hour to get there.
Telephone – 01242 604244 Website – Sudeley Castle
Opening hours – Open daily – With the current Covid19 pandemic the hours of Sudeley Castle and Gardens can be changeable. It is best to check the website for the current correct information.
Sudeley Castle History
This castle, tucked away just outside the small town of Winchcombe, has history spanning 1000 years. (Incidentally, Winchcombe was one of our favourite 8 Towns and Villages that we visited in The Cotswolds). From around the year 500 – 950 there was an Abbey standing on the spot. A savage and destructive viking attack meant a rebuild. Sudeley Castle has a huge connection to past English royalty. Sudeley is in fact, the only privately owned castle to have a Queen buried within it’s grounds!
Queen Katherine Parr, the final wife of Henry VIII, lived and died in the castle. Her lead coffin entombed body was discovered many years later, in 1782. Her remains are in an ornate marble casket. Katherine lays at rest in the beautiful 15th century Chapel of St Mary, the battered ruins of which were uncovered in the castle grounds as the restoration began to take place.
Sudeley Castle history is speckled with Royalty and noblemen. The history of the castle can be traced back a thousand years!. However, the current structure is from the 15th century. Although King Henry VIII sixth and widowed wife lived here, Henry did actually visit Sudeley Castle with his second wife, Anne Boleyn (who’s childhood home I love). Was this where Katherine first caught the King’s eye? Imagine that conversation in the corridor….
This beautiful Cotswold castle was passed through several noblemen over the years. King Charles I even sought refuge there during the civil war. It was at the end of that war, that the castle was abandoned. It stood empty for 200 years, the surrounding land and nature slowly reclaiing it. Then, Sudeley castle was rescued in 1837 by Worcestershire local, (and wealthy) businessmen, John and William Dent. With their loving care, and pots of cash, they lovingly restored Sudeley Castle and Gardens.
This Cotswolds Castle is so interesting, and just beautiful. But, some of it is still in ruins due to its partial destruction by Oliver Cromwell during the civil war. In fact, one small area of the ruins is the only part of Katherine Parrs resting areas. A “closet”, with its high arched windows has just its outline remaining.
Sudeley castle history is a little torrid for sure! But strangely, I loved this mix of ruin and pristine. I felt that seeing the skeleton of what was the great banqueting hall, gave it an air of magic. The honey hued ruins provided the most beautiful backdrop to the various trees and foliage of the gardens.
The castle is now lived in by the family that currently own the castle, The Ashcombe’s. Several exhibitions and events take place throughout the year. The “Woman of Sudeley” information was so interesting! Some of those Ladies of standing kicked butt when they had to! Many of them had to fight off attacks on the castle.
If you are a fan of the Tudors, you will adore Sudeley Castle. They showcase lots of fascinating items from that turbulent era. Things like Katherine Parr’s handwritten prayer book. A lock of her hair. Her love letters to Thomas Seymour. All help you obtain a tiny glimpse in to how the Tudor era really was.
Sudeley Castle Gardens
There are 10 exquisite gardens at Sudeley Castle. Even if you are not into gardens, you can’t help but be impressed. I did have a favourite.. Perhaps because of my instant love for the less than perfect ruined part of the castle? I’m not sure but my absolute favourite was the “ruin garden” It just felt like a magical, secret hideaway garden. The foliage was slowly claiming the building back, and I loved it.
The glassless windows of the ruins allowed rambling plants to take hold. The sweeping archways, hinting at the beauty of the once perfect banqueting hall captured my imagination.
My imagination ran wild in the Ruin Garden
Another of the gardens I loved was the “Knot Garden”. This sheltered garden has an intricate pattern in it, made from box hedges. An arched pergola sits at one end, adding to the prettiness of the garden. Again, the ruined part of the castle provides a wonderful frame work to this small garden. It was gorgeous and I felt, the one I could imagine Henry and Katherine strolling through. Perhaps discussing who’s turn it was to weed the flower beds……
All of the areas in Sudeley Castle and Gardens are stunning. The colour palette was just starting to change. The greens of summer slowly tarnishing and evolving into the reds, oranges and russets of Autumn. It was so peaceful and calm to wander around.
I would fully recommend finding time for a visit to this castle in The Cotswolds. It is full of history and fascinating information about the people that lived here. If, like us, you are in The Cotswolds for a few days, schedule a visit in. We managed to see a lot in our four day stay in this gorgeous part of the UK. You only need a few hours to enjoy it here.
- Tickets cost around £12 for an adult ticket
- children over 3 £5
- a family of two adults, two children is £30
Sudeley Castle Cottages
The last thing I want to tell you about this Cotswolds castle, is the cottages. Sudeley castle cottages are 16 beautiful and individual properties that you can rent. What a beautiful destination for a Cotswolds holiday! Many of them have been restored from existing outbuildings and properties already there.
Set around a courtyard, the Sudeley Castle cottages are simply, but comfortably furnished. They have well equipped kitchens, so make the perfect self catering accommodation. The cottages have a shared garden, and eight of the cottages allow pets. The cottages also vary in size to accomodate various guest party sizes. Cottages such as Prince Rupert sleep 3, while Almsbury Farmhouse sleeps 14! The Castle Gatehouse it literally my dream property to stay in!
Prices for these beautiful cottages start at around £90 per night for the smaller properties. The largest starting at £350 per night.
You can see full details of all 16 of the cottages just here.
I hope you enjoyed my little tour of this wonderful slice of England’s history. Sudeley castle history is rich and plentiful, that is for sure! If you had not thought about visiting a castle in the Cotswolds, I hope I have shown you that it is well worth it! We loved our day at Sudeley Castle and Gardens and would recommend it fully! What do you think?