Sudeley Castle, surrounded by award winning gardens with magnificent views of the Cotswolds, has Royal connections dating back over 1000 years to the time of Ethelred the Unready. The castle was built on its present site in the 15th century and a magnificent banqueting hall was subsequently added by Richard III. This is now a romantic ruin.
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Sudeley has been involved in turbulent historical times. On a visit to the castle with Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII met with Thomas Cromwell at nearby Winchcombe Abbey to plot the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Henry's sixth wife, Katherine Parr, lived at Sudeley after his death during her later marriage to Thomas Seymour. In a fascinating exhibition, there are love letters from Katherine to Thomas Seymour, her paramour. She was an intellectual, clever enough to outlast Henry and, unusually for a woman in the 1500's, was a published author. Buried at Sudeley, astonishingly, her tomb was lost until its accidental discovery in 1782. Katherine Parr is now buried in the pretty 15th century church.
Sudeley Castle was captured by the Roundheads twice during the Civil War and used as a garrison for troops. Then the castle was destroyed and remained in ruins for 200 years.
In the 1850's Sudeley was acquired by two brothers from the Dent family of Worcester glove makers. They restored the Elizabethan buildings and made the castle habitable, purchasing furniture from the Strawberry Hill sale. A niece, Emma Dent-Brocklehurst, used her prodigious energy supervising 45 years of improvements to Sudeley and collecting fine antiques and a world class collection of lace and needlework, much of which is in the castle's exhibition.
When we visit in June, the famous rose garden, containing more than 80 varieties of roses, should be in full bloom. Called the Queen's Garden, it is named in honour of four queens who visited Sudeley Castle, two of Henry VIII's wives, Elizabeth I and Lady Jane Grey.
Sudeley Castle's history, architecture and magnificent gardens make this an unmissable place to visit.