Sudeley Castle and Gardens
Visitor services manager Kim Gibbon shares the important role this Tudor castle has played in England’s history for over 1,000 years.
Can you give a brief history of the property?
Set against the backdrop of the Cotswolds hills, Sudeley Castle and Gardens boasts impressive royal connections. The castle was once home to Queen Katherine Parr, the last and surviving wife of King Henry VIII, and Henry himself, Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Queen Elizabeth I and Richard III have all played a part in its story. King Charles I found refuge here during the Civil War, when his nephew Prince Rupert established headquarters at the castle. Following its ‘slighting’ on Cromwell’s orders at the end of the Civil War, Sudeley lay neglected and derelict for nearly 200 years, before being rescued in 1837 by Worcester glove-makers, brothers John and William Dent, who began an ambitious restoration programme continued by their nephew, John Coucher Dent, when he inherited the castle in 1855.
How is it presented today?
It was Coucher Dent’s wife, Emma Brocklehurst, who threw herself enthusiastically into Sudeley’s restoration, at the same time forging strong links with the nearby town of Winchcombe. It is the results of Emma’s dedication that are so evident in the gardens and exhibitions at Sudeley today. As well as being the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within the grounds, Sudeley is now the home to Elizabeth, Lady Ashcombe and her son, daughter and their families, who are committed to its continued preservation and the ongoing restoration and regeneration of the gardens. The castle rooms and exhibits contain many treasures, from ancient Roman times to the present day, while outside the castle is surrounded by a breathtaking 1,200-acre estate.
What’s new for this year?
2018 is set to be a momentous year, with a complete overhaul of Sudeley’s exhibitions, including two new self-guided tours, as well as the new bigger and better play fort – a highlight for visiting little lords and ladies.
Sudeley Castle & Gardens is open from 5 March to 21 December, 10am-5pm.* Admission: adult £16.50, child £7.50, family £43. Tel: 01242 604244; sudeleycastle.co.uk