Sude­ley Cas­tle and Gar­dens

Period Living - - Out And About -

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

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