Tudor se­crets Long-lost gar­den to be re­vealed

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS - phillip.thomp­[email protected]­plc.com Phillip THOMP­SON

THE se­crets of a long-lost Tudor gar­den and ban­quet­ing house at Sude­ley Cas­tle in the Cotswolds are set to be re­vealed.

A two-week pub­lic ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dig is about to be­gin at the cas­tle in Winch­combe and members of the pub­lic will be able to see what is un­earthed on the site of the 15th cen­tury struc­ture.

The dig at the cas­tle, recog­nised as one of the Tu­dors’ most trea­sured palaces, could re­veal fur­ther de­tails about the lives of Henry VIII and his wives – par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the time of the dis­so­lu­tion of the monas­ter­ies when Henry de­cided to break away from the Ro­man Catholic Church.

The ex­ca­va­tion is set to be the most sig­nif­i­cant ar­chae­o­log­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion at the at­trac­tion since the dis­cov­ery of Ro­man vil­las on the es­tate in Vic­to­rian times.

There will be an opportunit­y over half-term for vis­i­tors to see first-hand what is un­cov­ered.

The ex­ca­va­tion will be led by a team of ar­chae­ol­o­gists from Digven­tures, who will cre­ate three trenches in the cas­tle’s Hop Field, be­hind the fa­mous Queen’s Gar­den.

Peo­ple will be able to watch the dig be­tween Tuesday, May 21 and Sun­day,

June 2, al­though there will be no digging on Bank Hol­i­day Mon­day (May 27).

As well as vis­it­ing the dig site, vis­i­tors to the cas­tle will be able to see the arte­facts found by ar­chae­ol­o­gists and chat to ex­perts about what has been dis­cov­ered.

It comes af­ter a suc­cess­ful test dig was car­ried out at the cas­tle last Oc­to­ber, which re­vealed ev­i­dence of one of England’s last sur­viv­ing Tudor gar­dens – hid­den in the cas­tle grounds for nearly 300 years.

Ini­tial find­ings included frag­ments of post-me­dieval pot­tery, ma­sonry and an­i­mal bones.

Fur­ther ex­plo­rations of a mound, dis­cov­ered in the mid­dle of the field, could now con­firm that it was once the site of a tem­po­rary ban­quet­ing house and the lo­ca­tion of a huge cel­e­bra­tion by El­iz­a­beth I as part of her progress around the coun­try to mark her vic­tory over the Span­ish Ar­mada.

Sude­ley Cas­tle’s gen­eral man­ager, Wendy Wal­ton, said: “This ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dig is a hugely ex­cit­ing and rare opportunit­y for members of the pub­lic to wit­ness the re-emer­gence of a thrilling piece of Tudor his­tory.

“Find­ing an in­tact Tudor gar­den is an as­ton­ish­ingly spe­cial oc­cur­rence. Bring­ing it back to the sur­face would be an amaz­ing achievemen­t and gives us the chance to find out what it would have been like in the days when Anne Bo­leyn, El­iz­a­beth I and Kather­ine Parr, Henry VIII’S last wife, walked its path­ways.”

Lisa West­cott Wilkins, from Digven­tures, said: “This buried gar­den is be­lieved to be one of England’s last sur­viv­ing Tudor gar­dens. Most were de­stroyed in the 18th and 19th cen­turies when a pop­u­lar land­scap­ing craze swept the coun­try.

“We think it is one of per­haps only two in the whole coun­try where the orig­i­nal paths are still in place.”

The ef­fort is be­ing sup­ported by his­to­rian and au­thor Philippa Gre­gory, who said: “There’s a tremen­dous amount of his­tory in the ground there, which no one has seen since it was buried.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited about this project and can’t wait to see what gets found.”

Sude­ley Cas­tle of­ten housed those clos­est to the crown.

It is where Anne Bo­leyn stayed with Henry VIII while he de­cided to dis­solve the monas­ter­ies and where Kather­ine Parr, Henry’s last wife, lived af­ter he died. She now lies en­tombed in the cas­tle’s church.

To­day the cas­tle is widely recog­nised as one of the most ro­man­tic and beau­ti­ful in England, sur­rounded by a 1,200acre es­tate and 10 award-win­ning gar­dens, which are now full of spring colour.

Its huge fun fort, ad­ven­ture play­ground, ob­sta­cle course and wil­low maze of­fer hours of fun for younger vis­i­tors.

Through­out this year, vis­i­tors can also take part in a new peb­ble trail through the gar­dens, which cel­e­brates bees and but­ter­flies.

In ad­di­tion, a host of ar­chae­ol­ogy themed events are on of­fer at the cas­tle through­out May half-term, in­clud­ing guided talks and tours of the dig site, and chil­dren’s his­tor­i­cal dis­cov­ery ac­tiv­i­ties.

An ar­chae­ol­o­gist at work in Oc­to­ber fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of the long-lost Tudor gar­den at Sude­ley Cas­tle Eloisa Wild­smith

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.