Oct 112019
Visiting Sudeley Castle

For Lucy’s birthday, her parents took us to visit Sudeley Castle, which is located near Cheltenham in the Costswolds. It was a gorgeous, crisp day and I ended up taking quite a few photos. Since it was such a beautiful experience, I thought I’d do a post on visiting Sudeley Castle!

Sudeley Chapel

A Bit of History:

I didn’t really do a lot of advanced research before visiting the castle, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was surprised to learn how much history is behind Sudeley, particularly surrounding Henry VIII, and then the Civil War.

Sudeley Chapel is where Katherine Parr was buried, though her remains no longer exist. Apparently when they discovered her tomb, her body was so well preserved it was still moist!

Lucy’s favourite part was the entrance to the grounds. We came around the corner towards the ruined tithe barn surrounded by a fern glade — it was enchanting in the early autumn sunshine.

Visiting Sudeley Castle

We were impressed by the chronological exhibition. It was a thoughtfully-presented historical narrative, but not too detailed.

Some key facts:

(check out their history page which explains in more detail)

  • The region was inhabited in the Neolithic area, and there were loads of arrowheads on display.
  • The castle is situated in an area where Roman villas were built.
  • Winchcombe Abbey was founded in AD 798 by Offa the Saxon King, and this area later developed into the town of Winchcombe, which was at one point the capital of Mercia.
  • The castle is named after Harold de Sudeley, and is cited in the Domesday Book.
  • The main castle, chapel and tithe barn were built using spoils from the Hundred Years War
  • It was forcibly sold to Edward IV  during the War of the Roses
  • Richard III became owner and built the banqueting hall
  • Henry VIII met there with Thomas Cromwell to plan the dissolution of the monasteries
  • During the Civil War, Charles I took refuge at Sudeley, and then being shunned by Cromwell, the castle lay derelict for over 200 years.

It was impressive to see remains of the castle still standing, with its intricate windows and stone work intact, despite being attacked by canon fire.Ruins of Sudeley

In the Victorian period, the estate was restored by the the Dent family (glove and textiles manufacturers), and I particularly loved the displays of lacework and samplers.

The Highlights:

My favourite aspect of the castle was the physic garden! They had the gardens arranged by doctrine of signatures, as well as botanicals used for fragrance. It was such a privilege to be able to see in person some of the plants I’ve studied for years in 18th century manuscript recipe collections.

Physic Garden Label

Other highlights of the grounds included their world-famous collection of roses, and a sanctuary for endangered exotic pheasants.

In the garden

If you’re every visiting Gloucestershire, Sudeley Castle is certainly worth a visit, particularly if you’re a history lover or into gardens!

For more travel posts see: Visiting Oxford – a virtual tour with me! and Scotney Castle – A Bank Holiday Visit

 

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