Sudeley Castle

Sudeley Castle - Photo ©
Michael A.Linton, September 28th, 2017

Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire
Photo © Michael A.Linton, September 28th, 2017

Sudeley Castle - Photo ©
Michael A.Linton, September 28th, 2017

Sudeley Castle is a castle located near Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, England. It dates from the 10th century, but the inhabited portion is chiefly Elizabethan. The castle has a notable garden, which is designed and maintained to a very high standard. The chapel, St. Mary's Sudeley, is the burial place of Queen Catherine Parr (c. 1512–1548), the sixth wife of King Henry VIII, and contains her marble tomb. Unusually for a castle chapel, St Mary's Sudeley is actually part of the local Church of England parish.


Sudeley Castle was established prior to 1066, and recorded in the Domesday Book. A complete chronological list of the owners of the castle can be found here:

In 1469, Edward IV of England confiscated the castle from its owner, Ralph Boteler, 1st Baron Sudeley and gave it to his brother, who later became Richard III of England. After Richard's death at the Battle of Bosworth, it passed to the new king, Henry VII, who then gave it to his uncle, Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford. By the time Henry VIII of England succeeded, the castle was the property of the Crown again. It had been visited by Henry in 1535, with his second wife Anne Boleyn, but had been empty and unattended for some time.

When King Henry died, the castle became the property of his son, Edward VI of England, who gave it to his uncle, Thomas Seymour who was made Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley and married the King's stepmother, Catherine Parr. During this time Thomas began to regenerate the castle for Catherine's use, but only one room that he had built remains today. Seymour and Catherine moved into the castle and brought with them ladies to attend on the Queen Dowager, as well as gentlemen of the household and Yeomen of the guard.

The castle was then home to over 100 people. Famous figures who came to live in the castle were Lady Jane Grey, who was a ward of Seymour's, as well as the teenage Lady Elizabeth Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and second wife, Anne Boleyn.

Catherine died after she had given birth to a daughter, Mary, at Sudeley Castle and was buried in its St. Mary's Chapel. Her grave was discovered in 1728 after the castle and the chapel had been left in ruins by the English Civil War. She was later reinterred by the Rector of Sudeley in 1817.

Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire

Seymour's ambitions led to his being arrested and beheaded; after which, Sudeley Castle became the property of Catherine's brother, William Parr, who was the Marquess of Northampton. Parr was stripped of his property and title after being involved in the failed attempt to make Lady Jane Grey Queen of England.

In 1554, Queen Mary gave Sudeley Castle to John Brydges, 1st Baron Chandos, and it remained as his property throughout the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Elizabeth was entertained three times at Sudeley Castle, which included a spectacular three-day feast in 1592 to celebrate the anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

Current ownership

The current owners are Elizabeth, Lady Ashcombe, wife of Henry Edward Cubitt, 4th Baron Ashcombe, who owns 50 percent of the equity, and her two children — film-producer Henry (married to Hawaiian model Lili Maltese at the castle in 1998) and Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst — who each own 25 percent. This situation arose when the children's father, and Elizabeth's first husband, Mark Dent-Brocklehurst died intestate in 1972.

Visiting the Castle

The castle itself has guided tours three days a week.

Cultural References

Recovering from the Crisis

The BBC's investigation, Crisis at the Castle, highlighted the problems of running a family home as a visitor attraction. Closing the castle to the general public on some weekdays meant that visitors were disheartened when embarking on their day trips, and resulted in a dramatic fall in visitor numbers in the three years leading up to the creation of the program.

The year 2007 marked a turning point from the turmoil; a change of internal staff and the use of external consultants has helped the business gain focus, and change public perception. Media Eden Ltd, a design and marketing consultancy, has been instrumental in putting on a wide range of events to cater for all age groups, and promote the castle’s facilities to a new market. The castle has many areas to promote such as holiday cottages, exhibitions, rare breed birds from around the world, top class wedding and event facilities that had been neglected of promotion; giving focus to these key areas of business means that the ground work has been put in place to ensure that 2008 sees a return to profitability. The promotion of all of these facilities in their own entities, as well as Sudeley in entirety, has made sure that the general public are aware of how much Sudeley has to offer as a visitor attraction, even with limited access to the castle.


  1. ^ N. T. P. Murphy (1981) In Search of Blandings

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