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Sudeley Castle

Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

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Sudeley Castle, just north of Cheltenham is nestled in amongst the Cotswold Hills and offers an experience of 1000 years of history with the old ruins of the castle and the ruins of an old tithe barn set in magnificent gardens. Old roses and clematis climb the ancient walls and the various themed gardens show the vision of Emma Dent who restored and redesigned them in the 19th century as well as by Lady Ashcombe during the 20th century. You can follow in the footsteps of Katherine Parr as she had done when accompanying Lady Jane Grey on her walks. As well as the Tudor era the more modern contemporary gardens are also celebrated with an installation in 2005 of 'The Happily Every After Garden' which has tall wrought iron letters clad in climbing roses and honeysuckle, spelling out the phrase.

Sudeley Castle and Grounds

A little bit of History

Sudeley has had a connection with Royalty since the year 1000 when King Ethelred gave the Saxon manor house and estate to his daughter Goda, sister of King Edward the Confessor on her marriage. During the reign of King Stephen the manor house was fortified and was seized and made into a royal garrison, the first castle, in a different site, was then destroyed. Sudeley Castle, not the existing house, but the original castle on this site was built in 1442, along with the Chapel (not St Mary's Church) and the Tithe Barn. In 1469 it became Royal property when the owner at the time was forced to sell Sudeley Castle to the King.

Around the time of 1483-1485 the Banqueting Hall and adjoining state rooms were built (now in ruins). It moved in and out of Royal hands for a few years but by 1535 it was back as Crown property and it was visited by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. 1547 after the death of King Henry VIII it was granted to Sir Thomas Seymour, who married Henry VIII's 6th wife and widow, Katherine Parr, and they moved in, in 1548, but by August that year Katherine died 7 days after giving birth to a daughter and she was buried in the Chapel of St Mary. During the civil war it became a garrison and headquarters of King Charles. In 1649 it was ordered that the castle be rendered incapable of being a military post again and the castle was destroyed.

The Knot Garden
Myk Reeve

For two centuries the ruins were neglected and changed hands many times,  until in 1837 when it was bought by John and William Dent, wealthy glove makers from Worcester. They set about restoring some of the surviving parts, making it habitable again and over the next half century the Dent family improved and added to both the house, gardens, estate and also neighbouring Winchcombe. It is still part of the Dent-Brocklehurst family today and is a private home for the current family. However like many large stately houses it has been affected by the ravages of death duties, but has managed to stay in the family by the fact that in 1969 the decision was made to open the Castle to the public. It opened two years later and since then tourists from around the world have been able to enjoy the gardens and ruins.

So as a visitor what can you see at Sudeley today. Well you can explore the 14 acres of gardens with topiary, water features and ruins, which include:-

The Queens Garden - sits on the original parterre and is a showcase for both traditional and modern English roses surrounded by yew hedges. As well as the roses you will also find, clematis and agapanthus amongst them.

The Knot Garden - this can be found within the old castle walls and old yew hedges evokes the style of garden of the Elizabethan period. This particular version was created in 1995 and incorporates box hedges in a pattern off a dress worn by Elizabeth I, interwoven with gravelled beds. In the centre is a mosaic fountain.

The Mulberry Garden - with its old Mulberry Trees is at the foot of Dungeon Tower. The trees leaf out in spring, whilst in the summer old cottage and country flowers carpet the ground below the banks of cowslip and primroses. Late summer the area is closed off for a short period whilst the Mulberries drop their juices onto the ground.

A view from the Garden

The White Garden - a garden of white flowers to be found around the chapel.

The Secret Garden - A walled garden on three sides with the fourth wall made of hedge. Originally designed in 1979 to celebrate the marriage of Lady and Lord Ashcombe, raised beds were used to display the flowers. In 1998 it was further invigorated to commemorate the marriage of their son. In spring it is festooned with colours of purple, lavender, white and pink from over 1,000 tulips.

The Victorian Kitchen Garden - this garden sites next to the main stone arched gatehouse. This is now more of an exhibition garden with the produce planted in raised beds, rather than a practical garden which supplies the house.

The Happily Ever After Garden is a structural installation of tall wrought iron letters spelling the name of the garden and they are clad in climbing roses and honeysuckle, very fragrant.

The Tithe Barn Garden - across the lawns from the main house there is the ruined remains of a medieval Tithe Barn, alongside which runs a canal of water which is home to Koi Carp. A good site for reflections of the ruins. Wild roses meander around the archways of the ruins, hydrangeas, wisteria and wild clematis can also be found here.

Tithe Barn

The Wildflower Walk and Meadow - The wildflower walks takes you from the Tithe Barn past the Victorian Kitchen garden and on to the Pheasantry. The path meanders under a canopy of tress and wildflowers of Oxeye daisies, sweet rocket, cranebills amongst others carpet the floor below.

The Castle Ruins - the only remaining part of the old castle is a wall of gothic windows and an old fireplace with a an old stone chair, the garden here has been created in what would have been the Tudor Banqueting Hall.

   Sudeley Castle Ruins

There is also The Pheasantry and Wildfowl area which houses 15 of the rare and endangered species of birds from around the world.

Exhibitions - various exhibitions which illustrate the history of the castle are housed in the Long Room and adjoining galleries.

Plant Centre - specialising in old-fashioned roses, herbs and bedding plants which you can purchase and take home for your own garden.

Guided Tours of the private apartments also take place on some days of the week during their opening season. Take a look at their website for details on when they operate, at what times, what you get to see and prices.

As well as these attractions there are also other events taking place throughout the year from Jousting Battles, ballooning grand prix, Garden and Country festivals, NGS open days and more. Their website will keep you up to date.

Castle Gatehouse   Frank Lane  Garden View

Further information Grid



Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

Ceremonial County: Gloucestershire

Grid Reference:


Map Link:


Aerial photo: Google Aerial Photo 



Best Times to Visit:

During the summer for the flora in the gardens





Other useful websites:


Nearby Locations:

GWSR Railway

Hailes Abbey

Belas Knap

Other Relevant pages: Gloucestershire Attractions


Planning Grid


Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

Grid Reference:


Getting there:

Situated near Winchcombe, 8 miles north east of Cheltenham on the B4632.


From Winchcombe follow the brown tourist signs, off of Vineyard Street.


Car park on site but also car parks within Winchcombe village


Coffee shops, plant centre, gift shop, Picnic Area, children's adventure playground

Things To Do, See and Photograph:

gardens, castle ruins, tithe barn ruins, pheasants, main house, St Mary's Chapel, Viewpoint

What to take:


Nature highlights:

butterflies, wildflowers, mulberry trees and others


Sudeley Castle




GL54 5JD


01242 604244 10am-5pm other times 01242 604357

Opening times:

26th Mar-6th Nov: Daily 10.30am-5pm for Gardens, Grounds and Exhibitions.
House only open for Connoisseur Tours - see website for details.


Adults: 7.20; Concessions 6.20; Child (5-15) 4.20;
Children under 5: Free; Family (2+2) 20.80
Friends of Historic Houses Association: Free

Photo Restrictions:


Other Restrictions:  
Special Needs Access: Limited to the Gardens and Pheasantry & Wildfowl area. Exhibitions not suitable for wheelchairs.
Special Needs Facilities: Designated car park near castle, disabled toilet near visitor centre.
Children Facilities: Adventure playground. Children should be supervised at all times.
Dogs Allowed: Only assistance dogs for disabled visitors

lease let us know any other information that we can add to the Further information and Planning Grids or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.


By: Keith Park Section: Castles Gardens Historic Houses Key:
Page Ref: sudeley_castle Topic: Castles Gardens Historic Houses Last Updated: 03/2011

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