Visiting Sudeley Castle during the day
There are few things that genuinely surprise me nowadays. However, I was invited to visit Sudeley Castle as part of an Instameet event at the weekend, and I really was astounded. You see, we have already visited the castle twice before. On both of these occasions it was for the sensational Spectacle of Light. The castle is used as a wonderful background for the dramatic light show. I really thought that this was Sudeley at its best, however, the castle is just as magnificent during the day, and learning about its history really adds to the experience.
Sudeley Castle is located in Winchcombe, just north of Cheltenham and is surrounded by stunning views of the Cotswolds. It is open from March to December, with lots of events on throughout the year. We were taken around the castle and grounds by our guide, Rosalind, who shared Sudeley’s 1000 years of history with us.
I was fascinated. I knew that Sudeley Castle was once home to Henry VIIIth sixth wife, Katherine Parr. She is buried in St Mary’s Chapel at Sudeley and remains the only Queen of England buried on private land. However, Sudeley Castle has also been residence to a whole host of royals, such as Edward IV, Richard III, Lady Jane Grey, Elizabeth I and George III. It was also the place where Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn stayed at the time where he was planning the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
I learned so much on our tour, and I whilst I would love to share this on the blog, it would make a long read! I would urge you to take a guided tour of the castle and gardens. There are four tours a day, and included as part of your entrance fee.
What I did really like about the castle was the mix of ruins – the castle was ‘slighted’ by the Parlimentarians during the Civil War – and the restored buildings. It helps maintain the history and give a sense of what the castle may have looked like at different points in history.
The castle is surrounded by a 1,200 acre estate with 10 award-winning gardens. Each of these gardens has its own unique style, and the centre piece is the The Queens’ Garden. It is named after four of England’s Queens –Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I. In Tudor times it would have been planted with herbs and possibly also vegetables, and decorative flowers, but now it features more than 80 varieties of roses.
I loved the Mulberry Garden, which has an ancient Mulberry tree at the centre planted by former Sudeley chatelaine, Emma Dent, in the 19th century. She was the daughter of a silk manufacturer so the mulberry tree had special significance as its leaves are the silkworm’s only source of food. At the time of my visit, it was full of beautiful yellow Crown Imperial Lilies.
I was at Sudeley Castle for a few hours, but could have spent much longer. However, I realised that I would be returning before too long. I want to see the gardens again – Rosalind pointed out several features that are spectacular at various times throughout the year. I also have a little history-buff in my eldest, Freyja. We read Horrible Histories for her bedtime stories, and I know she will enjoy learning about Sudeley’s history just as much as I did. Emily, who is less interested in history, would love the various trails that are put on both inside and outside the castle. Oh, and there is also a MASSIVE adventure playground with a huge fort full of hidey-holes to explore, levels to climb, towers, bridges, slides and a climbing wall and also an adventure trail, 10-piece obstacle course, zip wire and swings. The girls are INSISTING we visit soon!
Disclaimer: I received free entry to Sudeley Castle but all thoughts and opinions in this blog post are my own. I was blown-away by Sudeley and I will be bringing the rest of the family back, happily paying the £45 Family Ticket price as I believe this is great value for all that the castle and grounds have to offer.