Sudeley Castle is famous as being the home to Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife and the only one to survive him. It is also the place where Lady Jane Grey, Katherine’s ward and Queen herself for only 9 days before her execution at the Tower of London, resided for some time. Lady Jane is probably my favourite historical figure, someone I’ve been fascinated by since a school trip to Bradgate Park, Lady Jane’s supposed birthplace, so I was very interested to walk the same hallways she did.
Katherine Parr and Lady Jane aren’t the only royal connections at Sudeley though; Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I have all been to the castle, and there is a display of replica Tudor costumes from the Six Wives of Henry VIII TV show presented by the historian David Starkey which I really liked.
After the end of the Civil War it was derelict for nearly 200 years until 1837 when brothers John and William Dent began to restore it to its former glory. It is now the home of Elizabeth, Lady Ashcombe and her family, who still live in the castle; as part of the self-guided tour around the building you can actually see some of the rooms still being used by them.
There were a number of exhibitions that I enjoyed, one of which was the exhibit of copies of books written by Katherine Parr. She was the first queen to have her work published; this book, Prayers or Meditations, was first published in 1545 with a further 19 editions to follow, such was its popularity. The edition shown below was published in 1546 and bound in red silk.
Other interesting items on display include this waistcoat, which is said to have belonged to Charles I
and this lovely lace canopy from the 16th century which is said to have been made by Anne Boleyn for the christening of the future Elizabeth I.
The bedrooms were also beautifully designed; the hangings and bedcover here had been hand-made for Marie Antoinette.
And this impressive structure is the Queen’s privy, made with a crimson velvet canopy, cushions covered in cloth of gold and a seat of crimson velvet. Quite a contraption!
The gardens were also extensive and lovely to walk around on a hot summer day; they included a herb garden with six different garden beds which focused on different aspects of herb use, such as medicines from the Tudor period, poisonous plants and calming herbs.
There is also a beautiful knot garden, a popular Elizabethan feature; the design here is based on the pattern of a dress worn by Elizabeth I.
Altogether a really fascinating place to visit. You can find many more photos of the castle here.