Visitors to Sudeley Castle, just outside the village of Winchcombe, can step back in time to an era of powerful Kings and Queens who wined and dined within the castle walls. The castle was first built in 1442 by Baron Sudeley. It was later taken by Edward IV and remained royal property for a number of years. Richard III used the castle as a battleground base and Henry VIII and Elizabeth I used it as a place of entertainment. Catherine Parr, widow to Henry VIII remarried, gave birth and also died at Sudeley Castle and her tomb can still be seen in the castle church.
The castle is owned and lived in by Lady Ashcombe and her two children and many of the castle’s private rooms have recently been opened up to members of the public. Visitors can follow the “20 Treasures of Sudeley” trail around the castle and see items such as Catherine Parr’s love letters, Charles I’s beer jug and the 16th century Sheldon Tapestry. There is a large Medieval banqueting hall and exhibitions on early Roman sites in the area, as well as videos narrated by notable historian, David Starkey.
Outside, Sudeley Castle has extensive ornamental gardens, maintained by a team of gardeners with the emphasis on creating a wildlife friendly habitat. The area has been divided into smaller gardens, each with a unique style or theme. Visit the Herb Garden Walk to breathe in the aromas of calming and medicinal plants, or the White Garden with all white flowers, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. There are 10 gardens in total and visitors can expect to spend several hours exploring them all.
Attractions at Sudeley Castle
Sudeley Castle has several other attractions for visitors, including:
- The Sudeley Pheasantry – Home to a collection of rare breed pheasants and owls
- St Mary’s Church – restored during the 19th century and the final resting place for Catherine Parr
- Adventure Playground –A playground with a large wooden climbing structure, allowing children to burn off some energy, whilst parents can watch from nearby picnic benches; Suitable for children over the age of 5
- Visitor Centre and Shop – A large gift shop selling books and memorabilia, as well as plants and vintage items, such as china and furniture; Refreshments are also sold here
- The Terrace Café – Located within the castle’s Banqueting Hall, this café serves up locally sourced produce and delightful Afternoon Teas
Sudeley Castle is located just outside of the village of Winchcombe, North East of Cheltenham. The main entrance is on Rushley Lane, which can be accessed from the high street in Winchcombe. Parking is available.
A regular bus service operates between Cheltenham and Winchcombe, and whilst the nearest mainland rail station is in Cheltenham, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway does operate a service between Cheltenham Racecourse and Winchcombe for a more fun, alternative arrival.
Opening Times and Cost
The castle and gardens are open daily between March and November from 10am until 5pm with the last admission at 4pm. Tickets are £14 for adults, £13 for concessions, £5 for children aged 5-15 years and free for children under 5. A family ticket for two adults and up to three children costs £35. Discounts are available for members of the English Heritage and for larger groups.