Sudeley was first recorded as a manor that was given by King Ethelred 'The Unready' to his daughter as a wedding present in the 10th century. Of course, there is nothing left of this original Saxon house. The stone castle was mainly built in 1441 by Ralph Boteler. It was passed around for a while until Edward VI gave it to his uncle Thomas Seymour. He made some additions to the castle, but only one room of the whole suite he had constructed remains. It was here that the widow of Henry VIII, Queen Katherine Parr, died after giving birth to a daughter by Seymour, her fourth husband. She is buried in St. Mary's Church on the castle grounds. [photos of St. Mary's Church and the tomb of Katherine Parr]

The main house

Sudeley played a large role in the English Civil War on the side of the Royalist, so it's not too surprising that when Cromwell won his battle against the king's supporters, he ordered the castle destroyed. Part of the castle is still in ruins from this time (1649).

Tithe Barn ruins and pond

In 1810, the castle was bought by the Marquess of Buckingham, and 27 years later it passed into the hands of John and William Dent who began the rebuilding of the castle.

It then passed to their nephew John and his wife Emma, who is primarily responsible for continuing the restoration. She also published the three volume book "The Annals of Winchcombe and Sudeley", a history of the castle and region.

In the 20th century, the depression and two world wars took it's toll on the castle and it's owners, not to mention dry rot, damp and woodworm, and it was on the verge of becoming ruins again. They began a renovation to make it available to visitors. When the owner died suddenly in 1972, his wife was left with the castle and two young children. When she remarried, to Lord Ashcombe, they began another renovation in the early 80's and have maintained the castle and beautiful gardens.

Part of the fine gardens at Sudeley


See also: The Tomb of Katherine Parr and the St. Mary's Church


Sudeley and gardens from the air ©1994 Sudeley Castle, all other photos © Lara E. Eakins

England and Wales 1998
Photography and Travel