Sudeley Castle


Sudeley Hill, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire GL54 5JD


Open Year Round


Grade I


Historic Houses


In the mid fifteenth century, Ralph de Botoler, made a Knight of the Garter and created Baron Sudeley by the Lancastrian King Henry VI, used the fortune he accumulated during service in the Hundred Years War to build Sudeley Castle on its current site.  Surrounded by a moat, the castle was a large, double courtyard building with the state and private apartments around the inner courtyard. The Chapel and Tithe Barn were also built at this time, the former now the recreated Victorian St Mary’s Church and the latter a substantial ruin that forms the foundation of a wonderful, romantic garden.


Sudeley came into Crown ownership in 1469, when the successful Yorkist King Edward IV required the Lancastrian Ralph de Botoler to sell the castle to him. Edward granted Sudeley to his brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who held it for nine years, before exchanging it for Richmond Castle in Yorkshire in 1478. In 1485, following his victory at the Battle of Bosworth, the new King Henry VII granted Sudeley to his loyal uncle, Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford.  Jasper and his wife, Katherine Woodville, Dowager Duchess of Buckingham, spent much of their time at Sudeley or nearby Thornbury Castle, one of Katherine’s dower castles.


Considerable sums of money were spent in the late fifteenth century to replace Botoler’s east range with a magnificent set of apartments and state rooms, and later, a banqueting hall, with its wonderful oriel window, all of which are now an extensive, and picturesque, ruin.  Richard, Duke of Gloucester is usually considered to be responsible for this work, but evidence is limited and there is an alternative view, that Jasper Tudor commissioned the re-building of the east range.



Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn lodged at Sudeley for a week during their long summer progress of 1535. It was during this stop on the progress that Thomas Cromwell, lodged with the remainder of the court at neighbouring Winchcombe Abbey, and in consultation with Henry, began the process of what became the Dissolution of the Monasteries.


After Henry VIII’s death in 1547, the boy king Edward VI granted the castle and its lands to his uncle, Sir Thomas Seymour, Baron Sudeley, who refurbished it for his new bride, Dowager Queen Katherine Parr. Seymour and his pregnant wife came to Sudeley in 1548, accompanied by his ward, Lady Jane Grey, and the cleric, Miles Coverdale. Sadly, Katherine died here, following the birth of her only child, Mary Seymour. She was interred in the castle’s Chapel, now St Mary’s Church, with Lady Jane Grey officiating as Chief Mourner.  Katherine remains there still, the only English queen to be buried on private property, and her tomb can be seen as part of a visit to the castle.



In 1554, Mary I granted Sudeley and its lands to Sir John Brydges (Lieutenant of the Tower when Lady Jane Grey was imprisoned and executed there) and made him Baron Chandos of Sudeley. The Chandos family hosted Elizabeth I on the three visits she made to Sudeley and the 3rd Lord Chandos was almost bankrupted by the lavish celebrations arranged for her three-day visit in 1592 to celebrate the English victory over the Spanish Armada.


A series of archaeological digs, undertaken by DigVentures between 2018 and 2023, found evidence on a site to the east of the castle, of an early Tudor formal garden that was in existence before the Dissolution of the Monasteries. This garden was subsequently redesigned and expanded, to incorporate raised walks, ponds, channels and other water features, and these works are now thought to be commissioned by Thomas Seymour for his royal bride in the late 1540s.



Today, within the castle, a range of rooms are open to the public, with a series of exhibitions telling the story of Sudeley and its inhabitants. Hand-written books and letters of Katherine Parr’s are on display, along with replica Tudor costumes.