Sudeley Castle & Gardens.
Sudeley Castle & Gardens is the quintessential Englishman’s Castle and steeped in so much history you couldn’t make it up. It has seen virtually everything from war to romance and with a lot of Royal connections thrown into the mix.
Sudeley Castle is set in the rolling Cotswolds hills in an Area of Natural Beauty, close to the village of Winchcombe in Gloucestershire. During it’s long and colourful history Sudeley has been associated with Richard III, Henry VIII, Lady Jane Grey, Elizabeth I and Charles I. The castle was also the home and final resting place of Katherine Parr, surviving wife of the infamous Henry VIII. Known affectionately as The Lady in Green, her ghost still haunts Sudeley today.
There are many exhibitions on display at Sudeley Castle, most are notably from the Tudor period; which is hardly surprising given it’s previous occupants. They range from a representation head of Richard III to copies of rare books; the replica costumes from the period drama “The Six Wives of Henry VIII to a collection of textile treasures that span over 400 years of history at the Castle. One of the corsets had a lead lining with spikes and looked more like an instrument used for torture than a delicate under-garment!!
It was mainly the gardens I came to see and I wasn’t disappointed.
The gardens are beautifully laid out and very well cared for. Like a series of compartments, they appear to flow seamlessly from one to another via the connecting pathways.
As you leave the entrance and the Visitor Centre you are guided towards the old ruined shell of a 15th Century medieval Tithe Barn, complete with a well stocked Koi Pond.
A gravel pathway meanders round the edge of the visitor grounds, providing glimpses of the Castle through the trees and over the hedges, leading to the Castle Entrance.
At the foot of the Dungeon Tower is a rather impressive Mulberry tree that was planted in 1885.
From here the path takes you alongside the Castle walls to the Knot Garden.
The Knot Garden.
In terms of the age of Sudeley Castle, the Knot Garden is a mere 20 years old. It was created in 1995 and is hidden between the castle walls and the very tall yew hedges, like a small courtyard only it’s planted.
The intricate design is typical of the elaborate style of the Elizabethan era; it incorporates a Moorish fountain as the centrepiece.
You are then nudged towards the only remains of the Old Castle that was destroyed during the Civil War. The former Banqueting Hall and its massive Gothic windows provide a glimpse into the grounds beyond that have yet to be explored.
The Queen’s Garden.
The centrepiece is The Queens’ Garden. formal gardens surrounded by magnificent yew hedges. This was originally the site of the original Tudor parterre and has been redesigned and replanted and now contains more than 80 different varieties of roses – the flower typically associated with the Tudor dynasties.
The East Garden.
A small garden with a Cedar arbour.
St Mary’s Church.
Katherine Parr is the only Queen of England to be buried at a private residence; her tomb is located inside St Mary’s Church.
The White Garden.
The White Garden is exactly as it says – white. The garden surrounds St Mary’s Church, it’s colour symbolising the purity of the Virgin Mary. The bed on the south wall is planted with white roses, clematis and peonies.
The Secret Garden.
Located to the North of the Church the Secret Garden appears like magic through a gap in the yew hedge. It is long and gallery like and the wide borders are well stocked.
Home to a number of birds including, believe it or not, some pheasants and some owls.
Tudor Physic Garden & Herb Garden Walk
A typical Tudor house would not have been complete without a Physic garden to provide cooking and medicinal plants and herbs.
My husband was particularly interested in the toxic garden – I must keep an eye on him!!
The gardens of Sudeley Castle is one of those places you could stumble around finding one little treasure after another. There is an eclectic mix of design styles from the traditional Tudor style knot garden to the sweeping long border that epitomized the Arts and Crafts vernacular garden of the late 19th and early 20th century English garden. The planting has been carefully chosen to suit the period and style and it works a treat.
A wonderful place that I will certainly be visiting again.
All images taken on 22nd June 2015.