During its thousand-year history, this magnificent castle has welcomed many a monarch, including Richard III, Henry VIII and Charles I. Half a mile southeast of Winchcombe, it’s most famous as the home and final resting place of Catherine Parr (Henry VIII’s widow), who lived here with her fourth husband, Thomas Seymour. In fact it’s the only private house in England where a queen is buried – Catherine lies in its Perpendicular Gothic St Mary’s Church. It also boasts 10 splendid gardens.
Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn visited Sudeley together in 1535. Anne’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth – later to become Elizabeth I – was part of the household until Seymour’s inappropriate displays of affection towards her prompted Catherine to send her away. Lady Jane Grey (the ill-fated ‘Nine Days Queen’) also lived here with the Seymours, and was the chief mourner at Catherine’s funeral (1548).
Inside the house, which is still a family home, self-guided tours lead through exhibitions on its history, and some of its private apartments. The 10 separate gardens in the gorgeous surrounding grounds include spectacular avenues of sculpted yews, an intricate knot garden (inspired by the pattern of one of Elizabeth I’s gowns) and aviaries containing superbly colourful pheasants. Four English queens – Anne Boleyn, Catherine Parr, Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I – have strolled through the rose-filled Queens’ Garden.