Winchcombe’s main attraction, this magnificent castle has welcomed many a monarch over its thousand-year history, including Richard III, Henry VIII and Charles I. 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. You’ll find Catherine’s tomb in the castle’s Perpendicular Gothic St Mary’s Church, making this the only private house in England where a queen is buried. There are also 10 splendid gardens here.
Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn visited Sudeley together in 1535. Princess Elizabeth (before becoming Elizabeth I) was part of the household until Seymour’s inappropriate displays of affection towards her prompted Catherine to banish her from the premises. Lady Jane Grey (the ill-fated ‘Nine Days Queen’) was also sent here to live with the Seymours, and was the chief mourner at Catherine’s funeral (1548).
The house is still a family home and some of the interior may be off-limits to visitors, but you can get a good sense of its grand proportions while visiting the exhibitions of costumes, memorabilia and paintings, and the gorgeous surrounding grounds. The gardens include spectacular avenues of sculpted yews, an intricate knot garden (inspired by the pattern of one of Elizabeth I’s gowns) and aviaries containing magnificently coloured pheasants. The rose-filled Queen’s Garden, based on its original Tudor parterre, gets its name from having been strolled in by four English queens (Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I).