21. Sudeley Castle & Gardens, Winchcombe

Set against the backdrop of the Cotswold Hills, Sudeley Castle is steeped in history, with royal connections spanning 1,000 years.

Just outside Winchcombe, the castle was once home to Queen Katherine Parr – the last and surviving wife of King Henry VIII – who lies entombed in St Mary’s Church in the castle grounds.

King Charles I found refuge here during the English Civil War when his nephew Prince Rupert established headquarters at Sudeley Castle.

Following its ‘slighting’ on Oliver Cromwell’s orders at the end of the Civil War, Sudeley lay neglected and derelict for nearly 200 years.

In 1837, Sudeley was rescued by the wealthy Worcester glove-makers, brothers John and William Dent, who began an ambitious restoration programme that was continued by their nephew, John Coucher Dent, when he inherited the castle in 1855.

His wife, Emma Brocklehurst, threw herself enthusiastically into Sudeley’s restoration, and the results of her dedication are evident in the gardens and exhibitions at Sudeley today.

Sudeley is now the home of American-born Lady Ashcombe and the Dent-Brocklehursts and, in recent decades, has become a popular tourist attraction and wedding venue.

As one of the few castles in England that still serves as a residence, Sudeley Castle offers a unique and exclusive experience. It is only open to visitors on specific dates, adding to the sense of privilege and specialness. During your visit, you can explore a wealth of fascinating treasures from Roman times to the present day. A variety of captivating exhibitions, open daily, vividly illustrate the castle’s rich history and the lives of its owners.

Surrounding the castle and its grounds are nine magnificent gardens, each boasting a unique style and design. From the tranquil White Garden to the vibrant Knot Garden, these meticulously crafted outdoor spaces offer a feast for the senses and a journey through different eras of garden design.

Sudeley’s cafĂ© is situated within the castle’s banqueting hall, and the visitor and plant centre stocks an enticing collection of vintage items, gifts, plants, and locally sourced products.