Sudeley Castle

Sudeley Castle, Gloucester


Winchcombe, Cheltenham


Castle Street, Off B4632


GL54 5JD

Sudeley Castle is located in a valley which has been inhabited since the Stone age, later by Celts, Roman legionaires and Saxon tribesmen. The ancient manor and later castle have a rich history involving Kings and Queens throughout the ages who have owned, visited and lived in its grounds.

Today the castle is a magnificent part-ruin set within beautiful grounds that provide a fabulous place to explore.

~ History ~

978 ~ The twelve year old Æthelred II, laterly known as the Unready, inherits the throne of England following the assassination of his half brother, Edward the Martyr. The ancient royal seat of Sudeley becomes the property of Æthelred.

980's ~ Large scale Danish raids on English territory begin once more.

991 ~ Following the Battle of Maldon, Æthelred is forced to pay tribute, or Danegeld, to the Danish king.

1002 ~ Æthelred's frustrations over the Danish hold over his kingdom snaps and he orders the massacre of all Danish settlers within England.

1013 ~ King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark invades England to avenge the massacre of his people. As a result Æthelred flees to Normandy, handing Sudeley over to his daughter, princess Goda before he leaves. Sweyn is proclaimed King.

1014 ~ Following the death of Sweyn Forkbeard, his son Cnut is proclaimed King. However, Æthelred returns to England and launches a surprise attack defeating the Vikings and forcing Cnut to flee England. He then embarks on a campaign to murder all the nobles who had proclaimed Cnut as King.

1015 ~ Cnut launches a fresh invasion of England. Æthelred's son Edmund raises an army. However, many of the nobles, such as the Mercians join and support Cnut.

1016 ~ The army assembled by Edmund disperses when Æthelred fails to appear to lead it, dying shortly afterwards.

Edmund, known as Ironside, is proclaimed King. He then mounts a last-ditch effort to revive the defence of England. He raises the siege of London defeating the Danes, and embarks on repeated successful battles, pursuing Cnut into Kent.

A final  decisive Battle of Assandun see's many of Edmund's nobles flee the battlefield, resulting in Edmund's defeat. The two kings negotiate a peace dividing the country between them. Edmund receives Wessex while Cnut takes Mercia and Northumberland.

However, later the same year Edmund is murdered with multiple stab wounds whilst on a privy tending to a call of nature.

Cnut is proclaimed King of all of England and orders the murder of any Anglo-Saxon noble who had supported Edmund.

Princess Goda not only survives, but also manages to retain Sudeley. Two years later Cnut adds the crown of Denmark to his kingdom. Later still for a time he gains control over much of Norway and Sweden.

1066 ~ Following the fall of the Anglo-Saxon royal house to William the Conqueror, all the lands held by the Anglo-Saxon nobles are redistributed to loyal Norman lords,and those Anglo-Saxon nobles who swear feilty to their new Norman King. The Anglo-Saxon noble who holds the royal manor of Sudeley, Earl Harold de Sudeley, manages to retain his estates by marrying one of William the Conqueror's great-nieces. He ishowever stripped of his earldom.

1139 ~ During the reign of King Stephen the Sudeley manor house is fortified. John de Sudeley revolts against King Stephen and joins Henry I's daughter Matilda in her attempt to gain the English crown.

King Stephen seizes and garrisons Sudeley Castle.

1170 ~ Ralph de Sudeley's brother Williamis one of the four knights who murder Thomas a Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.

1367 ~ John 9th Lord de Sudeley is killed in Spain whilst fighting for the Black Prince having earlier been Lord Chamberlain to King Edward II.

1440 ~ Ralph of Sudeley, Military commander and Member of the King’s Household under both King Henry V and King Henry VI, is made a Knight of the Garter and created Baron Sudeley by King Henry VI.

1442 ~ Ralph builds Sudeley Castle using his spoils from the Hundred Years War with France. He is later appointed Treasurer of the Exchequer and High Treasurer of England.

1469 ~ During The Wars of the Roses, upon King Edward IV's accession to the throne, the Lancastrian Ralph is forced to sell Sudeley Castle to the King, who grants it to his brother,  Richard Duke of Gloucester.

1478 ~ Richard Duke of Gloucester exchanges Sudeley for Richmond Castle in Yorkshire, Sudeley remains Royal property.

1483 ~ Richard accedes to the throne as King Richard III and becames the owner of Sudeley Castle for the second time. During his ownership the magnificent Banqueting Hall are built.

1485 ~ King Richard III is defeated and killed in the Battle of Bosworth, bringing to an end the Wars of the Roses and the House of York.

1486 ~ King Henry VII, the new monarch grants Sudeley Castle to his uncle and staunch supporter, Jasper Tudor.

1495 ~ Upon the death of Jasper Tudor, having no children to inherit his estates, Sudeley Castle reverts to the Crown.

1535 ~ King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn visit the castle.

1547 ~ Following the death of King Henry VIII, his son, King Edward VI, grants Sudeley Castle to his Uncle, Sir Thomas Seymour, appointing him Lord of Sudeley and later Lord High Admiral of England.

Seymour marries King Henry VIII’s sixth wife and widow, Katherine Parr, continuing a relationship which began before her marriage to the King.

1548 ~ Seymour and Katherine move to Sudeley Castle which Seymour has refurbished to accommodate his new bride. They are accompanied by Lady Jane Grey.

The 36 year old Katherine Parr gives birth to a daughter, Mary, only to die soon after of puerperal fever. She is buried in the Chapel of St Mary at Sudeley with Lady Jane Grey officiating as Chief Mourner.

1549 ~ Seymour is executed after being indicted on 33 counts of ‘Treason and other Misdemeanours against’ King and Crown. They include his courtship of the Princess Elizabeth who on hearing of his execution commented “This day died a man with much wit and very little judgement.” The young Lady Mary Seymour, the child of this short-lived marriage, does not receive her rightful inheritance of Sudeley Castle.

1554 ~ Queen Mary I grants Sudeley Castle  to Sir John Brydges, who as Lieutenant of the Tower of London, had attended Lady Jane Grey on the scaffold. He is created Baron Chandos of Sudeley.

1572 ~ Edmund 2nd Lord Chandos carries out extensive alterations and additions to Sudeley Castle.

1592 ~ Queen Elizabeth I visits Sudeley Castle for the third time staying there with the 3rd Lord Chandos during her summer progress to celebrate the anniversary of the defeat of the Armada.

1642 ~ King Charles I raises his standard at Nottingham and at Sudeley Castle. George 6th Lord Chandos declares his support for the King, arming his tenants and servants. Sudeley Castle is placed under the command of his brother. He marches to join King Charles at Shrewsbury with 1,000 men and £500 worth of gold plate.

1643 ~ In the absence of Lord Chandos Sudeley Castle is surrendered after a three day siege to Colonel Massey and his Parliamentary troops.

Two days later King Charles’s nephew, Prince Rupert of the Rhine, encamps with 4,000 men near Sudeley. From here he attacks and captures Cirencester, forcing the Parliamentarian troops to abandon Sudeley, but not before they had desecrated the Chapel of St Mary, turning the tower into stabling and the chancel into a slaughter-house.

Sudeley Castle is re-garrisoned by Lord Chandos. After the Royalist defeat at Gloucester, King Charles makes it his headquarters.

1644 ~ Sudeley Castle is again attacked by the Parliamentarians, under the command of Sir William Waller, and after suffering a severe bombardment, is surrendered by Sir William Morton, governor of the castle.

1649 ~ After Sudeley Castle has been garrisoned by Parliamentary Troops for nearly five years, orders are given that the castle be ‘slighted’ or rendered untenable as a military post. Lord Chandos is allowed £1,000 compensation for the destruction of his castle. He never returns and the title and estates pass to the Pitt family of Stratfield Saye.

1655 ~ The ruins of Sudeley Castle lay neglected and left to the ravages of the weather, its stones plundered by local builders.

1788 ~ King George III during his stay in Cheltenham visits Sudeley Castle tripping and falling down the staircase of the Octagon Tower, only saved from a serious injury by Mrs Cox the housekeeper who broke his fall.

1810 ~ Lord Rivers of Stratfield Saye sells the castle to the Marquis of Buckingham, afterwards Duke of Buckingham and Chandos.