When, after crossing the beautiful village of Winchombe and walking three hundred yards by a nice trail in the English countryside, you arrive to Sudeley Castle, you cannot imagine the tragic destiny that throughout the centuries the different owners of this castle suffered.
In the place where Sudeley Castle stands, the Abbey of Winchombe was built in the 8th century, abandoned after the Reformation of Henry VIII. Just a few of the walls and stones remain today.
Sudeley Castle was built in the 15th century by Ralph Boteler, after being granted as Royal Exchequer in 1443. But the England of the 15th century was a dangerous place to live, especially when the dynastic conflict known as the Wars of the Roses began. Ralph Boteler, unluckily for him, chose the wrong side in the war, the one of the house Lancaster.
Even so, when Edward IV of York successfully ended the war, Boteler was more fortunate than a lot of other Lancastrians and his life was spared. Nevertheless, he was forced to give in to the King the castle that cost him so many effort and money. Edward gave the castle as a present to his main ally during the war, his own brother, the Duke of Gloucester.
And what happened to the new owner? It is possible that you are not familiar with the title of Duke of Gloucester. But if I tell you that when Edward IV died in 1483, this man succeeded him to the throne by the name of Richard III, then you know him better for sure.
Richard III occupied Sudeley Castle and made several improvements in Boteler’s original project.
But the reign of Richard III, casted in shadows by affairs like the one regarding the misterious destiny of his nephews the Princes of the Tower, was doomed to end abruptly and violently only two years later, when he was beaten and killed by Henry Tudor’s army in the battle of Bosworth.
After Richard’s death, Sudeley Castle was owned by the Kings of the Tudor dynasty, until the son of Henry VIII, Edward VI, handed the castle over to a peculiar character.
It is well known that Henry VIII married six times; his third wife was Jane Seymour, the mother of Edward VI, and Edward VI delivered Sudeley Castle to his mother’s brother, Thomas Seymour.
To make the situation more complex, Thomas Seymour had married the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII, Katherine Parr, with whom he came to live at Sudeley Castle. But Katherine died while giving birth to their daughter, this daughter also died just two years later, and Thomas Seymour was founded guilty of treason and executed.
Katherine Parr is buried in the intimate and nice in its simplicity St. Mary’s Church in Sudeley Castle.
But the disgraces of Sudeley’s owners were not over. Queen Mary Tudor handed the castle over to Sir John Brydges. The situation in Sudeley stayed quiet until the civil war in the 17th century that confronted King Charles I and the Parliament. Sudeley was located in a strategic place between one army and the other, and the descendant of Sir John Brydges allied himself with the royal party. Again the owner of Sudeley Castle was in the losing side of a conflict, and when the war was over, a war counsel of Oliver Cromwell’s forces ordered the castle to be blown up.
Finally, in the 19th century, a new building was erected in Sudeley. It now belongs to Lord and Lady Ashcombe and inside it there is a museum where you can see some rooms dedicated to the different owners of Sudeley Castle.