The history of Sudeley extends far beyond the castle gates, which is apparent upon a visit to the vibrant Cotswold town of Winchcombe. With its traditional honey-hued stone buildings and a unique range of attractions, shops and eateries, Winchcombe is the perfect base for anyone looking to explore the Cotswolds this summer.
1. A Chocolate Box Town
Winchcombe is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is the perfect base for a stroll along the River Isbourne or a cycle around the town’s impressive centuries-old architecture. While it may not be the largest town in the Cotswolds, Winchcombe has an abundance of eclectic shops, galleries, salons and tea rooms. What’s more, the wide range of timbered inns and independent restaurants in the town means that there is something to satisfy all appetites.
2. A Religious Pilgrimage
The 13th century ruins of Hailes Abbey lie just outside of Winchcombe, and were once the centre of monastic life. Built around 1245 by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, the site became a pilgrimage after Richard’s son, Edmund, donated a phial of the Holy Blood which he purchased in Germany in 1270. During a visit to Sudeley in 1535, Anne Boleyn made her own pilgrimage to Hailes Abbey to investigate the relic of the Crucifixion herself.
The abbey is now owned by the National Trust and is an idyllic spot to relax and enjoy a picnic with friends.
3. Fit for a Queen
Sudeley’s past is entwined with the town’s own rich history, and has remained a constant focal point in the area for hundreds of years. As the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within the grounds, it’s unsurprising many people flock to the town each year to learn more about the Tudor castle and the people who once lived there, and enjoy the 10 award-winning gardens.
4. Take a Hike
Winchcombe is a popular spot for accomplished ramblers and novice walkers alike, and prides itself on being a ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town. For many outdoor enthusiasts, Winchcombe Walking Festival – which takes place in May each year – is a particular draw. With diverse routes to suit all ages and abilities, Winchcombe offers a Roman villa, a Neolithic burial mound and a steam railway, all with impressive views of the Malvern Hills and Wales.
5. A Charming Cotswold Break
Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life by spending a few nights in the heart of the Cotswolds. Located just a stone’s throw from Sudeley Castle & Gardens are 16 unique holiday cottages. Each castle cottage has its own charm and character, and each is named after some of Sudeley’s most notable figures including, Lady Jane Grey, Oliver Cromwell and Emma Dent. What’s more, guests enjoy complimentary admission to Sudeley Castle & Gardens for the duration of their stay.
6. Join the Festivities
There is always something to do in Winchcombe, from a 1940s weekend to a festival of music and art – you’re sure to find something exciting on offer. The festival season starts in May but the highlight of the events calendar for many is Winchcombe Country Show, which takes place annually on the August bank holiday weekend. This year’s event is set to be a great family day out packed with entertainment, arts and crafts, stalls and much more.
7. A Lesson in Life
Take a step back in time and learn about the people behind the town at Winchcombe’s Folk and Police Museum. There are many stories to be heard, including a look at the impact the Dent family had on the people of Winchcombe, from the town’s perspective, and the history of St Peter’s Church – famed for the amusing gargoyles which cover the exterior of the building, and the altar frontal said to have been worked by Catherine of Aragon.