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.
The castle, just outside Winchcombe, 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 which 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 Emma’s dedication are so 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.
It is one of the few castles left in England that is still a residence and because of this, the castle is only open to visitors on specific dates. Visitors to Sudeley can view many fascinating treasures from Roman times to the present day and a number of fascinating exhibitions are open daily, illustrating the history of the castle and its owners.
There are nine magnificent gardens which sweep around the castle and grounds, each with a unique style and design.
Sudeley's café 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.