Sudeley Castle Gardens

The gardens at sudeley conjure up thoughts of a hystorical tryst

I have just counted up and realise that this is the 12th Castle Connections piece I have written for Cotswold Life, having submitted the first for last September's issue.


'Well, how is it going' I ask myself?' Over the past months I have received several encouraging comments, and recently when I attended a science lecture in Cheltenham, THREE people came up to me to say they were enjoying the column. Now three isn't exactly a standing ovation and certainly not enough to develop a swollen head about, but it is very nice and helpful to have feedback, whether positive or negative.


My hope is that readers will find something interesting in the current everyday activities of the Castle interwoven with its fascinating and sometimes haunting historic past. There is also our family life at the Castle, which is unique only to the extent that we carry it out in the midst of the above, which occasionally throws up some curious and challenging situations.


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I have been enjoying the current ITV3 Henry VIII series and last night's episode recreated Henry's cruel and cataclysmic divorce from Catherine of Aragon, his passionate and tumultuous affair with Anne Boleyn and her subsequent beheading on trumped up charges of adultery and incest; all because of Henry's desperate need for a legitimate male heir to secure the Tudor dynasty's succession to the throne. Sadly neither of those unlucky ladies was able to deliver an offspring of the desired gender to satisfy the King's desire. Ironically Elizabeth, his daughter with Anne became the greatest Tudor sovereign of them all.


Next year is the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession to the throne and all over England museums, monuments and houses with Tudor connections are coming up with original ways to celebrate this momentous occasion. Although Sudeley's Tudor associations are strongest with Katherine Parr, Henry, who then owned the Castle, visited it in July 1535 with Queen Anne Boleyn. Legend has it that they strolled romantically through the rose garden and planted a Rosa Mundi to commemorate their visit. Recently discovered among the our archives are copies from the Public Accounts book of the time which record his entourage's daily housekeeping bills when at Sudeley and I may enjoy writing about this on another occasion.


Earlier today I went to the rose garden, now recreated on the original Tudor parterre, and was having a few enjoyable private moments imagining Henry and Anne, very much looking like Ray Winstone and Helena Bonham Carter from the night before, tumbling from the yew hedges, laughing, holding hands, he plucking a scented rose to hand to... etc. etc., when a lady visitor jolted me back from my reverie to ask if I was the owner of the Castle.


"I'd love to ask you a question," she enthused, and I, hoping that it wasn't the name of some unusual plant or other tricky fact that should be known by the owner, tried to look alert.


"It must be wonderful living in a place where such exciting and romantic things happen" or words to that effect, she waxed on excitedly. I thought how extraordinary, I was just thinking the same thing myself and was about to open up a discussion with some keenness on lovers such as Henry and Anne, or Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour, or walking in the same steps as history's great and good and so on, when she beat me to the point by asking, 'What was Liz Hurley's wedding like, had I met her, and what about her dress'?. Well, umm... somewhat deflated and brought down to earth, what could I say but that it was all marvellous and the bride was beautiful, and make a hasty excuse to retreat from the scene.


What will fascinate people 500 years from now? Will the old stones of Sudeley still be standing and might they host some intergalactic celebrity of their day?


Any views from readers will be welcome.

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