Tag: Cotswolds

Days out: Sudeley Castle

I hadn’t even heard of Sudeley Castle until we started researching places to go for our first day out in Bodhi Bongo. We wanted somewhere not too far. A place that my Mother in Law would also enjoy. Somewhere we could have a wander round before making tea and cooking bacon sandwiches in the campervan.

Remembering my Gardeners World 2-4-1 card which I hadn’t yet used this year (last year we visited Wollerton Hall gardens using the card) I came across Sudeley; just over an hour drive away in the Cotswold village of Winchcombe, with lots of associated Tudor history. It looked perfect for our inaugural voyage!

What a place!

Entry to the castle is down a long winding driveway to the main car park. From here the castle isn’t visible; enter through the gift shop then take the wild winding path down to the ruins of the old 15th century banqueting hall. You could be forgiven for thinking you’ve wandered off the beaten path; it’s very informal – almost like you’re trespassing!

A cross between a museum and a stately home

Sudeley charts some of it’s 1000 year history through exhibitions, short films and original artefacts, while also opening a handful of rooms lived in by the owners when they’re in residence.

Elizabeth I’s christening gown hangs in one of the exhibition rooms, as does a waistcoat belonging to Charles I (he took refuge in the castle during the civil war).

In another room is an ornately carved wooden bed, adorned with bed covers made for and slept in by Marie Antoinette.

The artefacts and storyline of the history of the castle, like everything, is wonderfully done but largely informal; making it a pleasure to just wander and soak in everything this gem has to offer.

Sudeley is also famed for being  the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within the grounds. The tomb of Katherine Parr – final and surviving wife of Henry VIII – is situated in St Mary’s Church within the castle grounds. This was not her original burial place; her body was discovered some 200 years after her death and reinterred within the church in the late 1700s.

The whole of the castle is surrounded by beautifully tended gardens, including the Elizabethan Knot garden. The Secret Garden is accessed through an archway in a hedge to the side of St Mary’s Church. Being October the gardens obviously weren’t in full flower, but still very lovely to wander around.

Wander at will

One of the things we found very surprising, and refreshing, about Sudeley Castle and the grounds was the feeling of openness. There were no designated paths to follow. No arrows telling you in which direction to walk around the building or, signs telling you to keep off the grass. It felt like everywhere was accessible and welcoming; like the owners really want visitors to be there, to immerse themselves, and to enjoy Sudeley in their own way.

Sudeley Castle is a truly wonderful place; beautiful, well looked after, true to its history, educational, informative and a joy to visit. Do go there if you can!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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Hotel Review – Cotswold88, Painswick

Sometimes just being away overnight, like we did this weekend, is all it takes to feel like you’ve had a good break. A change of scenery, travelling somewhere, seeing new places – it can make a normal weekend feel like a mini holiday.

It’s also really easy to pack for!

Earlier this year we did just that and went off to the Cotswolds. I had received an overnight stay and dinner as one of my Christmas gifts from ‘im indoors (running out of ways to describe Mr Me on here – maybe I should just stop talking about him) which I was free to book at my leisure. After a whole 4 weeks back at work in the New Year, I was more than ready to get away.

Cotswold88 hotel is stunning. It’s part of the Mr & Mrs Smith hotel collection.

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Painswick – the small village in which it is located – is equally stunning. Dating back to the 11th Century, the village is mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Even on a cold January afternoon, with overcast skies and a howling wind, it was a pleasure to be there.

We arrived at the hotel before the advertised check in time and were invited to leave our bags at reception and either explore the village or make ourselves comfortable in one of the hotel lounges. We headed out to a local pub for some lunch and a mooch around the village.

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Everything is built in Cotswold stone.

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Wanting to make the most of the hotel and it’s sumptuous surroundings, we headed back at around 3pm.

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There are quirky touches around every corner.

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Each of the public rooms is decorated individually.

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A large glass of wine in front of the roaring fire soon brushed off the cold walk around the village.

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I loved these light fittings in the bar.

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The staff were incredibly helpful and friendly; I’d expected an element of stuffiness as can often be the case in boutique hotels but that wasn’t the case at all. We were immediately put at ease on arrival and remained entirely relaxed throughout our stay.

Dinner was delicious. I can’t remember the detail so have just checked the website, only to find that the hotel has been sold! It’s currently undergoing total refurbishment and will be closed until Christmas. It will be interesting to see what happens. The new name is “The Painswick“, which it used to be previously. I got the feeling from some of the locals that the extravagant décor was not to their taste, so maybe it’s going back to the traditional look. It was certainly anything but during our stay!

On Sunday morning we had a look around the churchyard – a grade 1 listed building. There are some very old tombs and monuments, and a plethora of yew trees.

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Would I go back? Not to Cotswold88, obvs, as it doesn’t exist anymore! That’s really surprised me, but also disappointed me as we’d hoped to go back in the summer. But Painswick is definitely worth a visit; even if just part of a short stop on a mini tour around the beautiful Cotswolds villages in the area.

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