Sudeley Castle

The Loveliest Castle in England?

Chapter 4 : Wars of the Roses

The original Saxon holding of Sudeleagh was given to his daughter, Godgifu, by King Aethelred the Unready in the tenth century on her marriage to Dreux, Count of Mantes. Her grandson, one Harold de Sudeley, owned the estate at the time of the conquest and unusually did not have his land confiscated.

The de Sudeleys quickly married into the Norman incoming families and served the Crown until John de Sudeley chose to support the Empress Matilda against King Stephen. He was punished by the destruction of the castle. The castle was eventually rebuilt, and the de Sudeley’s continued in residence until the mid-fifteenth century when the estate passed to a nephew of the last de Sudeley.

The new owner, Ralph de Boteler, was high in the favour of the Lancastrian King Henry VI and spent the fortune he had made in the French wars on creating an up to date castle and manor at Sudeley.

Remains of building work undertaken at Sudeley Castle by Richard, Duke of Gloucester

Traces of his occupation remain in the ruined Tithe Barn and the Church of St Mary. Unfortunately, when Henry VI was defeated at Towton, de Boteler was obliged to sell Sudeley to the new, Yorkist King, Edward IV.

Edward gave the castle to his younger brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester who spent considerable sums on building a new east range, including a Presence Chamber. The remains of Richard’s works are still visible, the delicate tracery of the gothic windows as elegant now as it was in the 1470s.

However, Richard’s lands were concentrated in the North, and he exchanged Sudeley with the King for the castle of Richmond, Yorkshire. Thus Sudeley became a Crown property.