The Cotswolds is one of the largest Areas of Natural Beauty in the UK, covering more than six counties. Throughout the rolling hills, you’ll find quaint villages, churches, and country pubs, where you can stop off for a hearty lunch and a pint (if you’re not driving).
A wealthy area since the Medieval wool trade, one of its main economies is now tourism. There are a number of long-distance hiking trails on which you can cycle or ride a horse. On said trails, you’ll also come across several castles. In this post, we’ll take a look at five of the most interesting castles in the Cotswolds.
5 castles to visit in the Cotswolds
1. Sudeley Castle
Sudeley Castle and Gardens in Gloucestershire may have been built in the 15th century, but there’s evidence of a castle 300 years before that. It has an important place in British Royal history, being the only private castle to have a British Queen buried in the grounds.
Katherine Parr lived and died in this Tudor mansion and is the only of Henry VIII’s six wives to survive him. It was also a refuge for King Charles I during the Civil War before being left to ruin for almost 200 years.
Restored in the 19th century, nowadays, you can visit the castle and its ten surrounding gardens.
When: 15th century
Style: TudorStately Home
Open for Visit: Yes. 10:00 – 16:00. Closed in January
2. Blenheim Palace
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Blenheim Palace is as famous for its romantic landscaped gardens as much as the English Baroque country house.
It’s sometimes referred to as a ‘naturalistic Versailles,’ and the gardens were designed by famous landscape artist “Capability” Brown. Considered one of the greatest stately homes in Britain, it was given to John Churchill to show gratitude for defeating the French at the 1704 Battle of Blenheim. A certain Sir Winston Churchill was born here 170 years later…
When: 18th century
Style: English Baroque
Open for Visit: Yes. Grounds 09:00 – 18:00. Gardens 10:00 – 18:00. Castle and exhibitions mostly 10:30 – 17:30.
Check out: The best English Castles to visit
3. Broughton Castle
Another of the Cotswold’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, Broughton Castle is a medieval fortified manor house located on an artificial island in the middle of a moat. It’s also a Grade 2 listed building, with much of it being built in the 13th century before being enlarged in the second half of the 16th century.
The castle was besieged and captured in the English Civil War, and there is much regalia from the period on display in the castle’s Great Hall. While at Broughton Castle, you’re also able to visit the 14th-century church of St Mary that is located in the castle gardens.
When: 13th century
Open for Visit: Yes. 14:00 – 17:00 from Wednesday to Sunday, April to September.
4. Broadway tower
The Broadway Tower in Worcestershire is one of the best places to come for views of the picturesque Cotswolds; it’s the second-highest point in the region and the highest castle in the Cotswolds.
Its base is around 1,000 feet above sea level, and the castle is another 65 feet above that. On a clear day, you can get a view of 16 counties from atop its battlements – as well as several deer!
The tower is adorned with turrets, balconies, and gargoyles. Today, there are a number of exhibitions about its history. To learn about more recent history, there’s a Cold War nuclear bunker in the park around Broadway Tower too.
When: 18th century
Style: Gothic Revival
Open for Visit: Yes. Tower: 10:00 – 17:00. Nuclear Bunker: 10:00 – 16:30.
5. Berkeley Castle
This ancient fortress is one of the most remarkable castles in the Cotswolds, with the same family have lived here since the building was constructed in 1153! Its rich history includes having a Shakespeare play written for a Berkeley family wedding and being the supposed site of Edward II’s murder.
At present, visitors can see a fine art collection that spans from the 16th – 20th centuries, and visit a tropical butterfly house. The castle also hosts events throughout the year, including arts and crafts, falconry, and archery.
When: 12th century
Open for Visit: Yes. 10:30 – 17:00 Sunday to Wednesday from May to October.