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Originally built to celebrate victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession, this masterpiece of 18th-century baroque architecture is a must-visit Cotswolds destination. The incredible building has seen many historic moments over time, including the birth of Winston Churchill and is now home to the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. Now a prime tourist attraction, you can explore the Palace with dedicated tours, events and exhibitions. There’s over 2000 acres of Capability Brown-designed parkland to discover and you can even ride the miniature train to The Pleasure Gardens (a dedicated family area that offers a giant hedge maze, butterfly house and adventure playground).
Located near Winchcombe, Sudeley Castle’s rooms and exhibits are filled with fascinating treasures, from ancient Roman times through to the present day. Within the 1,200-acre estate and 10 award-winning gardens lies the aptly named ‘Queens Garden’, where four of England’s Queens – Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I – spent time. Visitors to the castle can even explore the 15th-century church where the last of Henry VIII’s wives, Katherine Parr, is buried.
Steeped in 900 years of history, Kenilworth Castle makes for a fun attraction for the whole family. Marvel at the Norman keep, explore the exhibition in the Gatehouse and scale the heights of the tower built to woo Queen Elizabeth I. There’s even a beautifully recreated Elizabethan Garden that you can wander through, while discovering such gems as the marble fountain, the ornate aviary and the Earl of Leicester’s emblem of the bear and ragged staff.
Once owned by Henry VIII, who spent time here on his honeymoon tour with Anne Boleyn, Thornbury Castle has passed the test of time and stood strong throughout many of history’s great events. Nestled in the leafy landscape of South Gloucestershire, today visitors can enjoy the castle as a luxurious hotel, staying overnight in plush four-poster beds and enjoying other period features such as open fireplaces, a dungeon dining room and a grand hall.
Built on stone columns with a stone flagged area beneath, this 17th-century market hall was part of the
prosperous wool trade of the time. Nowadays, the hall is still in use and holds a general market every Wednesday and a Women’s Institute market on Friday mornings.
Home to the Berkeley family for over 850 years, Berkeley Castle was originally one of the March Castles, built to keep out the Welsh and still holds on to the period’s characteristics such as trip steps designed to make the enemy stumble during an assault, arrow slits, murder holes, enormous barred doors and worn stones where sentries stood guard. These days, the castle has more of a fairytale vibe, with visitors coming from far and wide to see the beautiful 6,000 acres of land, complete with deer park, and the historic archives, dating back to 1154, which are still housed in the castle.