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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Glorious Sudeley

This month's header picture shows the glorious autumn colour of the Long Border at Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire. Sudeley is best known for its associations with Queen Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII who survived him to marry her former sweetheart, Thomas Seymour, and come to live at Sudeley. Sadly, Katherine died there shortly after giving birth to their only daughter, Mary, whose fate is unknown.
The Tomb of Queen Katherine
After a golden period in the Tudor era, with a notable visit from Elizabeth I and her vast retinue that almost bankrupted the family, Sudeley fell to the Roundheads in the English Civil War. The castle was 'slighted' meaning that its roof was removed and it was made indefensible. Two centuries of decline followed as weather and the depredations of local builders looking for materials did their worst.
Stained glass panel at Sudeley showing Queen Elizabeth I in the Armada dress
Parts of the castle are still ruined.
In its ruined state, however, the castle appealed to the 18th century passion for the picturesque and was visited by parties of sightseers. It was in 1782 that one such party of ladies noticed an alabaster slab on the wall of the ruined chapel. They found local men to dig against the wall and a lead coffin was revealed - the coffin of Katherine Parr. The coffin was opened and the Queen's remains, wrapped in linen, were found to be remarkably well preserved but, sadly, with exposure to air they started to deteriorate. By the time they were removed to their present resting place in Sudeley's Victorian chapel, all that remained was a handful of dust.