Thornbury Castle, once owned by Henry VIII, has stood firm through many of history’s most pivotal and dramatic events.
Today, its surroundings are a little more peaceful: nestled in the leafy landscape of South Gloucestershire, it offers a luxurious step back in time from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
An ancient manor
The earliest reference to Thornbury is in a Saxon charter of 896 AD. In a disastrous ancient love triangle, Brictric ‘the fair’– a powerful Saxon nobleman who owned Thornbury and many other properties – spurned the advances of Matilda of Flanders. Matilda later married William the Conqueror, who seized all of Britric’s lands after his invasion of England in 1066, awarded them to his queen, and imprisoned her one time love who may have starved to death.
Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, started building Thornbury Castle during the early years of the reign of Henry VIII, but was not able to fully complete his project. Long under suspicion because of his royal blood and lavish lifestyle, Stafford was arrested for high treason and executed on Tower Hill in 1521. Henry claimed the castle for himself, spending ten days here in 1535 while on royal progress with his second wife, Anne Boleyn. It remained crown property until Queen Mary I returned it to the Duke’s son in 1554.
For over two centuries, the castle was largely unoccupied, falling into ruin. In the 1850s, it was restored by the aristocratic Howard family who owned it until 1960. Its more recent occupants have included the Clifford family, Kenneth Bell MBE and the Baron and Baroness of Portlethen.
Now a luxurious hotel
Today, visitors can enjoy Thornbury Castle at its best. Tudor style meets modern excellence, with comfortable four-poster beds, magnificent open fireplaces, a dungeon dining room and a grand hall for balls, feasts and parties.
Outdoors, there are a variety of activities to conjure up the atmosphere of Tudor England. Play croquet on the lawn, have a go at archery, or learn the basics of falconry. Wonder at the unique opportunity to stay in a real castle, while enjoying top quality food, drink, and spa treatments. We’ll always go the extra mile to make things special: after all, whatever century you’re in, from the 16th to the 21st, time well spent is the greatest luxury of all.
*Please note we welcome children aged eight and over at Thornbury Castle.