Thornbury Castle rears its royal towers above the gentle hills of Gloucestershire. Its noble countenance is as proud as the dukes and monarchs who laid their heads there in centuries past.
In 1511, King Henry VIII gave his kinsman, Edward Stafford, third Duke of Buckingham, permission to turn his manor at Thornbury into a glorious new construction. And Stafford did just that, renovating his country pile into a residence fit for a king.
Suspicious of challengers to his throne, Henry, (then lacking a legitimate son), didn’t take too kindly to Stafford’s grandeur and proclamations of royal lineage. On April 8, 1521, Stafford left Thornbury Castle to attend the king in London, and a month later, he was executed for treason.
The regal legacy of Thornbury lingers in its beautifully-manicured grounds and luxuriously-appointed guest suites named for important Tudor personages.
Stay in the Henry VIII bedchamber, once occupied by the king and his new bride Anne Boleyn, and gaze out over the majestic River Severn.
The Catherine of Aragon Tower Suite, named for Henry’s first wife, sits at the top of a 77-step spiral staircase and houses the biggest four-poster bed in any British hotel.
The elegant Jane Seymour Suite, given the name of Henry’s favorite (and third) spouse, offers stunning views that stretch all the way to Wales.
Historical tours of the property are available for those who want to immerse in Tudor times; the engaging guides make the centuries-old property come to vivid, sparkling life. There’s no question they can’t answer!
Unwind after a long day in front of a roaring fire while sipping a cocktail and peruse an antique book in the library.
Then, feast like a royal, courtesy of Executive Chef Carl Cleghorn, on a six-course tasting menu, which progresses from mackerel to artichoke, halibut to succulent duck, and a sweet ending, complete with exquisite wine pairings. A vegetarian tasting menu is also available.
In November 2021, Thornbury joined the Relais & Chateaux collection, becoming a new gem in this crown of nearly 600 landmark hotels and restaurants.
Browse the castle’s 15 acres of grounds, including the lush rose beds, herb garden, and labyrinth of wildflowers and long grass. Transport yourself back in time with Renaissance activities, like longbow archery lessons, clay pigeon shooting, falconry, and axe throwing, while romantic carriage rides offer a touch of romance to modern getaways.
By Carly Silver