Thornbury Castle

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Thornbury Castle, west front Thornbury.castle.west.front.arp.750pix.jpg
Thornbury Castle, west front

Thornbury Castle is a Tudor castle in the town of Thornbury, in Gloucestershire, England, erected next to the parish church of St Mary. Construction was begun in 1511 as a further residence for Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham (1478–1521), of Stafford Castle in Staffordshire. It is not a true military fortress but rather an early example of a Tudor country house, with minimal defensive attributes. As at Richmond Palace in Surrey, the main ranges of Thornbury framed courts, of which the symmetrical entrance range, with central gatehouse and octagonal corner towers, survives, together with two less regular side ranges with many irregular projecting features and towers. [1] It is now a Grade I listed building [2] [1] that is operated as a hotel. [3] [2]



The site was occupied by a manor house in 930; Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford & Earl of Pembroke, died there in 1495. Part of the original plans for a very grand residence were "well advanced", [4] with a licence to crenellate being granted in 1508, [5] before the 3rd Duke of Buckingham was beheaded for treason in 1521, by order of King Henry VIII.

Following the 3rd Duke's death, Thornbury was confiscated by Henry, who stayed there for ten days in August 1535 with Queen Anne Boleyn. [6] In 1554 Queen Mary, who had visited Thornbury in 1525, [7] granted the castle and manor to Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford. [5] Following the Civil War, the castle fell into disrepair, but was renovated in 1824 by the Howard family. [8]


The castle is now a 26-room luxury hotel and restaurant, and a venue for weddings. Between 1966 and 1986 the castle was operated as one of the UK's top restaurants by Kenneth Bell with staff including food writer Nigel Slater [9] and MasterChef New Zealand judge Simon Gault [10] early in their culinary careers.

A report in March 2022 indicated that all of the bedrooms and suites of the hotel had been refurbished. Since November 2021, the property had been a member of Relais & Châteaux. [11]


There was a GWR Castle class 4-6-0 locomotive in preservation named 7027 Thornbury Castle. [12] In August 2022 the future restoration of Thornbury Castle was called into question when the Great Western Society's 4709 Group bought the locomotive with the intention of donating the boiler to their project to re-create a GWR 4700 Class. [13] [14] [15] Thornbury Castle's chassis and other components were to be used to recreate a GWR Star class locomotive. [16]


The Castle seen from the top of St Mary's Church tower
The Castle seen from the top of St Mary's Church tower
Detail of Castle chimneys Thornbury.twochimneys.arp.750pix.jpg
Detail of Castle chimneys
Thornbury Castle chimney detail, brickwork built in 1514 Thornbury.chimney.detail.arp.750pix.jpg
Thornbury Castle chimney detail, brickwork built in 1514

See also

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  1. 1 2 Historic England. "Thornbury Castle, Inner Court (1128788)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 19 March 2024.
  2. 1 2 Historic England. "Thornbury Castle (1000569)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 March 2024.
  3. Knight, Jane (1 July 2021). "Thornbury Castle". The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  4. Sir John Summerson, Architecture in Britain 1530-1830, 9th ed. 1993:23.
  5. 1 2 Cooke, Robert (1957). West Country Houses. Batsford. pp. 46–49.
  6. Letters & Papers Henry VIII, vol. 8, (1885), no. 989, the King's Gestes (advance plan) 5 July 1535; correspondence of Cromwell & his servants at Thornbury, vol. 9 (1886), nos. 114, 155, 124, 157.
  7. Melita Thomas, The King's Pearl: Henry VIII and his daughter Mary (Amberley, 2017), p. 81.
  8. "A History of Thornbury Castle". Celtic Castles. Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  9. 'Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger', Fourth Estate Ltd, ( ISBN   1-84115-289-7, 2003) or HarperPerennial ( ISBN   0-7011-7287-8, 2004)
  10. Mullinger, Lucy. "Life… An Ever Changing Recipe". ELocaL COMMUNITY MAGAZINE -. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  11. "Thornbury Castle completes refurbishment". Boutique Hotel News. Retrieved 26 July 2022. Thornbury Castle is the only Tudor castle in the UK which operates as a hotel and restaurant
  12. "7027 Thornbury Castle". FB. Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  13. "4709 Group purchases Great Central Railway-based steam locomotive 7027 Thornbury Castle". RailAdvent. Retrieved 13 August 2022.
  14. "4709 Group buys Thornbury Castle — 4709 – The Ultimate British 2–8–0". 4709 – The Ultimate British 2–8–0. Retrieved 13 August 2022.
  15. "7027 Thornbury Castle | Didcot Railway Centre". Retrieved 13 August 2022.
  16. Perton, Paul (15 August 2022). "Breathing new life into Thornbury Castle — 4709 – The Ultimate British 2–8–0". 4709 – The Ultimate British 2–8–0. Archived from the original on 15 August 2022. Retrieved 15 August 2022.

51°36′49″N2°31′48″W / 51.6136°N 2.5301°W / 51.6136; -2.5301