Featured image of Thornbury Castle

The History of Thornbury Castle

LocationThornbury, Gloucestershire, England (Google Map Location)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byKhamas Group
Official WebsiteThornbury Castle
Rooms AvailableYes

Located in Gloucestershire, Thornbury Castle is an elegant Tudor-style structure that has a history that spans several centuries. It was initially a manor that dates back to the 10th century and was transformed into a grand castle-palace in the early 16th century. The Castle stands out as the main attraction in the town of Thornbury and stands today as the only Tudor Castle operating as a hotel in all of England. Thornbury Castle has a grand exterior, with its exquisite privy gardens and labyrinth making it a spectacle to behold. The Castle houses several lavish rooms named after its former residents- King Henry VIII, Buckingham, and Anne Boleyn. Thornbury Castle’s luxurious rooms can be booked and guests can dine at the Michelin Star rated restaurant located on the premises, making it an excellent venue for holidays and events.


Historical records show that Thornbury Castle was initially a manor dating back to the time of King Athelstan (925-940), grandson of King Alfred the Great. The manor was in possession of Aylward and was passed on to his grandson, Brictric, in the year 1020. The Castle was seized by William the Conqueror and was later passed on to William Rufus, who ascended the throne in 1087. In 1314, Gilbert de Clare, who was Lord of the Manor of Thornbury, was killed in the Battle of Bannockburn.

In 1347, Ralph Stafford came into Thornbury Castle’s possession after his father-in-law, Hugh, Lord Audley, passed away. In 1483, Henry Stafford rebelled against King Richard III and was beheaded without being given a proper trial. He was purged of his knighthood, leaving his son Edward with no title or property to inherit. Edward Stafford was later reinstated as a Knight of the Order of the Bath and Duke of Buckingham by Henry VIII after Richard III was defeated. Edward Stafford was known to be the second wealthiest man, second only to King Henry VIII himself.

Edward wanted to build a home whose grandeur matched the King’s home, the Richmond Palace and was granted permission to transform his country manor at Thornbury into a fortified country home. Edward was suspected of treason against the King and was beheaded in 1521, and Thornbury Castle was confiscated. Henry VIII stayed there briefly with his wife, Queen Anne Boleyn, in 1535, who was also beheaded ten months later. The Castle remained in the Crown’s possession till 1554 when Queen Mary I returned it to the Stafford family as a token of gratitude for taking care of her mother, Catherine of Aragorn. The Staffords, however, did not live at Thornbury Castle, which gradually fell into ruins. In 1640, Mary Stafford, the last in the lineage of the Stafford family, married William Howard, and the Castle went into the possession of the Howards and remained so till 1959.


Thornbury Castle
Thornbury Castle”, by nick sarebi, is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The campus comprises gardens to the southeast of the Castle surrounded by a high stone wall. Thornbury Castle’s park consists of the area enclosed by the Castle ranges and outer walls. The Church of St Mary is located to the Castle’s south and has its origins in the 12th century. However, it today mostly consists of a 15th-century structure with later additions and restorations.

The eastern range consisting of the original medieval hall and chapel was demolished sometime before 1732. In 1849, Henry Howard renovated Thornbury Castle for his private residence. He commissioned Anthony Salvin, who redesigned the gardens in an 18th-century interpretation of the Tudor style, which remains today. The buildings made of Cotswold stone ashlar comprise an inner court that can be entered through a gatehouse. The south range’s south-facing elevation is the masterpiece of the Castle, decorated with compass windows carrying elaborate geometric profiles. The south and west ranges are decorated with emblems. Thornbury Castle’s luxurious rooms house stone walls, silk hangings with intricate features, and Tudor-style interior design.

Movie Features

  • The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2001)– Thornbury Castle features in this dramatic documentary narrated and presented by historian David Starkey. The lives of King Henry VIII and his wives are narrated in this documentary.

Frequently asked Questions

Who owned Thornbury Castle?

Thornbury Castle was initially in possession of Aylward during the time of King Athelstan (925-940). The Stafford family owned the Castle in the 15th and 16th centuries, till King Henry VIII confiscated it after Edward Stafford, then Duke of Buckingham was beheaded for treason. The Howard family finally owned the Castle from 1640 till the 1960s.

Can Thornbury Castle be booked for events?

Thornbury Castle can be booked for weddings and other social gatherings. The Castle’s grand bedrooms can also be booked for a stay.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

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He is a versatile E-Learning Support Officer and former Academic Officer at the University of York, United Kingdom. Not just an expert in education and technology, Debayan also has a deep love for castles and mountains. With a passion for travel, having explored 168+ cities worldwide, and a keen eye for photography, He brings a unique blend of experiences to the table. Specializing in E-learning content, IT support, AR development, and software engineering, Debayan has made a significant impact, educating over 200,000 students on Udemy.

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