Archaeologists to investigate long-lost Tudor garden at Sudeley Castle

DigVentures archaeologists are set to unearth a long-lost Tudor garden at Sudeley Castle.

A recent geophysical survey has revealed the ghostly outline of a long-lost Tudor garden, with traces of what could have been a banqueting house in the same area where pieces of Tudor masonry were found in the 19th century. Now experts say it is time to investigate further.

The dig will take place at the Winchcombe visitor attraction over the weekend of October 13 and 14 and is thought to be the most significant archaeological investigation since the discovery of Roman villas on the estate in Victorian times.

A specialist team from social archaeology company, DigVentures, will begin an investigation of the site, which aims to ‘ground-truth’ the geophysics results. They hope to reveal some of the Tudor secrets that remain hidden underground at the castle.

Best-selling historical novelist Dr Philippa Gregory will also be joining the team. Philippa, who’s well-known works include The Other Boleyn Girl and The White Queen, started her research into Sudeley Castle whilst working on a novel about Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife. Philippa said: “Sudeley is a fascinating site. It was always one of the most treasured by the Tudor monarchs as such, housed those closest to the crown. Lavish banquets, with dozens of guests, and many courses would have been common here. I can’t wait to see what else this excavation can tell us about life here.”

Members of the public can see the excavation in progress through a series of guided tours at the castle on Saturday and Sunday October 13 and 14, which are free with castle admission and no prior booking is necessary. These initial investigations may lead to further excavations on a larger scale next year.

Sudeley Castle’s head gardener, Stephen Torode, said: “This is hugely exciting – it could be a very important chapter in the history of Sudeley Castle – it will certainly be the most significant event in terms of the gardens here since the 19th century. It’s not every day that you get the chance to help discover a long lost Tudor garden.”

Following the popular landscaping movement inspired by Capability Brown, many Tudor gardens were lost, and this is perhaps just one of only two in England where the original paths remain visible.

He added: “The site has remained untouched since the mid-seventeenth century, so this is a fantastic chance for us to build up a picture of what it would have looked like. It is also a rare opportunity for lovers of Tudor history to come along and watch archaeologists at work as they begin to reveal new details about Sudeley Castle’s past.”

DigVentures co-founder Lisa Westcott Wilkins said: “We know that Queen Elizabeth I visited Sudeley Castle in the summer of 1592, while on a tour of her kingdom.

“It was the anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada, and Elizabeth and her retinue famously attended a lavish three-day party hosted, at great expense, by Giles Brydges, 3rd Baron Chandos of Sudeley. This epic celebration has been described as one of the longest in royal history, but exactly where it took place has so far remained a mystery.”

Anyone interested in joining next year’s larger, crowdfunded excavation at Sudeley Castle can register their interest by joining DigVentures’ email list at

For nearly 1,000 years, Sudeley Castle has hosted some of England’s most famous monarchs including Henry VIII. It is also where Katherine Parr, Henry’s last wife, later lived and was finally laid to rest.

Today Sudeley Castle is widely recognised as one of the most romantic and beautiful buildings castle in England, surrounded by a 1,200 acre estate and 10 award-winning gardens.

For more information about Sudeley Castle and gardens, visit or phone 01242 602 308.


For media enquiries relating to DigVentures, please contact Lisa Westcott-Wilkins on

For media enquiries relating to Sudeley Castle, please contact Lucy King on 07960 566 548 or

Notes to editors

About DigVentures

DigVentures is a social business that designs and delivers collaborative archaeology projects and experiences in the UK and beyond, using crowdfunding, crowdsourcing and digital technology to increase opportunities for the public to participate in archaeological research.

Participants can support excavations by pledging money in return for a variety of benefits, from joining the team in the field, to masterclasses on identifying artefacts or documenting a dig. Venturers and supporters from around the world can follow the digs live online through DV’s bespoke Digital Dig Team app. Every object and discovery is logged live from the trenches via iPads, tablets and smartphones, making it instantly accessible from anywhere in the world.

DigVentures is a Chartered Institute for Archaeologists Registered Organisation.

media enquiries please contact Lucy King on 07960 566 548 or email

Sudeley Castle

  • Sudeley Castle is located in Winchcombe in the heart of the Cotswolds.
  • The Castle and gardens are open from Monday, March 5 until Friday, December 21, 2018. Open daily from 10am until 5pm, closing at 4pm from October 29.
  • Rated among the top attractions on TripAdvisor for ‘Things to do in the Cotswolds’, the castle rooms and exhibits contain many fascinating treasures, from ancient Roman times to the present day.
  • Outside, the castle is surrounded by a breath-taking 1,200 acre estate and 10 award-winning gardens, the centrepiece being the Queen’s Garden.
  • The Pheasantry at Sudeley houses a collection of 16 rare and endangered species of birds from around the world as part of Sudeley’s programme of breeding and conservation.
  • Sudeley Castle and Gardens is the only private castle in England to have a queen buried within its grounds – Katherine Parr, the last of Henry VIII’s six wives. Today visitors can explore the beautiful 15th century church where she lies entombed.
  • The whole family can explore the castle’s fascinating past and enjoy a host of exciting events throughout the year.
  • Children can scale the new wooden fun fort and whizzing on the zip wire in the adventure playground, as well as tackling the assault course.
  • Tickets cost £16.50 for adults/concessions, £7.50 for children (3-15 years). Children under 3 are free. Family tickets (2 adults and 2 children aged 3-15) cost £43.
  • Prices are reduced by 30 per cent from October 29 – December 21, 2018.
  • Discounts are available, visit for eligibility details.
  • Discounts are available for group bookings.

Membership is available, valid from date of purchase for 12 calendar months.

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Written by Maiya Pina-Dacier

Head of Community at DigVentures, Maiya digs with a trowel in one hand, and a Twitter feed in the other. She reports on all our discoveries live from the trenches, and keeps our Site Hut full of the latest archaeology news. Got a story? Just drop her a line...

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