It’s a new year and what better and more majestic way to spend some free time than visiting one of the imposing and beautiful castles and palaces that lie in the Cotswolds. Unfortunately, some of the castles tend to close for the winter months and re-open around March, but we’ve found a handful below that continue to allow visitors throughout the winter months and who will welcome you with open arms. Whether you fancy wandering around a Cotswold castle gaining an insight into days gone by and browsing important historical artifacts or walking through the gardens and seeing the buildings from the outside, we talk about our favourites below.
This 16th-century Cotswold castle lies on the outskirts of the Gloucestershire Cotswolds and has been converted into a hotel, meaning that you can actually stay over and live like royalty once did. Thornbury Castle was home to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and housed many dramatic events over the years. This now unique hotel offers modern excellence with a traditional Tudor atmosphere, The bedrooms have four-poster beds and the hotel has open fireplaces, a dungeon dining room, and a grand hall.
Thornbury Castle boasts beautiful gardens that offer visitors the chance to walk in the footsteps of the monarchy and noblemen who trod the path before them. Wonder through the vineyard and productive kitchen garden or master skills like croquet, falconry, and archery. Children from the age of 8 are allowed to stay at this Cotswold castle and pets are allowed in the public lounges and gardens, plus are also allowed to stay in the Deluxe Bedchambers and The Gatehouse.
Blenheim Palace is home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough and was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Steeped in history this palace is a feast for the eyes with its Baroque architecture and priceless collections to view. Wander from room to room marveling at the treasures including portraits, furniture, tapestries, and the long library containing over 10,000 books. Guided tours are on offer at Blenheim Palace if you fancy learning more and they’ll even show you parts of the palace that are still lived in.
Outside of the castle lies over 2000 acres of landscaped parkland and formal gardens, so if you have little ones who have patiently wandered around the castle with you, they can run around out here freely without causing too much mayhem. The gardens house several sites of interest including The Great Lake and the ancient oaks in High Park. There is a lovely castle serving gorgeous lunches and afternoon tea if you’re feeling the need for some refreshment. They also have an education team who work with schools to provide tours, resources and competitions and who really bring the palace to life for little people.
Kenilworth Castle is a must-see, especially if you have children with you, it’s a real place to explore with so many nooks and crannies to be investigated among the Cotswold Castle ruins. This vast medieval fortress is one of the largest attractions in the West Midlands area where you can really imagine the majesty of the medieval monarch whilst touring the great hall, climbing the tower, or exploring the exhibition at the Gatehouse. There are children’s audio tours for the trip which really keep the little ones engaged and there are activity packs to be completed whilst you tour the castle. The Elizabethan Garden has been newly reopened so you can grab some fresh air and stroll these beautiful grounds. If you make it to Kenilworth Castle whilst there is snow is around then it’s about as beautiful as you can get.
This Cotswold castle in beautiful Tetbury is a little different from the above we’ve talked about. Being privately owned it is not a tourist attraction and you can’t actually enter the castle, but there are some wonderful grounds that are often open to the public that you can wander around and get a real idea of the castle from the outside. Make sure you check online beforehand to avoid disappointment as the gardens aren’t always open. Beverston Castle feels quite special since it is still lived in and hasn’t been jazzed up with tea rooms, shops, and exhibitions.
If you are heading to the area anyway for a walk it is definitely worth adding this hidden Cotswold castle into your route, particularly in the Spring when the gardens are opening early for visitors to see the drifts of snowdrops overlooking the castle. Beverston castle seems to hold a slight mystery to it since you can’t go inside the castle and can often only glimpse it through the tall trees, it feels like a special little place and a hidden gem in the Cotswold countryside.