Thornbury Castle

Coordinates: 51°36′49″N 2°31′48″W / 51.6136°N 2.5301°W / 51.6136; -2.5301

The west front of Thornbury Castle. The castle was begun in 1511 as a home for Edward Stafford, third Duke of Buckingham.

Thornbury Castle is a castle in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire, England. It was begun in 1511 as a home for Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham. It is not a true castle (designed to serve as a fortress), but rather an early example of a Tudor country house, with minimal defensive attributes. It is now a grade I listed building.

The site was occupied by a manor house in 930. Part of the original plans for a very grand residence were "well advanced"[1] before the duke was beheaded, in 1521, on the orders of his distant cousin Henry VIII, for alleged treason. As in the King's palace at Sheen, the main ranges of Thornbury framed courts, of which the symmetrical entrance range, with central gatehouse and octagonal corner towers, still stands, as do two less regular side ranges with many irregular projecting features and towers.

Following the Duke's death Thornbury was confiscated by King Henry VIII of England, who stayed at the castle for ten days in August 1535 with his queen, Anne Boleyn.[2] Following the English Civil War, the castle fell into disrepair, but was renovated in 1824 by the Howard family. It is situated behind St Mary's Church, a church whose founding dates from the Norman period.

Between 1966 and 1986 the castle was operated as one of the UK's top restaurants by Kenneth Bell MBE with staff including food writer Nigel Slater [3] and MasterChef New Zealand judge Simon Gault [4] early in their culinary careers.

The castle is now a 26-room luxury hotel and restaurant, and a venue for weddings.

There is a GWR Castle Class 4-6-0 locomotive in preservation named 7027 Thornbury Castle


The Castle seen from the top of St Mary’s Church tower
Detail of Castle chimneys
Thornbury Castle chimney detail, brickwork built in 1514

See also


  1. Sir John Summerson, Architecture in Britain 1530-1830, 9th ed. 1993:23.
  2. 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.
  3. '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)
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