Here we go. Up the hill, hoping whoever is on the other side is hugging their side of the road. After a good night's sleep and a good breakfast (I ate well, Tim had half a piece of toast and some tea), we programmed our little GPS (on my cell phone - without data!) for Hailes Abbey and Sudeley Castle, said a little prayer, and ventured out.
Here's another stone wall. I told you there would be more. Isn't it picturesque?
So. First thing - I've been mispronouncing Sudeley - it's "Soodeley" with a long "u", not a short one. Before visiting the castle, I knew that the last wife of Henry VIII (who managed to outlive him and keep her head) was buried in the church here, and had lived here with her second husband, Thomas Seymour (who was later beheaded by Queen Elizabeth I). Whew! That's a lot of history just there. But there's so much more. I won't burden you with all of it, but I was fascinated.
Sudeley Castle (with a long "u") is set in an AOB - Area of Outstanding Beauty. Gentle hills, clumps of forest, sheep grazing, golden stoned cottages - it's pure loveliness.
So what does one do with a very large tithe barn missing most of the walls and all of the roof? One creates a peaceful garden. This is half of the garden, behind the unseen photographer is the other half.
Earlier today we visited Hailes Abbey. That will be another post. Hailes Abbey was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. Thomas Cromwell was Henry VIII's minister who oversaw the destruction.
Ironically, Oliver Cromwell, Thomas' great-great-grand-nephew, destroyed much of Sudeley Castle years later during the English civil war.
The remains of two walls of the banqueting hall loom over the gardens evoking the grandeur of the past. Empty windows frame the view of the yew hedge and rose knot garden.
Roses, clematis, and all sorts of plants clamber up the walls. There's a lot of scope for imagination here, and plenty of inspiration for photos.
Another window from the banqueting hall ruin. And a stone chair. Not too comfy looking, but elegant with its festoon of roses.
Here's a view of the church with the castle in the background. Oliver Cromwell did a number on the church, too, using it as a butcher shop for hanging animals, and cutting meat on the communion table.
Acts of terror and desecration are not new, unfortunately. Power and greed corrupt throughout history.
But let's move on. Don't those clouds add to the mood of the photo? We're enjoying warm, dry, beautiful weather.
The building was left roofless and vandalized and the church members gathered in a very small chapel accessed by this door.
The quietness and peace of the gardens belies its disturbed past.
In 1979 the present owner, Lady Ashcombe and her late husband, created this garden in honour of their wedding that year. Wide beds of perennials line each side. Tim and I sat on one of the benches for some time, soaking in the warmth and sunshine.
The rose garden is worthy of its own post, too, later. I'll leave you with Rosa Eglantyne- isn't she a beauty?
Tonight we're going to The Apple Tree pub for dinner. Tim's ready to eat a proper meal. Thank you for all your kind comments. I wish you could all be here, too. What fun we could have had at the castle today.