Hartlebury Castle was the home of the Bishops of Worcester from 855 to 2007. Three of our bishops became saints, two were burned at the stake for their faith, one became the Pope who refused Henry the VIII his divorce and another was present at the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. They have amazing stories to tell and their history and that of Hartlebury Castle is inextricably linked with the history of the nation.
However, in 2007 there was a risk that all that history could be lost. The Bishop’s home was moved to Worcester and there was talk that the Castle and its surrounding land could be sold for development. Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust was formed to prevent that.
The Trust is a charity formed:
To preserve for the benefit of the people of Worcestershire and of the Nation Hartlebury Castle, its gardens, grounds, parkland and historic contents including the Hurd Library.
With the help of a £5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund the Trust purchased the Castle in 2014 and carried out renovations to open it as a visitor attraction in April 2018. We have been supported by our colleagues at the County Museum which has leased part of the site since the 1960s and in the first year over 20,000 visitors came to learn about our history and to enjoy the beautiful grounds.
The challenge of purchasing and renovating the Castle was huge. But the fact that it is now open to visitors does not mean it is “saved”. We are of course immensely grateful to the National Lottery and to all our other funders for their contribution to the visitor attraction you see today. But for the Castle to be truly “saved” it needs to be self-sufficient, generating enough annual income to cover the substantial costs of maintaining and running it.
When you visit Hartlebury Castle you are directly contributing to the charity which is fighting to preserve it. Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust receives a proportion of your entry fees, and any money you spend in the shop or the café comes to us. We run events and workshops to generate income, and you can also hire parts of the Castle for weddings, parties or meetings. All of this helps us to keep the Castle open so that people can learn its fascinating history and enjoy its peaceful grounds. If you would like to help further, you can also donate either by text or cheque. Every penny goes towards maintaining and preserving this slice of history for future generations.