The history of Hartlebury Castle.

The building that now stands here is believed to date back to the 13th century

HISTORY 2018-03-16T11:05:12+00:00

The history of Hartlebury Castle.

The land that Hartlebury sits on was granted to the Bishop of Worcester by King Burghred in the late 9th century, although the foundations of the building that now stands here is believed to date back to the 13th century. Since that time it has been a centre of ecclesiastical and administrative power in Worcestershire with its resident bishops involved in some of the major events of British history.

Hartlebury Castle tells the story of the bishops of a major see and their evolving role in English society, from political and military guardians of a frontier with Wales to active participants in political decision making in modern times. They number a pope (Clement VII) who played a key role in precipitating the establishment of the Church of England; Bishops Latimer and Hooper, Protestant martyrs of the Reformation; and Bishop Hurd, friend to King George III and creator of the Hurd Library.

Historical Highlights include:

1268
1268

Henry III makes his Chancellor Godfrey Giffard Bishop of Worcester and grants him the right to fortify Hartlebury’s building, creating Hartlebury Castle.

1282
1282

King Edward I becomes Hartlebury Castle’s first Royal visitor, collecting the Bishop’s men at arms en route to Wales to defend against rebellion.

1526
1526

Mary Tudor stays at the Castle aged 10 when her journey to Ludlow was cancelled due to plague in the town.

1575
1575

Queen Elizabeth I stays at the Castle for one night en route to Worcester with a party of 100 people. Bishop Bullingham spends a great deal of money to prepare the Castle and creates the Queen Elizabeth Walk.

1582
1582

Bishop John Whitgift, while he was our Bishop, signed the paper to allow William Shakespeare to marry Anne Hathaway.

1642
1642

Throughout the Civil War (1642-1646), the castle is held for King Charles I. A garrison of 120 men is commanded here by Captain William Sandys.

1646
1646

On May 16th 1646, Roundhead forces under Colonel Morgan take the castle after a siege of just 2 days, and without a single shot being fired.

1647
1647

After the Civil War, the castle is now being used as a prison for Royalists. Parliament elected to demolish the Castle, but the expenses would have been too much, so instead they sold it to Thomas Westrowe of Mitton.

1660
1660

In 1660, under the reign of Charles II, the castle has now come back to the Bishops, but it is in such a bad state of repair that it remains inhospitable for several years.

1675
1675

Charles II makes James Fleetwood the new Bishop of Worcester. Although there was enough money for restoration, the Bishop had no need to live in a fortified castle, so he turns it into the beautiful country mansion we see today.

1782
1782

Founding of the Hurd Library

1788
1788

King George III, Queen Charlotte, three of the princesses & the Duke of York visit Bishop Hurd. They enjoy tea, coffee, chocolate, fruit, jellies and similar for breakfast in the Hurd Library, and then parade in the garden in front of 8000 people.

1803
1803

The looming threat of invasion by Napoleon causes King George III to make plans, possibly, to move to the Old Palace in Worcester or Hartlebury Castle.

1807
1807

The Prince of Wales, the future George IV, comes to visit Bishop Hurd. Now 87 years old, Hurd is too frail to entertain the royal visitor for a whole evening, and the prince only stays for ¾ hour, despite having a private chamber set up for him.

1841
1841

Bishop Henry Pepys moves into the castle. His daughter Emily, aged 10, writes a diary describing her fascinating life at Hartlebury Castle.

1966
1966

Worcestershire County Council open the County Museum in the North Wing of the Castle

1980
1980

Queen Elizabeth II comes to lunch at the castle in 1980 after the Maundy Thursday Service at the Cathedral. She plants the Magnolia tree that you can see in the Carriage Circle.

2007
2007

The retirement of Bishop Selby prompts the Church Commission to sell Hartlebury Castle and the accompanying land

2015
2015

Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust Successfully purchase the Castle and surrounding land

Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust

Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust was formed with the purpose of preserving, for the benefit of the people of Worcestershire and of the UK, Hartlebury Castle, its gardens, grounds, parkland and historic contents including The Hurd Library. In March 2015 the Trust purchased Hartlebury Castle with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Trust has worked tirelessly to fundraise and garner support to save Hartlebury Castle for future generations. Their work has only just started though as they now work to restore Hartlebury and transform the Castle into a unique and sustainable visitor attraction.

The Trust is a registered charity which relies on the hard work and support of volunteers. It is governed by a board of Trustees currently chaired by Jacqui Watson and has a growing team of volunteers.

Museums Worcestershire

Museums Worcestershire is the joint museum service of Worcestershire County Council and Worcester City Council. As well as managing the County Museum, which has been based at Hartlebury Castle since 1966, they have provided support, advice and funding for the Hartlebury Castle project. The County Museum will remain open throughout the development work and will form an integral part of the new Hartlebury site.

Donate

Now your help is needed to turn the Castle into something really special. This is your opportunity to get involved in the journey to transform Hartlebury Castle. Every donation has an impact on what the Trust is able to achieve.

There are a number of ways that you can donate to the project:

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Volunteer

We want Hartlebury Castle to grow into a major visitor attraction for Worcestershire. Our ambitious plans need your help and support. We need people with determination and commitment who will work together to help us deliver our vision.

Volunteers are central to the future success of Hartlebury Castle.

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