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:

Henry III makes his Chancellor Godfrey Giffard Bishop of Worcester and grants him the right to fortify Hartlebury’s building, creating Hartlebury Castle.
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.
Mary Tudor stays at the Castle aged 10 when her journey to Ludlow was cancelled due to plague in the town.
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.
Bishop John Whitgift, while he was our Bishop, signed the paper to allow William Shakespeare to marry Anne Hathaway.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Founding of the Hurd Library
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.
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.
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.
Bishop Henry Pepys moves into the castle. His daughter Emily, aged 10, writes a diary describing her fascinating life at Hartlebury Castle.
Worcestershire County Council open the County Museum in the North Wing of the Castle
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.
The retirement of Bishop Selby prompts the Church Commission to sell Hartlebury Castle and the accompanying land
Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust Successfully purchase the Castle and surrounding land