Hartlebury Castle has a fascinating history, with many intriguing stories to tell. First given to Bishop Aelhun in 855AD, the Castle continued to be home to the Bishops of Worcester right up until 2007. Today, the Castle is made up of two sections; the Bishop’s House and Worcestershire County Museum.
As you enter the Bishop’s House, Bishop Henry Pepys (Bishop of Worcester 1845 – 71) and his wife Maria will welcome you to the Castle and take you through the story of this magnificent building and the captivating lives of the bishops who lived here. You’ll be able to marvel at talking portraits, uncover hidden rooms and see our magnificent Great Hall, Georgian Saloon and Gothic Chapel.
In the North wing of the Castle, you can explore Worcestershire County Museum which has been welcoming visitors for over 50 years. Exploring the Museum’s themed galleries, evocative room sets and superb collections, uncover the intriguing story of Worcestershire and what life was like for people who lived here over the ages.
Outside you will find our Travel & Transport gallery containing a wide range of horse drawn vehicles and a fantastic collection of Gypsy caravans, alongside our 18th century cider mill.
With hands-on displays and fascinating themes Hartlebury Castle is a great day out for all the family.
Why is it called a ‘Castle’?
When first owned by the Bishops of Worcester, the site at Hartlebury was referred to as a ‘manor’. It officially became a Castle in 1268, when Bishop Giffard was given permission to fortify the site. The fortifications remained for nearly four centuries, until they were destroyed in 1648 at the end of the Civil War ensuring that it was never defendable again. When the Castle was restored in 1675 by Bishop Fleetwood, there was no longer any need for a fortified castle and so the beautiful country mansion that you see before you was created. In more recent centuries, the Castle also became known as the Bishop’s Palace, the official name given to a Bishop’s residence.
Walk in the footsteps of Royalty as you explore the Castle Grounds. Promenade along the Queen Elizabeth Walk, created for her visit in 1575 and stroll along the Orchard Terrace as King George III and Queen Charlotte did in 1788. Along the terrace you’ll also discover our 270 year old Mulberry tree, rediscovered during the restoration of the grounds in 2017 and amazingly still alive.
The Perimeter walk offers beautiful views of the Castle taking you across the Sunken Garden, Orchard Terrace and around the moat. It finishes in the Old Moat Coppice, a lovely space for a picnic. As you wander around, our grounds information sheet will provide you with more information and wonderful history about the gardens.
NB The Perimeter Walk includes steps and uneven surfaces, therefore is not suitable for wheelchairs or buggies.
Following the decision to move the Bishop of Worcester’s main residence to Worcester city centre and put the Castle up for sale, the grounds at Hartlebury Castle became overgrown and were untamed for over 10 years. Working with Worcestershire Woodland Project a group of Grounds Maintenance and Gardening volunteers have been working to restore them. If you would like to join our volunteer team visit our Volunteer page.
We are unable to allow dogs into the Grounds except Assistance Dogs. You are welcome to walk them in the Old Moat Coppice.
Café & Shop
After you’ve explored the Castle and grounds, a visit to The Bishop’s Table Café is the perfect way to relax and our Castle shop offers a variety of lovely souvenirs and gifts. Visit our café page to see its menu.