Sudeley Castle stands in a wide Cotswold valley, near the town of Winchcombe in Gloucestershire, and the mellow golden castle is surrounded by green parkland, with richly wooded hills rising beyond. The situation is breathtaking, and the ancient castle and its gardens are a feast for any garden lover. It is in parts a living castle, in parts a romantic ruin, succeeding in bringing together both its history and its present. Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn came in 1535, and Queen Elizabeth I visited several times. When the Queen arrived on 9 September 1592, she was greeted by ‘an olde Shepheard’ who gave her a lock of white wool representing her as the Virgin Queen, and symbolising the wool trade which was the principal strength of the Cotswold economy for centuries.
In the small Cotswold village of North Cerney, in the beautiful Churn Valley, up on a hillside above the church, Cerney House looks down over a sloping garden between wide herbaceous borders to a small pool. The driveway approaches the house and gardens from the front, allowing the arriving visitor a view of the lawns and mature trees, before walking around to begin the visit behind the house with the Victorian walled garden. Go through the acorn gates and the vista ahead is up a gently sloping wide path to a pretty gazebo. This garden is surrounded by mature beech woodland and orchards rising up the hillside on three sides, making it a secluded, secret place, tucked into the shelter of the little valley.