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Home > > THORNBURY CASTLE, near Bristol


At-a-Glance Guide

27 bedrooms including 3 suites and self-contained 2-bedroom gatehouse
AA 2 Rosette restaurant, private dining
drawing room, lounge, library
extensive grounds, croquet lawn, archery



The earliest account of the manor of Thornbury dates from the time of King Alfred the Great’s grandson, Athelstan, who reigned from 925 to 940. It was owned at that time by Aylward. In 1020, his grandson, Brictric inherited it. He was ambassador at the Court of Baldwin, Count of Flanders, where he caught the eye of Baldwin’s daughter Matilda, but did not return her affections – something for which he would later pay dearly. Matilda went on to marry William the Conqueror, who seized the manor, and gave it to her. When she died in 1083, the manor reverted to the King. His son, known as William Rufus, ascended the throne in 1087, and granted Thornbury to Robert Fitzhamon as a reward for his support. It then passed through 28 generations of Staffords until, in 1727, William Howard, Earl of Stafford, sold it to his cousin Thomas Howard, 8th Duke of Norfolk - in whose family it remained until 1959.
Building of the present castle - by Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham - was begun in 1510. Up until then, Thornbury had been only a manor, but the Duke was given a licence to castellate it. Although in high favour at the start of the reign of the next king, Henry VIII, the Duke was later found guilty of high treason, and executed on Tower Hill. Henry VIII then appropriated the castle and it remained crown land for 33 years. In 1535 he and Anne Boleyn spent 10 days here, and his daughter, Mary Tudor also spent some years here as a child. After her death in 1554, Thornbury Castle was returned to the descendants of the late Duke.
For the next two centuries, the castle was unoccupied and fell into ruin. In the 1850s, Thornbury Castle once more became a family home - of the Howards, until 1959, and then, successively, the Clifford family, Kenneth Bell MBE, and the Baron and Baroness of Portlethen. The Baron of Portlethen later sold it to von Essen Hotels who, in December 2011, sold it to Luxury Family Hotels.


Thornbury Castle still weaves a spell of enchantment - although, with the passing of over 500 years since it was built, some portions, including the Great Hall, have been lost.


Eating here and sleeping here are wonderfully atmospheric experiences, which makes it an excellent choice for a romantic escape or honeymoon, and for a celebration. It’s near the M5 motorway, not far from the Severn Bridge, and makes a good base for exploring the Cotswolds, the wooded Wye Valley and Welsh border castles such as Berkeley, Raglan and Chepstow. Bath is within easy reach, and Bristol International Airport is 24 miles away.
Thornbury Castle is licensed to perform civil wedding ceremonies.


Few hotels can offer such imposing places to sit and enjoy as the Chancellor's Lounge, Library and Drawing Room here.

Thornbury Castle is renowned for its many traditional English favourites – including an exclusively British cheeseboard - and exceptional Sunday roasts. Modern, internationally-inspired dishes also feature on the menu.
Only the finest and freshest ingredients, sourced from local markets and suppliers wherever possible, are used, and the hotel grows its own herbs and a quantity of vegetables such as courgettes and cherry tomatoes. White wine made from the grapes grown in the castle’s vineyard is available.
The Tower Dining Room is a unique, hexagonal room with great character. It has large, imposing arrow-slit windows, a magnificent open fireplace - and five chamber-pot recesses!

There are 27 bedchambers: all are famously atmospheric, most with four-poster or coronet beds, stone walls, tapestries, ornate carved ceilings and roaring fires. Welcoming touches include a decanter of sherry.

Most Classic Bedchambers are in the south wing of the castle; the Buckingham is in the north wing. Some have views of the oldest Tudor garden in England, some overlook the ancient courtyard. There are two singles, six doubles, and two twin-bedded rooms. Mary 1st has a four-poster bed.
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Most of the Deluxe Bedchambers are located across the ancient courtyard, and overlook it, the front lawn and the fields to the rear of the castle. Two rooms, including the Duke’s Bedchamber in which Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn slept, are in the tower in the south wing and overlook the Tudor garden and vineyard. Most have four-poster beds and open fires; some have ornate ceilings, tapestries and wood panelling. There are 10 doubles and two twin-bedded rooms.
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All three Deluxe Suites have grand four-poster beds and two have Jacuzzi baths. The Tower Suite, on the third floor of the south wing tower, and accessed via a stone spiral staircase, features a magnificent, 10' wide, Tudor-style, four-poster bed, embellished with pure silk.
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In the Victorian gatehouse, which sits in its own garden next to the Thornbury Castle vineyard, there are two bedrooms - one double, one twin - two bathrooms, a lounge/dining room and a kitchen.
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...a range of beauty treatments can be arranged in the comfort and privacy of your room.

There is a croquet lawn and archery; and clay-pigeon shooting and falconry are available on-site (with prior notice and at additional cost). Fishing, quad biking and other activities can be arranged off-site (again with prior notice and at additional cost).
Within the grounds is Thornbury Castle’s own vineyard, producing a white wine that is served in the dining rooms. The grape harvest takes place late September or early October - depending on the weather during the summer months - and each year Thornbury welcomes all-comers to participate in the grape-picking.

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