Lady Ashcombe / Sudeley Castle & Gardens
This week on Duchess, the Duchess of Rutland travels to the historic Sudeley Castle & Gardens to meet Lady Ashcombe. In the show, Lady Ashcombe speaks candidly about the impact of the tragic loss of her husband so early into her life custodian, the Duchess gets a background on the castle’s immense royal history, and Lady Ashcombe describes the tales of ghostly monarchs that are said to walk Sudeley’s halls today.
"How many times have these grey suited individuals told you it isn't possible but the will of the chatelaine overcomes all." - Duchess
"You need to protect the home and it's contents because without the art that's on the walls these houses don't tell the story they were meant to. It all represents layers of history and we are just a moment in time - preserving, protecting and defending." - Duchess
"Sudeley Castle, and places like it, belong to the culture. Even though Sudeley is privately owned I feel that strongly about that. Especially because Sudeley wasn’t particularly built for a noble family. It evolved through the marching history of time." - Lady Ashcombe
About the Guest and Stately Home:
Lady Ashcombe was born Elizabeth Chipps in the United States. She would meet her future husband, Mark Dent-Brocklehurst, heir to Sudeley Castle, while at design school in New York. She married Mark in the early 1960s and the couple had two children together. In 1972, her husband died of a heart attack at just 40. Elizabeth later married Lord Ashcombe in 1979. She has spent decades restoring and running the castle but today, Elizabeth’s family largely run the house and estate.
In 1442, Ralph Boteler built Sudeley Castle. Boteler would sell Sudeley Castle to the King - making it Royal property granted to his brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Richard would become Richard III after his ascension and would later be killed at the battle of Bosworth - ending the war of the roses and transitioning Sudeley to Henry VII. It was in this period that Queen Katherine Parr would live and eventually die at Sudeley Castle. In the 1600s, Sudeley Castle would suffer surrenderings, desecrations, and attacks. Following its ‘slighting’ on Cromwell’s orders at the end of the Civil War, Sudeley lay neglected and derelict for nearly 200 years. The title and estate continued to change hands. In 1837, Sudeley was rescued from disrepair by the wealthy Worcester glove-makers, brothers John and William Dent. The house would remain in the same family until present day. In 1949, The Walter Morrison fine picture collection was inherited and brought to the estate and, in 1969, the castle opened its doors to the public.
About the Host:
Emma Rutland, The Duchess of Rutland, did not always stride the halls of stately homes. Born Emma Watkins, the Duchess grew up the daughter of a Quaker farmer, in the Welsh marsh countryside. She trained as an opera singer in the Guildhall School of Music, and worked as a successful interior designer before meeting her future husband David Manners, the 11th Duke of Rutland, at a dinner party. Their marriage in 1992 would transform Emma Watkins into the 11th Duchess of Rutland, thrusting her into the world of aristocracy, and handing her the responsibility of one of the nation's great treasures: Belvoir Castle. While simultaneously running the day to day operations of the castle, and raising five children, The Duchess became fascinated with the history and importance of the other stately homes of the UK. Join The Duchess as she embarks on a wonderful journey through time, to learn more about the incredible homes that have defined Great Britain and, most importantly, meet the other extraordinary women who work tirelessly behind their doors to preserve their history and magic for future generations.
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