For lovers of Tudor architecture and history, including King Henry VIII’s reign, Kimbolton Castle in Cambridgeshire has that in spades. The castle was the family seat from 1615 through to 1950 for the Earls and Dukes of Manchester too. It was also most notably the last home of Queen Katharine of Aragon, King Henry’s first wife. Needless to say, there’s Tudor history here, and plenty of it.
Impressive Location and Evolving Castle
The location of Kimbolton Castle is near to St Neots. The castle has seen many changes over the centuries. Originally more of a fortified house with a 13th century design, it was substantially improved upon and expanded in the 18th century too.
A traditional castle with a moat around it and now considered a country house, it has all the hallmarks of Tudor design. And yet it has also been modernised through the last couple of centuries including new walls, replaced windows, and other necessary additions. Most of the changes were made after Queen Katharine’s death from ill-health in her remaining years.
Queen Katharine of Aragon
While she remained a Queen, it was forbidden for people to refer to her in that manner – such was the level of banishment that she suffered at the hands of King Henry VIII who had his plans. She was assisted through ill-health in her declining years by two friends who stood by her side despite her apparent unpopularity at the time. Her bed chamber and the closet she used were largely thought to be untouched over the centuries since. However, to preserve them for history, updates were made with new windows and other alterations.
Classic Design and Changes in Ownership
The design has classic elements including an expansive courtyard in the centre surrounded on all sides. The Tudor pillars at the front of the building prove imposing, but the castle is expansive enough in its own right.
In the 1950s, the 10th Duke of Manchester decided to sell it to the Kimbolton School. The sale included some of the family portraits that indicate the history of the family there. What was once the addition of stables is now the Music School and a dining hall for students. The Preparatory School now uses some of the property for its own purposes while other parts are open to the public.
The important State Rooms and other aspects of stately life have been restored. This allows visitors to see how Dukes and Earls previously lived on the property.
Unusual History of Kimbolton Castle
The reality with many castles and stately homes is that they’re extremely costly to own and maintain. It has become necessary to open them up to viewing by tourists who can benefit from experiencing a little of the history and majesty of the time. The revenue from such activities allows for the better upkeep of the grounds, property, and more.
For tourists and present occupiers of the Kimbolton Castle and grounds, this is a win-win. The students benefit from studying in historical surroundings for a unique schooling experience, and tourists from Britain and abroad get to see a different side of Tudor life and over 600 years of history.