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Historic treat: The Inspector stays at Bristol’s Thornbury Castle – once owned by Henry VIII

The Inspector spends a night in a ‘fancy’ 16th-century castle in Bristol that was once owned by Henry VIII… and declares it ‘a historic treat’

  • Thornbury Castle was built by the Duke of Buckingham, who was sentenced to death by Henry VIII in 1521
  • The Inspector’s ‘De Percy’ guest room has two oak headboards, a patterned carpet and mullion windows 
  • He’s impressed by the castle’s ‘immaculate’ grounds and the ‘delicious’ food in the hotel’s restaurant 

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You have to love Tudor to like Thornbury Castle in Bristol. Although, even if you find that period hard going, there’s no disputing the authenticity of this fine building.

It was built some 500 years ago by the Duke of Buckingham, who was the second wealthiest person in the country.

Trouble was that Henry VIII was the wealthiest, and in 1521 he summoned the Duke and chopped off his head for alleged treason.

The Inspector checks into Thornbury Castle in Bristol - it was built some 500 years ago by the Duke of Buckingham and has since become a hotel with 27 rooms

The Inspector checks into Thornbury Castle in Bristol – it was built some 500 years ago by the Duke of Buckingham and has since become a hotel with 27 rooms

The King briefly took possession of the castle and stayed here with his second wife, Anne Boleyn, who, of course, was also later beheaded.

It has since become a hotel with 27 rooms, and it’s a member of the Relais & Chateaux group. Which means fancy food and fancy prices.

My room is called De Percy, with Queen Mary I and Gloucester just down the corridor. It has two oak headboards, a patterned carpet and mullion windows.

King Henry VIII briefly took possession of the castle in the 1500s and stayed here with his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Pictured is the hotel's Jane Seymour Suite - named after the king's third wife

King Henry VIII briefly took possession of the castle in the 1500s and stayed here with his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Pictured is the hotel’s Jane Seymour Suite – named after the king’s third wife 

Downstairs, it’s film-set central, with huge fireplaces, a great hall, wood panelling everywhere and two dining rooms. 

I was hoping for a quick bite and had not quite bargained on three courses for £78 per person; six courses for £92.

I only wanted two courses, for which I paid £60 — but that did include a couple of canapes, an amuse-bouche and homemade bread. 

The Inspector describes the downstairs of the hotel as 'film-set central, with huge fireplaces, a great hall, wood panelling everywhere and two dining rooms'

 The Inspector describes the downstairs of the hotel as ‘film-set central, with huge fireplaces, a great hall, wood panelling everywhere and two dining rooms’

TRAVEL FACTS

Thornbury Castle, Castle St, Thornbury, BS35 1HH. Doubles from £249.

For more information visit thornburycastle.co.uk or call 01454281182.

Rating:

Everything was delicious, albeit tiny helpings. If you see Brussels sprouts on the menu here, get ready for a couple of green leaves. Service was superb and my starched white napkin was a thing of beauty.

The table next to mine was occupied by five Middle-Eastern guests. At one point, they all stood up and started pointing at the floor.

‘Have you lost something?’ asked the maitre d’, rushing to be of assistance.

‘No, there’s a spider,’ said one of them.

Fortunately, the spider was tracked down and dispensed with. Panic over.

Before breakfast, I walked around the immaculate grounds. Helpful signs pointed out various features, including the oriel windows of the Duke’s bedroom, thought to be the best examples of domestic Tudor windows in the country. And I loved the courtyard, with its mounting block, fountain and hydrangeas still standing to attention.

All in all, a historic treat.


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