TICKETS & PRICES

Adults: £5.00
Children 5-17 Years: £2.50
OAP: £4.00
Private group tours: £5.00 per head (minimum charge, £75.00)

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Visiting Kimbolton Castle

Built after the Norman Conquest, Kimbolton Castle was a medieval fortress in Kimbolton. It’s renowned for being the last residence of Queen Katherine of Aragon, the estranged wife of King Henry VIII. Today, the Castle building is home to Kimbolton School and has a limited number of public visiting times.

Parking

There’s a free parking area at Kimbolton Castle. The car park has ample parking spaces and also allows coaches.

 

Price

Admission charges to Kimbolton Castle are as follows:

Adults

£5.00

Children

£2.50

Retired

£4.00

Private group tours

£5.00 per head (minimum charge, £75.00)

 

Opening

Kimbolton Castle is open to the public on the following dates:

  • Sunday 7th November 2021: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday 6th March 2022: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Location and Access

Kimbolton Castle is located in Kimbolton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire in England. The Castle’s Adam Gatehouse is in the village centre, 10 minutes from the A1, 15 minutes from A45, and less than 10 minutes from A14.

The Castle is accessible by both road and rail. You can take the 150 or 400 bus lines that stop at the nearest station (St. Andrew’s Lane, Kimbolton).

If travelling by train, the nearest station is St Neots, around 45 minutes north of London.

Due to the Castle’s historical setting, the State Rooms have no wheelchair access. However, if notified in advance, the management can limit the number of stairs to be accessed when visitors with mobility impairment are touring the Castle.

Also, laminated sheets showing the main touring spots of Kimbolton Castle are available for visitors with hearing difficulties.

Know Before You Go

  • Kimbolton Castle is open to private group tours to the Castle on arranged dates throughout the year. However, they’re only restricted to school holidays when visitors can even have mid-week visits.
  • The maximum number of visitors per group is 70.
  • Touring the Castle’s interior only takes about 1 ½ hours. However, if also visiting the exterior, including the State Rooms, the tour should be at least 2 hours.

Places To Stay Nearby

Summerfield Farm

Distance from Kimbolton Castle: 2.4 km (1.49 mi)

Situated on 58 High Street, Tilbrook (neighbouring Kimbolton), Summerfield Farm is a self-contained and self-catering apartment with welcoming amenities.

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Redwood Cottage, Huntingdon

Distance from Kimbolton Castle: 3.5 km (2.17 mi)

Located in Covington, Huntingdonshire, Redwood Cottage is a 3-star facility with a welcoming atmosphere. The friendly cottage provides high-quality services, including a well-equipped kitchen, heating facilities in rooms, a living area, a games room, and a garden.

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The Hall Farm Bed and Breakfast

Distance from Kimbolton Castle: 6 km (3.72 mi)

The Hall Farm B&B is a top-rated facility on Hall Lane, featuring accommodation, self-catering, a lounge, and a garden. The B&B guarantees guests’ comfort and value for their money by offering a continental and full English breakfast, entertainment, free WiFi, and fully equipped rooms.

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History of Kimbolton Castle 

Though the original Kimbolton Castle doesn’t exist today, the current building (hosting Kimbolton School) tells of the Castle’s rich and intriguing history. Kimbolton Castle underwent several phases of remodelling and modifications, especially in the 17th century. It was the seat of famous persons, including the Dukes of Manchester and Queen Katherine of Aragon.

Time Line


-1200s

Geoffrey Fitzpiers, the first Earl of Essex, builds a castle at Kimbolton. However, this was not the earliest Castle in the area, as the Normans had established another wooden motte and bailey fortress in Kimbolton.

The Castle built by Geoffrey Fitzpiers was after King John allowed the Lord of the Manor to hold a fair and market at Kimbolton. George, the Earl of Sussex, established High Street as a market, where the church and Castle were set each on one edge of the street.

Though nothing remained of this simple stone castle, the present Castle lies on this Norman fortress site.

-1300s

Kimbolton Castle had a succession of owners in the 14th century who made some structural improvements.

-1400s

Anne Stafford, the Duchess of Buckingham (widow to the Duke of Buckingham), rebuilds the inner courtyard of Kimbolton Castle.

-1520s

The Wingfield family, who were the current owners of Kimbolton Castle, reconstructed the medieval castle as a Tudor Manor. The building would later be Queen Katherine of Aragon’s final residence.

Some remains of the historic Tudor mansion built by the Wingfield family exist up to date. Visitors can view these parts through a glass panel on a wall of the Red Room or the corridor behind the chapel.

-1534

King Henry VIII exiled Queen Katherine to Kimbolton Castle. This directive was after Henry VIII planned to divorce her though it was against her will. However, she had no choice but to move to the Castle.

While at the Castle, Katherine of Aragon was not permitted to see her only child, Mary.

After Katherine of Aragon set for the Castle, her health deteriorated. The damp climate of nearby fens adversely affected her, and she died in 1536. Her body was taken via a procession to the Peterborough Abbey (now Cathedral) for burial.

It is said that Katherine of Aragon’s ghost still haunts Kimbolton Castle to date as she died an unhappy queen.

-1600

Kimbolton Castle came under the ownership of Sir John Popham. The Popham Gallery above the Chapel is named after him, and his portrait hangs in the Queen’s Room. He also became a Chief Justice in his later years.

Sir John is renowned for being the judge presiding over the trial of Guy Fawkes. Legends have it that he killed his baby daughter by throwing her through the window. Therefore, he contributed to the ghost stories of Kimbolton Castle.

-1615

Sir Henry Montagu, the first Earl of Manchester (his portrait stands in the Saloon), bought Kimbolton Castle. The Montagu family-owned Kimbolton Castle for the next 335 years. His son Edward (the second Earl) was a renowned Parliamentarian.

Edward Montagu was also Oliver Cromwell’s senior officer during the early years of the Civil War. His portrait (done by Sir Peter Lely) is presently above the fireplace in the Saloon.

One of Sir Henry’s descendants (Charles Edward Montagu) and the fourth Earl of Manchester had the Castle rebuilt and upgraded. The reconstruction involved repairing the courtyard and adding the main staircase. A local builder, William Coleman, divided the Great Hall into two rooms, the White Hall and the Red Room.

-1707

The southeast corner (now site of the Green Room) of Kimbolton Castle collapsed. Charles Montagu called for the assistance of architects Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor to remodel the South Front. The two transformed the Tudor Mansion into a classical-style building.

However, they retained the battlements to preserve the Castle’s history.

John Vanbrugh also refaced the remaining three sides of Kimbolton Castle. His principal State Room was the Saloon which had the State Bedchamber (presently the Headmaster’s study) on one side and Green Drawing Room on the other side. The Bedchamber’s adjoining Boudoir was on the site of Katherine of Aragon’s rooms.

The Earl (later became the Duke of Manchester) also used the service of Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, a Venetian painter who decorated the interior. He gilded the furniture in the rooms as inspired by Louis XIV’s French style. One of Giovanni’s significant paintings is on the walls and ceilings of the main staircase.

Giovanni’s other works include the portrait of the Earl’s children in the White Hall, the Chapel wall paintings, and the ceiling of the Boudoir.

-1754

Robert Adam, a Palladian country house architect, also worked at Kimbolton Castle. He made some neo-classical designs for the Castle buildings. However, only the Gatehouse facing the market was constructed. It comprised the Castle Brew House (currently the School Shop) and the Castle laundry (now the Bursary).

Robert also made plans for other garden buildings, such as the orangery. However, these were never established. The layout of the Castle grounds changed, and the iron gates shifted to their current position.

-1800s

There was an addition of an extra storey of attic rooms on the northern side of Kimbolton Castle. The Mews (presently the School’s Dining Hall and Music School) were added to create the castle's stables. Also, on the eastern side, the avenues of Wellingtonias were planted on each side of the Mall.

-1900s

The Royal Army Medical Corps utilized Kimbolton Castle during World War II.

-1950

The 10th Duke of Manchester, who was living in Kenya, sold the Castle and family portraits to Kimbolton School (currently the Preparatory School).

A Warren House, initially built in the 16th century, was converted into a folly in the late 1900s. The former warrener’s (or gamekeeper’s) residence stands alone on the escarpment overlooking the Castle. It was a simple wooden-framed cottage that dilapidated with time.

The Landmark Trust, under architect Oliver Caroe, renovated and restored the Warren House to its former self between 2011 and 2012. It’s now a Grade II listed building and a holiday home accommodating two guests.

Kimbolton Castle Occupants

During its age-long existence, Kimbolton Castle has been the residence of nobles and members of the royal family. Each of these aristocrats improved the castle in one way or another during their stay.

Some of the notable occupants of Kimbolton Castle include:

  • Geoffrey Fitzpiers, the first Earl of Essex and founder of Kimbolton Castle
  • Anne Stafford, the Duchess of Buckingham
  • The Wingfield family reconstructed the Castle
  • Queen Katherine of Aragon, King Henry VIII’s estranged wife
  • Sir John Popham, a former Chief Justice
  • Sir Henry Montagu, the first Earl of Manchester
  • Edward Montagu, the second Earl of Manchester (a renowned Parliamentarian and former senior officer)
  • Charles Edward Montagu, the fourth Earl of Manchester (later Duke of Manchester)

Images of Kimbolton Castle

Kimbolton Castle
Kimbolton Castle

Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package

Kimbolton Castle Facts

The present Kimbolton Castle (or Kimbolton School) is a Georgian Mansion and an example of the 18th-century English manor house.

Kimbolton Castle is renowned for documentaries about the Tudor dynasty and series, such as Wolf Hall. It’s also an ideal venue for weddings, family celebrations, dinners, and formal balls.

Although the castle grounds now belong to a school, Kimbolton Castle is still famous for being allegedly haunted by the ghost of Katherine of Aragon. People believe that she was traumatized by Henry VIII’s orders against the Queen, seeing her only daughter while at the Castle.

Moreover, the King didn’t allow Katherine to see her daughter before she died after her health deteriorated.

Kimbolton Castle Q&A

  • Are pets allowed at Kimbolton Castle? No. Only registered guide dogs can enter the Castle grounds and State Rooms.
  • Are there tour guides at the Castle? Members of Kimbolton History Society serve as room stewards and guide visitors during their tours.
  • Did Kimbolton Castle participate in any military activity? No. Kimbolton Castle is one of the unique castles in England because it was never involved in warfare. The Castle mainly served as a residential building throughout its existence, although it was a military hospital during World War II.
  • How do I get to Kimbolton Castle from St Neots? You can travel by bus, a taxi, or drive your car from Saint Neots to Kimbolton Castle. The bus journey takes between 1 hour, 32 minutes and 2 hours, 17 minutes. However, there’s only one bus per week, though the situation may vary on weekends and holidays. Taking a taxi or driving to the Castle will take around 17 minutes.

Location of Kimbolton Castle

Kimbolton Castle is located in Kimbolton, a large village in Huntingdonshire, a historic county in England. Kimbolton lies about 9 miles (14.48 km) west of Huntingdon and 14 miles (22.53 km) north of Bedford.

The name Kimbolton is of Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning “Cenebald’s Ton” (estate). The area obtained the name as it was the only estate of King Harold in Huntingdonshire.

Kimbolton Castle is the village’s most significant attraction, and it’s especially famous due to its association with Queen Katherine of Aragon.

The Castle’s (school) mailing address is Kimbolton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE28 OEA.

Other Places To Visit Near Kimbolton Castle

Apart from Kimbolton Castle, the attractive village of Kimbolton has a vast array of tourist destinations.

Here are some of the best places to visit near Kimbolton Castle:

St Andrew’s Church, Kimbolton

Located on Thrapston Road, Kimbolton is the historic St Andrew’s Church. The church is on the opposite end of the Castle’s entrance. The 13th-century building is the only English church with the works of Louis Tiffany, a renowned American Designer.

St Andrew’s Church stands on the site believed to have had a simple wooden sanctuary before the Norman Invasion. The 13th-century church was probably rebuilt using stone during the Norman era.

Fascinating historical features of the present church include monuments and stained glass dedicated to the Montagu family and the Dukes of Manchester. There are also carved roof bosses featuring decorations of Biblical figures and a combination of flower, mermaid, rosette, plants, animal, and human figure symbols.

Wyboston Lakes Resort

If you’re looking for a family-friendly place to unwind and have fun in Kimbolton, Wyboston Lakes Resort is a must-visit. The resort, featuring a Ride Leisure and an Aqua Park, is situated on Great North Road, Wyboston in Bedfordshire.

At Ride Leisure, you will enjoy breath-taking activities, including jet-skiing, jet riding, and combo activities. You can also take a flight on JetLev or a ride on a hovercraft.

The Aqua Park entails exciting features such as slides, trampolines, balance beams, and swings. It’s ideal for family getaways and corporate team-building.

Visitors can also enjoy spa services, food, drinks, and accommodation at the resort.

The Manor, Hemingford Grey

Built over 900 years ago, The Manor, Hemingford Grey is a famous historic building. It’s one of the oldest buildings in Britain that have continuously been inhabited. The house is also renowned for being the residence of Green Knowe in Lucy Boston’s children’s classic books.

After buying the house in 1939, Lucy Boston restored it to its initial Norman setting. The Manor has retained almost all its structures to date and offers visitors a charming historic atmosphere.

Apart from the house, the Manor entails a beautiful tranquil garden. The garden contains old cottages and rare plants. It’s well-maintained throughout the year, offering a peaceful and relaxing ambience.

The Cromwell Museum, Huntingdon

Located on Oliver Cromwell’s former school, Huntingdon Grammar School, The Cromwell Museum, Huntingdon holds a rich and intriguing history.

The museum comprises collections of items that tell the story of this famous character. It has a public display of over 800 items, including clothing, portraits, miniatures, historical documents, arms and armours, his hat, and copies of Cromwell’s death masks.

Oliver Cromwell’s story involves his early years as a schoolboy and participation in politics and the military. The displays also reflect Cromwell’s legacy and impact on the region’s present times. Moreover, the museum holds a collection of local talent, including drawings and cartoons.

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