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Kimbolton Castle is a country house in Kimbolton, Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire. It was the final home of King Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Originally a medieval castle but converted into a stately palace, it was the family seat of the Dukes of Manchester from 1615 until 1950. It now houses Kimbolton School.

Kimbolton Castle
Kimbolton, Huntingdonshire
Kimbolton Castle 01.jpg
Kimbolton Castle
Kimbolton Castle is located in Cambridgeshire
Kimbolton Castle
Kimbolton Castle
Coordinates52°17′47″N 0°23′18″W / 52.2964°N 0.3884°W / 52.2964; -0.3884Coordinates: 52°17′47″N 0°23′18″W / 52.2964°N 0.3884°W / 52.2964; -0.3884
Grid referencegrid reference TL100677
TypeMotte-and-bailey converted into an 18th-century palace
Site information
ConditionUsed as a school


Norman castlesEdit

A wooden motte and bailey castle was built in Kimbolton, on a different site, in Norman times. Later, King John granted Geoffrey Fitz Peter, Earl of Essex permission to hold a fair and market in Kimbolton, as a consequence of which a market place was created, with the existing church at one end and a new castle at the other. Nothing of this castle (most likely a fortified manor house) remains, although it was built on the site of the present castle.

Tudor castleEdit

The castle went through various phases of ownership until, by the 1520s, it belonged to the Wingfield family. The medieval castle was rebuilt as a Tudor manor house, parts of which survive. Catherine of Aragon was sent here in April 1534 for refusing to give up her status or deny the validity of her marriage. The fenland climate damaged her health, and she died here in January 1536. Her body was carried in procession to the Peterborough Abbey (now Peterborough Cathedral). She is reputed to haunt the castle.

Earls and Dukes of ManchesterEdit

Kimbolton Castle in 1880. This illustration shows the present mansion as rebuilt between 1690 and 1720.

The castle was bought by Sir Henry Montagu, later 1st Earl of Manchester, in 1615. His descendants owned the castle for 335 years until it was sold in 1950.

Charles Edward Montagu, the 4th Earl who was created 1st Duke of Manchester in 1719, had many works of reconstruction carried out between 1690 and 1720. Sir John Vanbrugh and his assistant Nicholas Hawksmoor redesigned the facades of the castle in a classical style, but with battlements to evoke its history as a castle, the portico was later added by Alessandro Galilei. The Venetian painter Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini redecorated some of the reconstructed rooms in 1708, including the main staircase and the chapel. Rich, gilded furnishings in a Louis XIV-inspired style were commissioned from French upholsterers working in London.

For a later duke, Robert Adam produced plans for the castle gatehouse and other garden buildings, including an orangery. Only one of these buildings, the gatehouse, was constructed in around 1764. Mews buildings were added to provide stables, and an avenue of Giant Sequoias was planted in the 19th century.

Many members of the Montagu family (Earls and Dukes of Manchester of Kimbolton Castle) are buried at St Andrew’s Church in Kimbolton. Several Montagu monuments still exist in the South Chapel, while the Montagu vault (extended in 1853) is located beneath the North Chapel.[1]

The castle was used by the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War II. The 10th Duke of Manchester sold the contents in 1949, and the castle and 50 acres were sold to Kimbolton School in 1951.[2] There is limited public opening during the school holidays and at weekends.

Warren HouseEdit

On the grounds of the castle is Warren House, a former warrener's lodge converted into a late 18th-century folly on command of one of the castle's inhabitants to add interest to his horizon, complete with a single decorative facade facing the castle; it is grade II* listed and owned by the Landmark Trust. In 2011, the Trust started renovating the house, under a design from architect Oliver Caroe.[3][4] The renovation was completed in 2012.[5]


Kimbolton Castle is reported to be haunted by Catherine of Aragon who died there in 1536 after several years of imprisonment.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Guided Tour of St Andrew’s Church, Kimbolton, access date 27 July 2015
  2. ^ Scriven, Marcus (2009). Splendor and Squalor: The Disgrace and Disintegration of Three Aristocratic Dynasties. p. 163.
  3. ^ Landmark News, Spring 2011,, The Landmark Trust, p.6.
  4. ^ Landmark Trust: Warren House Archived January 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Landmark Trust: Overview
  6. ^ Britain Express

External linksEdit