Hartlebury, Worcestershire, DY11 7XZ. (Grid Ref: SO836712)
The original manor of Hartlebury was given to the Bishops of Worcester by King Burgred of Mercia in 854AD. By the 12th century an unfortified manor house with an accompanying chapel had been established. In 1255 Bishop Cantelupe began to fortify the building by surrounding it with a moat. This process was continued by his successor Bishop Gifford who obtained a license to crenellate the building in 1288.
Hartlebury has been used as the primary residence of the Bishops of Worcester since the mid 16th century and during the Civil War the castle was used as a garrison for 120 of the King's soldiers, who were housed in the Great Hall. After a two-day siege in 1646 the troops surrendered to Parliamentarian forces. Some parts of the castle were then slighted, other areas were used to hold Royalist prisoners.
The Bishops returned towards the end of the 17th century, and each occupant made efforts to improve what had by then become a Bishop's Palace. The north wing was added, small lodges were built either side of the main entrance gates, the stables and coach house were built and the Saloon was refurbished.
Over the centuries there have been many royal visitors at Hartlebury, including Edward I, Elizabeth I, George III and the present Queen.
Although the castle continued to be a home to Bishops some areas of the site were later given over for other uses - the south wing remained the residence of the Bishop of Worcester until 2007, with the coming of a new Bishop, Bishop Inge, the decision was made to move his home to the centre of Worcester, close to the Cathedral. The building which had originally been the stable block was used as a college of clergy in the early twentieth century and as a hospital for troops recovering from the horrors of the First World War. Today it is used as the visitor reception of the Museum.
In 1966 the north wing of the castle opened to the public as the Worcestershire County Museum. Outside is a small walled garden, transport gallery, cider mill and a nature reserve exploring over 1000 years of history.