In the First World War Hartlebury Castle was converted into a Red Cross VAD Convalescent Hospital for the wounded. Some of them had been treated initially in Birmingham, at the First Southern General Hospital housed at the University. Run by two local sisters, the Misses Gibbons, the hospital was housed in the former stable block, the current County Museum offices.


Visitors Books begun by the sisters record messages, photos and miscellaneous memorabilia about life at the hospital. We have three Visitors Books which cover the duration of the war and the life of the hospital.


Each book is packed with photographs that document the faces and activities of the soldiers who were treated at the hospital. The photographs show daytrips to the surrounding area, fetes and gymkhanas held at the hospital, fancy dress and even hat trimming competitions.  


The messages recorded in the books document the soldiers’ names, regiments and often their injuries. They are positive, grateful and praising messages which suggest that Hartlebury was a pleasant place to recover and that excellent relationships were developed between staff and patients. One soldier writes “if I get wounded again [I hope] they will send me back to Hartlebury” and many other messages echo this.

Excerpt from a blog by Sarah Stretton, Skills for the Future Graduate Trainee at The Hurd Library and University of Worcester Research Collections.

Oct 262014

Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust (HCPT), with partners Worcestershire County Council (WCC) and Museums Worcestershire (MW), was recently awarded £5M by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to preserve Hartlebury Castle and its assets.

The Trust can now buy Hartlebury Castle and its surrounding 43 acres of parkland. We will work in partnerships with Worcestershire Country Council and Museums Worcestershire, who run the County museum based at Hartlebury Castle.

Together we will:

  • transform the current visitor experience by opening up the Bishop’s house, gardens and grounds as part of the visit,
  • improve facilities to better share the Castle, Hurd Library and gardens with existing and new visitors,
  • introduce compelling interpretation that tell the stories of Hartlebury Castle, Hurd Library and Worcestershire,
  • create opportunities for people to get involved through learning activities and heritage skills training,
  • provide volunteer opportunities for children and adults,
  • involve local communities and specialists in the site’s future,
  • develop a programme of events and activities to attract a wide range of audiences,
  • develop a sustainable business plan to manage Hartlebury.

Our project will:

  • Save Hartlebury Castle and its treasures for the nation by ensuring public access and beneficial management.
  • Restore and upgrade the Grade I Castle and the Grade II Stable Block for 21st century use including new lift access to all floors.
  • Restore key elements of the 18th century landscape that have got overgrown and neglected, especially around the Moat where the views from the Castle over the park will be opened up.
  • Create access through the grounds by means of a circular path around the estate and restore the 18th century gardens.
  • Transform the visitor experience by making the Castle a key feature of a visit to Hartlebury with its rooms displayed as they would have been when used by the Bishops.
  • Introduce a range of site specific imaginative and engaging interpretation to tell the stories of Hartlebury Castle’s heritage.
  • Maintain the Hurd Library in situ and increase access to and understanding of its collections.
  • Encourage participation by providing new volunteer facilities, training and support.
  • Improve visitor facilities such as increased car parking, a new accessible cafe, and an adventure playground.

The project will make the history, culture, beauty, and architectural significance of Hartlebury accessible for local people, visitors from the region, tourists to the area and researchers, national and international.

The whole project will take two and a half years. Architectural design work, early building work, and landscaping will take place in 2015. Building works and and garden restoration will continue through 2016. During this time tours and volunteering opportunities will continue to give access to the Castle, Hurd Library, and grounds. The Castle will formally open in its new form in June 2017.

Our aim is that in ten years Hartlebury Castle will once again be Worcestershire’s historical powerhouse.

Over the coming months we will provide updates on our progress and tell you more about our plans for Hartlebury Castle.


The Friends of Hartlebury Castle and the Hurd Library Annual General Meeting

Wednesday 12th November 2014

The Great Hall at Hartlebury Castle

7.30 p.m.

Iain Rutherford, Head of Cultural Services for Worcestershire will speak on the Museum’s exciting plans for the future following the Trust’s successful £5 million bid.

Followed by mince pies and the Friends’ famous mulled wine.

Please put the date in your diary and join us in our celebration!

Non-members welcome.

We look forward to seeing you – or please email apologies to Penny Greenwood.

The County Museum is the Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust’s partner in the HLF bid.


The Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust (HCPT), with partners Worcestershire County Council (WCC) and Museums Worcestershire (MW), have been awarded £5M by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to preserve the historic Castle and its valuable assets.

The Trust can now buy Hartlebury Castle with its surrounding 43 acres of parkland and embark on programmes for conservation and activities.
The Trust and Museums Worcestershire will make the Castle, Hurd Library, Collections of the Museum and Castle, as well as Gardens into an integrated visitor destination that will benefit the local area and serve as a major attraction for visitors from around the UK and beyond. This will continue a thousand years of public access to the former home of the Bishops of Worcester.

Detailed business, conservation and activities plans were developed with the help of a round one HLF award of £413,700 in support of the ongoing efforts to secure the future of this important heritage site.

Reyahn King, Head of HLF West Midlands said: “I’m very pleased that Heritage Lottery Fund is able to support this project with £5million of lottery player’s money. The purchase will ensure that Hartlebury Castle with its distinctive architecture and the Hurd library is saved for future generations. We applaud the Trust’s vision to welcome more visitors and bring the stories and site to life.”

Robert Greenwood, Chair and HLF project sponsor at HCPT commented: “We are delighted with this £5M award from HLF that together with the generosity of so many organizations, authorities and individuals who have pledged c£2.25M in matched funding, revenue support, individual gifts and time will now enable us to go ahead with our project.

For centuries, Hartlebury Castle was Worcestershire’s powerful centre of influence, and it’s great to know that we are now able to achieve the dream of the founder Trustees, members and volunteers”

Councillor Lucy Hodgson, Chairman of the Joint Museums Committee and County Council Cabinet Member for Localism and Communities, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with the Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust and Museums Worcestershire to secure the long-term future of this fabulous building steeped in the county’s history. We look forward to working as a partnership to deliver a first class visitor attraction which will be a wonderful asset to World Class Worcestershire.”

The Trust plans to complete the purchase from the Church Commissioners by early December this year and will be hosting a press conference on Wednesday 8th October at 9:30 am at the Castle, to reveal more details of its plans.

The Rt. Revd Dr. John Inge Bishop of Worcester said: “I am delighted that several years of anxiety about the future of the Castle and its great Library have been resolved so positively, and that HLF has been able to support the project so generously.  It is very good news for the people of Worcestershire and beyond. It the result of a great deal of hard work and constructive collaboration by the many friends of the Castle, the County Council and the Church Commissioners. I look forward to the next phase in the life of this great building: it will be an exciting one”.

Angela Brinton DL, President of the Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust said: “I am thrilled by this news.  The future of the Castle and its wonderful Library has been secured after a long period of doubt and anxiety.  The support of the HLF has been magnificent and we and our partners can ensure that Hartlebury Castle is established as a great resource for the people of Worcestershire and beyond”.

Rosemarie Jones, Deputy Surveyor for the Church Commissioners said: “The Church Commissioners welcome the news that The Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust (HCPT), and its partners can now buy Hartlebury Castle and its parkland.  We have worked closely with the Trust and are delighted that they have been awarded this grant which will enable them to take over the Castle, former home to the Bishop of Worcester, and work on plans to preserve the property for education and as a tourist attraction, open to all.”

Full Press Release


For prospective brides, grooms and their families.

Hartlebury Castle will be hosting its first ever Bridal Fashion Show on Sunday 28th September 2014.

The Show will form part of the Castle’s forthcoming autumn wedding fayre, which will take place in the former Bishop’s Palace and State Rooms from 11.00am to 3pm.

Bridal Fayre. More details.


Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust with support from partners Worcestershire County Council and Museums Worcestershire, submitted a round two bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund on Friday 20 June 2014.

The five volume detailed bid weighed 56 lbs (25kgm), it would have been twice that had it not been printed on both sides of each page!

If successful this bid will enable the Trust to buy the Hartlebury Castle with its surrounding 43 acres of parkland and embark on programs for conservation and activities.

Detailed business, conservation and activities plans have been developed with the help of a round one Heritage Lottery Fund award in support of the ongoing efforts to secure the future of this important heritage site.

The submission will now be scrutinised by Heritage Lottery Fund and its Trustees and they will announce their decision at the end of September. The Trust hopes then to complete the purchase from the Church Commissioners by the end of this year.


Consultation is taking place to gather feedback on our plans for the future development of Hartlebury Castle. It will enable our members, volunteers, local people, and others with links to the Castle and the County Museum to look at the emerging ideas for Hartlebury, to have their say, and to ask any questions they may have of our project team.

The consultation is being run by Morris Hargreaves McIntyre, a market research consultancy. Morris Hargreaves McIntyre has been commissioned by Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust and Museums Worcestershire to undertake research that will help support our Round II bid for to the Heritage Lottery Fund to acquire and improve Hartlebury Castle.

More on our plans.


News from the Worcestershire Historical Society –  a new book  publishes details of the moral and spiritual failings of Hartlebury folk!








Worcestershire Historical Society New Series Volume 24. Pp. 299, hardback. Maps, Photographs.

Expertly edited by the late James P. Toomey, the Household Account of the duke of York provides us with a detailed insight into life at Hanley Castle in the early 15th century. We learn what those who lived in the castle ate and drank, how they sourced their foodstuffs and other provisions, and how an upper-class household was run five centuries before ‘Downton Abbey’!

The Hartlebury Court Book has been edited by Robert N. Swanson, a leading authority on the late medieval church. It is the record of a church court, at which the moral and spiritual failings of Hartlebury folk (including absence from church on feast days, adultery and fornication), were judged and punished. The volume includes scholarly Introductions, Maps and full Indexes of names and subjects.

Price: £28.00  + p+p (£21 to members of the Worcestershire Historical Society)

To order a copy  contact the Society’s Publications Officer Robin Whittaker.

Jan 052014

“The Winter 2013 issue of History West Midlands, is entitled ‘The Word in the West Midlands’. It explores ways in which the word has been produced, transmitted and preserved throughout the West Midlands from the past to the present. It also looks at how observers or writers have portrayed the region in their writings.”

Please see link below for articles including a piece by Hartlebury Castle’s Hurd Librarian Chris Penney Richard Hurd: Bishop and Bibliophile


Working together

The latest Newsletter of the Friends of Hartlebury Castle and the Hurd Library shows how the trustees of Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust and the team at Museums Worcestershire, are consulting closely with the Friends on the future of the Castle.

The newsletter also provide details of three fundraising events at the Castle, a Quiz Night, 1000 Years of Christmas and our very popular Burns Night Supper. Also, the latest news from Chris Penney, the Hon Hurd Librarian.

And finally. A big Thank You to all the Friends volunteers.

FHCHL Newsletter 14 October 2013 FINAL

This document explains the relationship between the Friends and the Trust.

Friends HC&HL FAQs