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The Towers, comprising the Great Tower, walls and grounds, are all that remains of Buckden Palace which dates from 1479. The site of the Palace is over 900 years old and was identified in the Domesday Book of 1086 as belonging to the Bishop of Lincoln. The current Roman catholic Church of St Hugh, which is next to the Great Tower, takes its name from the great Hugh of Avalon who was Bishop of Lincoln from 1186 to 1200. Following a fire in 1291 the Palace was rebuilt and, after the annulment of Henry V111’s marriage, Katherine of Aragon was forced to stay in Buckden Palace in July 1533 for 10 months before she was moved to Kimbolton Castle. The palace continued to be used until the Civil War (1642-1651) when much of it was destroyed.
In 1837 Huntingdonshire was transferred to the diocese of Ely and the Towers, as it was now known, sold to James Marshall in 1870, who erected much of what we see now including the manor house. During the first World War it was a hospital and in 1956 the property passed to the Claretian Missionaries, a Roman Catholic religious order, who still owns it to this day.
Manor House, right
The Towers: Activities
The Great Tower was restored by the Claretian Missionaries in 1957 and again in 1996 and is used as accommodation for visitors to the Missionary. Other historical parts of the Towers are the Inner and Outer Gateways, Curtain Wall, Knot Garden and grounds.
The Outer Gateway and perimeter wall remain in almost original condition, with but minor modifications to the Gatekeeper's Lodge and the substitution of 19th century iron gates for the original oak pair. The Inner Gateway dates from 1494 and would have been the original entrance arch to the Palace after crossing a bridge and moat. The Curtain Wall connects the Gatehouse with the Great Tower and on the other side, the walled Knot Garden, recreated in 1992 and dedicated to Katherine of Aragon, which can be viewed by arrangement. In the grounds there are 17th century fishponds and a recreated 16th century orchard containing Mulberry, medlar, quince, apricot and peach trees, all of which would have existed in the Tudor period.
In 1975 The Friends of Buckden Towers trust was formed to preserve and raise funds for the Towers. Further information on their activities, a more detailed history and more pictures of the Towers can be found at www.friendsofbuckdentowers.co.uk
The Towers: Activities
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