A TRAGIC queen’s love letters, a Victorian pedometer and a long-lost Roman stone God previously thought missing for more than 100 years are all part of a new exhibition depicting the intriguing 1,000-year history of a Cotswolds castle once owned by members of the family who ran Worcester glove-making firm Dents.

The display at Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, is called Royal Sudeley 1,000, Trials, Triumphs and Treasures and includes a remarkable collection of priceless objects and curiosities.

The exhibition, which is now open to the public, also includes a one-of-a-kind, life-size glass-engraved portrait of Katherine Parr, the last of Henry VIII’s six wives whose remains are buried at the castle, by critically acclaimed artist John Hutton. The artwork was re-discovered during the refurbishment of a holiday cottage on the estate, where it had been for decades.

Numerous other items of historic significance are also on display, such as a lock of Katherine Parr’s hair, her prayer book and an intricate lace christening canopy believed to have been worked on by Anne Boleyn for the christening of her daughter, Elizabeth I.

The castle’s exhibition rooms have been completely refurbished for 2018 and general manager of Sudeley Wendy Walton said: “The exhibition really brings Sudeley’s history to life. It is the biggest refurbishment the castle has seen for more than 20 years and we have worked with a specialist designer to ensure the exhibition is the best it possibly can be.

“It includes some previously unseen treasures as well as fascinating artefacts which have been on display before but which have been given a complete refresh – all telling the story of Sudeley’s colourful and eventful past.”

Wendy added: “To further enhance the visitor experience, we have used technology to create some impressive new features, such as an ‘invisible’ screen on which the ghostly image of Katherine Parr seems to appear and fade away before your eyes.”

The exhibition offers insights into the lives of Elizabeth, Lady Ashcombe, who has lived at Sudeley for 49 years, and her children Henry and Mollie. It includes a room devoted to their much-loved pet badger, Brock, who lived with the family in the late 60s and early 70s.

It also includes for the first time, objects brought into the collection by Lady Ashcombe’s second husband, Harry Ashcombe, whose grandmother, Alice Keppel, is represented by fascinating memorabilia from her relationship with Edward VII.

It has taken four months to put the exhibition together and Sudeley’s archivist Derek Maddock said: “It has been a huge undertaking but to see it now is marvellous. It really shows off Sudeley’s vast collection of artefacts in the best possible light.”

Among his favourite items in the exhibition is a bust of Eleanor Boteler, who lived at Sudeley and who is now believed to have been secretly married to Edward IV.

The Bohun Book of Hours, which consist of several works from varying dates bound together for Henry VIII, is also of huge historical significance. “It pre-dates the Black Death and is thought to be one of just six of its kind in the world,” Derek explains. “To have a book this rare in our collection is remarkable.”

He added: “We are also very fortunate to have been loaned a beautiful collection of gloves from the Dent glove museum, a great addition to the exhibition as the castle was restored thanks to the 19th century fortune made by the Dent brothers’ glove manufacturing.”

Dents was established in Worcester by John Dent in 1777 and became glove makers to the Royal Family – producing The Queen’s Coronation gloves more than 60 years ago, among many others. The firm still produces fine quality gloves at its current premises in Warminster, Wiltshire.

John and William Dent bought Sudleley Castle in 1837.