Kimbolton Castle, originally a medieval castle, underwent many changes before the Great Rebuilding by Vanbrugh, Hawksmoor and Adam, as the country house of the Dukes of Manchester. The Castle’s most famous resident was Katharine of Aragon, who died here in 1536, and small sections of the Tudor house have survived. Although the Castle now belongs to Kimbolton School, visitors can still see the impressive range of State Rooms, with an outstanding set of murals by Pellegrini. A small Heritage Room houses displays on the Castle’s history. The Castle is set in extensive, wooded grounds, with pleasant walks.
Kimbolton formed part of the jointure of Queen Katherine of Arragon, after her divorce was effected. In 1534, when Henry VIII. was ridding himself of her, he first directed that she should go to the castle of Fotheringhay, in Northants ; but she objected on account of the malaria prevalent there, being in very weak health. So Kimbolton was chosen for her, where also the air was said to be noxious on account of the damp situation, and thither the poor ex-Queen was forcibly taken in the month of December. The castle is described as a very strong place in a cross-country valley, guarding the road between Bedford and Huntingdon; and here on January 7, 1535-6, little more than a year after her arrival, Katherine faded and died. The chamber in which she expired is shown in the castle; it is hung with tapestry which covers a little door leading to a closet, still called after the Queen, whose ghost is said to haunt the structure. One of her portmanteaux is shown also, covered with red velvet and having the letters K. R. with the Queen’s crown upon it.
There is a plot of ground about a mile W. of Kimbolton, called Castle Hill, where are the appearances of ancient buildings and the marks of ditches. (Castles Of England, Sir James D. Mackenzie, 1896)