Leeds Castle, Kent, England
Leeds Castle, Kent, England

Leeds Castle is in the heart of Kent, about  five miles away from Maidstone and easily reached by train from London as well as by car from the Eurotunnel and Port of Dover. It describes itself as the “loveliest castle in the world”.

A manor was built  on the grounds in 879, but it wasn’t until 1119 that  the first castle was built from stone by Robert de Crevecoeur. In 1278, it  was bought by Queen Eleanor of Castile, who was married to King Edward I, beginning  the long period of royal ownership. King Edward was very fond of the castle and this meant that it was greatly enhanced during  this period. In particular the lake surrounding it was built. In 1321 the castle was captured by Edward II and it was passed down his family line. In 1382, King Richard II gave the castle to his first wife, Anne of Bohemia. However, in 1403, King Henry IV granted the castle to Queen Joan of Navarre, who gave it to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arudel, 11 years later.

In 1422, the long period of royal ownership of Leeds Castle reached an end with Queen Catherine de Valois who was the last monarch to personally own it. In 1517 improvements were made by King Henry VIII, and Leeds Castle was made into a  royal palace for Queen Catherine of Aragon. In 1552 Henry VIII granted the castle to Sir Anthony St. Leger to thank him for his work in the conciliation between England and Ireland. In 1618 the St. Leger family sold the castle to Sir Richard Smythe, who built a large house on the site of what is today the New Castle. In 1821, Fiennes Wykeham Martin inherited Leeds Castle and demolished this house to make way for the New Castle, which was built in a medieval style.

In 1924 the family had to sell the castle due to debts, and it was bought by Lady Baillie. Under her ownership the castle saw a complete restoration. Leeds Castle was an important place during the Second World War as it was used for a weapons development project, and was the location for wartime meetings. In 1974, Lady Baillie died and she left the role of preserving the castle and estate to the Leeds Castle Foundation. The castle  has hosted many talks between political leaders, including initial talks for the Camp David agreement in the late 1970s and a G8 summit in 2004. It was opened to the public to visit from 1976.

The castle is set in over 500 acres of land, including several gardens, childrens’ play areas, a golf course and a maze, which has a shell grotto in its centre. The grounds and moat are home to a range of wildlife, particularly birds, such as the famous black swans, peacocks and kingfishers. Another surprise isthe world’s only museum of dog collars and exhibitions about the castle’s history. You can also take a guided tour across the moat by wooden punt, or on a ferry boat.

lt  on the grounds in 879, but it wasn’t until 1119 that  the first castle was built from stone by Robert de Crevecoeur. In 1278, it  was bought by Queen Eleanor of Castile, who was married to King Edward I, beginning  the long period of royal ownership. King Edward was very fond of the castle and this meant that it was greatly enhanced during  this period. In particular the lake surrounding it was built. In 1321 the castle was captured by Edward II and it was passed down his family line. In 1382, King Richard II gave the castle to his first wife, Anne of Bohemia. However, in 1403, King Henry IV granted the castle to Queen Joan of Navarre, who gave it to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arudel, 11 years later.

In 1422, the long period of royal ownership of Leeds Castle reached an end with Queen Catherine de Valois who was the last monarch to personally own it. In 1517 improvements were made by King Henry VIII, and Leeds Castle was made into a  royal palace for Queen Catherine of Aragon. In 1552 Henry VIII granted the castle to Sir Anthony St. Leger to thank him for his work in the conciliation between England and Ireland. In 1618 the St. Leger family sold the castle to Sir Richard Smythe, who built a large house on the site of what is today the New Castle. In 1821, Fiennes Wykeham Martin inherited Leeds Castle and demolished this house to make way for the New Castle, which was built in a medieval style.

In 1924 the family had to sell the castle due to debts, and it was bought by Lady Baillie. Under her ownership the castle saw a complete restoration. Leeds Castle was an important place during the Second World War as it was used for a weapons development project, and was the location for wartime meetings. In 1974, Lady Baillie died and she left the role of preserving the castle and estate to the Leeds Castle Foundation. The castle  has hosted many talks between political leaders, including initial talks for the Camp David agreement in the late 1970s and a G8 summit in 2004. It was opened to the public to visit from 1976.

The castle is set in over 500 acres of land, including several gardens, childrens’ play areas, a golf course and a maze, which has a shell grotto in its centre. The grounds and moat are home to a range of wildlife, particularly birds, such as the famous black swans, peacocks and kingfishers. Another surprise is the world’s only museum of dog collars and exhibitions about the castle’s history. You can also take a guided tour across the moat by wooden punt, or on a ferry boat.

Leeds Castle, Kent, England
Leeds Castle, Kent, England
Leeds Castle, Kent, England
Leeds Castle, Kent, England
Leeds Castle, Kent, England
Leeds Castle, Kent, England
Leeds Castle, Kent, England
Leeds Castle, Kent, England
Leeds Castle, Kent, England
Leeds Castle, Kent, England
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Opening Hours

Monday:
10:00 - 16:30
Tuesday:
10:00 - 16:30
Wednesday:
10:00 - 16:30
Thursday:
10:00 - 16:30
Friday:
10:00 - 16:30
Saturday:
10:00 - 16:30
Sunday:
10:00 - 16:30

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