Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle – Kent

Described as the “most wonderful castle in the world”, Leeds Castle was a royal palace for three centuries. It stands on two islands within a lake surrounded by 200 hectares of peaceful gardens and landscaped parks. It is the perfect place for a family day trip.

Among all the castles in England, Leeds Castle, located in the county of Kent, is particularly worth seeing. According to historical data, the first fortress was built on this site in the middle of the 9th century. The first mentions of the castle that can be seen today date from the 11th century. The founder of the first castle on the Len River was a nobleman named Ledian, to whose honor the building was named. 

In 1278, a century and a half later, it came into the possession of Queen Eleanor, Mrs. Edwards I. For the next 300 years, the castle was a royal residence and part of the witchcraft of the English queens. In the Tudor period Henry VIII visited the castle regularly, with the whole court in 1520 on the way to peace negotiations with the French king Francis I on the so-called Filed of the Cloth of Gold.

For several centuries, the castle was considered a residence of the English queens. In the 14th century, the palace belonged to Queen Izabelle and later – Catherine of Aragon.

Henry’s son King Edward VI entrusted the Castle to one of the courtiers for his services. The castle was then privately owned by various families such as the Culpeppers, Fairfax and the Wykeham Martin family. They used it as a residence, but also as a garrison, prison or sanatorium.

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Leeds Castle – Panorama

Private property in XX. century

In 1926 the palace became the property of Lady Olive Bailey. The heir to a large fortune on the mother’s side and the daughter of an English lord was married three times. With her second husband Arthur Wilson Filmer, she bought Leeds Castle in 1926. She had the castle remodeled in accordance with modern requirements and filled it with art and antiques. The best engineers and designers in England worked on the interior of the palace. The castle surprises with luxury and the chic atmosphere. The castle of the rich lady who spent the last years of her life there and her family until 1974.

After her death in 1974, the castle became the property of the Leeds Castle Foundation, which looks after the maintenance of the site – a sum of £ 2.7 million a year is required.
The Castle now is a member of the Treasure Houses of England and is fully open to the public.

A tour of the halls and corridors of the palace gives a lot of unforgettable impressions. The guests of Leeds Castle can see a lot of interesting things.

In one of the castle halls there is a very unusual museum that presents the collection of ancient dog collars. In addition, the wonderful labyrinth of plants, which consists of 2.5 thousand yew trees, was laid out in the park on the palace territory. One of the most picturesque parts of the park is the outdoor enclosure with the exotic birds. At the moment, the palace is often used as the venue for the official events. The business meetings of the high-ranking individuals and the concerts of classical music take place there. The rich can also rent the castle for the banquet or wedding ceremony.

Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle – Aerial View

What is Leeds Castle famous for?

Perhaps the Castle’s most famous owner was King Henry VIII, who transformed the castle for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The stunning painting of the ‘Field of the Cloth of Gold’, which commemorates the meeting between King Henry VIII and the French King Francis I in 1520, hangs here at Leeds Castle.

In its long history, Leeds Castle was a Norman bulwark, the private residence of 6 medieval English queens (Eleanor of Castilla, Margaret of France, Isabella of France, Joan of Navarre, Anna of Bohemia and Katharina de Valois), a palace of Henry VIII and his first wife Katharina von Aragon, in Jacobean times a country house and a Georgian mansion.

Why is Leeds Castle not in Leeds?

It is so called because the village is on the hillside above the River Len, a tributary of the River Medway. An alternative explanation for the name is that it derived its name from Ledian, who built the first wooden fortress here in 978.

How much is entry to Leeds Castle?

Adults: 25.5 GBP
Children (4 to 15y.o.): 17.5 GPB
Once purchased, the tickets are valid all year round.

List of photos:

  • Leeds Castle Kent: Herry Lawford from Stockbridge, UK / CC BY
  • Panorama of Leeds Castle: Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier from Bruxelles, Belgium / CC BY-SA
  • LEEDS CASTLE (Kent) – Aerial photograph: Barbara van Cleve / CC BY-SA

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