The UK has always left me in awe of its beauty. I have travelled for good 10 years in the UK; be it a small village, or a bustling city or even a Castle town. It has left me with nothing but memories to cherish for a lifetime.
When in love with something or someone; the first thing you do is to share it with everyone around you. Through this post I would like to take you on a small but interesting tour of one of the loveliest castle in the world.
This Castle has won me over with its charm, architecture, and aesthetics. This Castle has so much to display to visitors like us who want to be enchanted & entertained. Whether it’s The Castle or The Maze & Grotto or The Falconry or its Gardens & Grounds, each one has something unique to set it apart and make me want to stay longer. I hope you feel the same way as I do and put this place in your Bucket List when you visit The UK.
Leeds Castle as the name might suggest is not anywhere near the city of Leeds. Funny enough this Castle is located in County of Kent which is sometimes referred to as the Garden of England due to its orchards and abundant hop gardens.
So the castle should have been named as Kent Castle; isn’t it? The answer to this is simple; this castle was originally constructed in wood by the Saxon Baron Led our Leed in the year 857 AD and hence the name as Leeds Castle.
Over the period this castle saw many owners and hence there were many constructions and additions done to it. Even though this castle so many owners and as many changes in itself, one thing that was never compromised by any of the owners was the beauty of this Castle & its surroundings.
Brief History of the Castle:
The Royal Manor was originally built in 857AD by a Saxon royal family. The first stone castle was built after the Norman Conquest. In 1278 the Castle became a royal palace for Edward I and his Queen, Eleanor of Castile; this is when major improvements were made to the castle.
The Barbican, constructed during this time, is unique in that it is made up of three parts, each having its own entrance, drawbridge, gateway and portcullis. The castle today dates mostly from the 19th century and is built on islands in a lake formed by the River Len to the east of the village of Leeds in Maidstone.
During its lifetime, the castle has been home to six medieval queens – Eleanor, Isabella, Philippa of Hainhault (wife of Edward III), Joan of Navarre, Catherine de Valois and Catherine of Aragon. Elizabeth I was imprisoned here for some time before she was crowned as the Queen of England. Leeds Castle is often referred to as the “Castle of Queens, Queen of Castles”.
The most famous owner of this Castle 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.
This castle was also used to house French and Dutch prisoners of war. The last owner of Leeds Castle was the indomitable Lady Baillie who bought the castle in 1926. A French interior designer was appointed to transform her new home. She was responsible for setting up the Leeds Castle Foundation. The castle was finally opened to the public in 1976.
How to get here:
If you are coming by car; Leeds Castle is located 4 miles east of Maidstone, off Junction 8 of the M20 motorway, hardly 1¼ hours from London, 30 minutes from the Channel Tunnel and Channel Ports. If you are coming by train from London; there are train services to Bearsted Station. Southeastern runs frequent services to and from Bearsted and a coach shuttle service run by Spot Travel is available from the station from April to September.
Things to do at Leeds Castle:
It would be really unfair to say that to visit Leeds Castle you must be an avid History Lover. The Leeds Castle Foundation has opened up a plethora of activities and options for its visitors.
One can visit this castle any time of the year and can enjoy the tours of the Castle and have tour of the Gatehouse Exhibition which takes you on a fascinating 900 years of history of the castle along with original artefacts which date back as long as 300 years. Many old paintings depicting the historical events are on display here.
The Dog Collar Museum:
This museum has rare and antique dog collars used by various Royals of the British Empire. This collection has a whopping number of 130 rare & valuable dog collars. These dog collars are not just limited to England or The UK; many of the collars on display are from all over Europe.
Leeds Castle Golf Course:
If you are a golf lover and would fancy a game of golf then there is a 9 hole par 34, 2 Golf Course on a 2845 yard golf course built on a 500 acres of land. If you are a pro; you can engage in a game with your family & friends. Or if you are the one who has no golf skills; Golf Coaching is provided here.
Conferences & Corporate Meetings:
Its not just the weddings or the family outings that Leeds Castle hosts. If you wish to organise your Corporate meetings and your annual team conferences; then Leeds Castle has numerous venues where you can host such meetings along with Corporate Dining.
Now you can exchange your wedding vows at the most beautiful castle in the world. Leeds Castle by far is the most romantic place to hold your wedding celebrations. Leeds Castle has an incredible selection of award-winning and historic wedding venues to make your wedding day the most special day of your life.
So in totality Leeds Castle is not just any other Castle or a Historic Place where you go to witness the history and come back home. This place is a complete package deal where you can decide what sort of a day you want to engage with your family as per your needs and requirements. Words are falling short and word count is becoming a problem as I am trying to tell you all that Leeds Castle has to offer.
This is certainly one of the Must See Attractions in the UK and I would suggest that you do visit this place. Your day would be well spent with your loved ones.
Ameya Tarde, Travel Blogger