Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle, four miles south east of Maidstone, Kent, England, dates back to 1119, though a manor house stood on the same site from the ninth century. The castle and grounds lie to the east of the village of Leeds, Kent, which should not be confused with the city of Leeds in West Yorkshire.


Built in 1119 by Robert de Crevecoeur to replace the earlier Saxon manor of Esledes, the castle became a royal palace for King Edward I of England and his queen, Eleanor of Castile in 1278. Major improvements were made during his time, including the Barbican, made up of three parts, each with its own entrance, drawbridge, gateway, and portcullis. The medieval keep is called the "Gloriette" in honour of Queen Eleanor.

In 1321, King Edward II besieged the castle after his queen was refused admission, and used ballistas, or springalds, to force its defenders to surrender. Richard II's first wife, Anne of Bohemia, spent the winter of 1381 at the Castle on her way to be married to the King, and in 1395, King Richard II received the French chronicler Jean Froissart there, as Froissart described in his "Chronicles".

Henry VIII transformed the castle for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and a painting commemorating his meeting with Francis I of France still hangs there. His daughter, Queen Elizabeth I was imprisoned in the castle for a time before her coronation.

The castle escaped destruction during the English Civil War because its owners, the Culpeper family, sided with the Parliamentarians. The last private owner of the castle was the Hon. Olive, Lady Baillie, a daughter of Almeric Paget, 1st Baron Queenborough, and his first wife, Pauline Payne Whitney, an American heiress. Lady Baillie bought the castle in 1926. She redecorated the interior, first working with the French architect and designer Armand-Albert Rateau (who also oversaw exterior alterations as well as added interior features such as a 16th-century-style carved-oak staircase) and then, later, with the Paris decorator Stéphane Boudin. Baillie established the Leeds Castle Foundation. The castle was opened to the public in 1976.

On 17 July 1978, the castle was the site of a meeting between the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan in preparation for the Camp David Accords.

In September 1999, Sir Elton John played two sold-out solo concerts in the grounds of Leeds Castle.

Key to the Castle Tickets

Every ticket purchased at Leeds Castle is a "Key to the Castle" ticket and is valid for unlimited use for an entire year from the date of purchase. This includes its host of daytime events, but excludes special ticket events & special evening events.

Ticket Prices [www.leeds-castle.com]
1st April 2008 - 31st March 2009

Adults: £15
Concessions: £12.50
Child (4-15): £9.50
Under 4s: FREE


Leeds Castle hosts a range of events throughout the year.

Key to the Castle Events 2008 [www.leeds-castle.com/events]

20 September - 21 September
"“Plant to Plate” Food Festival"

01 October - 05 October
"Autumn Gold Flower Festival"

25 October - 26 October
"Bird Weekend"

27 October - 31 October
"Half Term Magic Week"

22 November - 23 November
"Festive Fair"

01 December - 24 December
"Christmas at the Castle"

Special Ticketed Events 2008 [www.leeds-castle.com/events]

07 November
"Music & Light Firework Spectacular"

08 November - 09 November
"Legend of Exacalibur Firework Spectacular"


This castle and its grounds are now an important leisure destination in the county of Kent. The castle grounds has an aviary, a maze, a grotto, a golf course and what may be the world's only museum of dog collars. It also plays host to an annual hot air balloon display. The castle is available to host conferences. [ [http://www.leeds-castle.com/goto.php?ref=y&sess=u0|p192|n0|c0|s0|g1|d0&pg=Conferences_&_Banqueting= Leeds Castle - Conferences & Banqueting ] ]


The maze was constructed in 1988, using 2,400 yew trees. To the great disappointment of many who have heard that every maze can be solved by keeping your right (or left) hand on the wall while walking through (Wall Follower), the Leeds Castle Maze proves that belief wrong, because not all of the 'walls' are connected. Thus, using the Wall Follower method, the visitor is led in a circle but will not reach the exit, which is located beneath a small lookout in the centre of the maze. You can find a [http://www.langer.ws/leeds_castle_maze_solution.jpgsolution to the maze here] . There is more than one solution, though.


*The castle was used as the location for Chalfont, the family home of the d'Ascoynes, in the film "Kind Hearts and Coronets" (1949) [http://www.movie-locations.com/movies/k/kindhearts.html] .
*Because of Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, there is a sundial at Fairfax, Virginia, telling the time in Leeds Castle, and a sundial at Leeds Castle telling the time in Virginia. [http://academics.vmi.edu/english/englandtrip/2002/2002-index.html]
*The Doctor Who episode The Androids of Tara was filmed at the castle [http://www.doctorwholocations.net/locations/leedscastle] .
*The Magnum, PI episode Deja Vu was filmed at Leeds Castle (http://magnum-mania.com/Episodes/Season6/Deja_Vu_1.html)
*On Friday 15 February 2008 the Chris Moyles Show was broadcast live from Leeds Castle.
*On Thursday 3 July 2008 the Antiques Roadshow recorded two of its episodes on the Croquet Lawn at Leeds Castle, Fiona Bruce presented the show.

External links

* [http://www.leeds-castle.com/ Leeds Castle]
* [http://www.britishtours.com/360/leedscastle.html Leeds Castle Exterior] Quicktime Virtual Reality image of Leeds Castle
* [http://www.britishtours.com/360/leedscastlebanqueting.html Leeds Castle, Henry Vlll's Banqueting Hall] — Quicktime Virtual Reality inside the Castle
* [http://www.leedskent.org.uk/ Leeds Village Website]



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