- Location: Hollingbourne, Maidstone in Kent, England
- Attraction Type: Castle
- Significance: Discover the Leeds Castle’s eventful history with its blend of fine architecture and beautiful interiors
- Best Time To Visit: All year round
- How To Reach: Take a train from London Victoria train station to Maidstone, which is four miles from the castle.
- Nearest Airport: London Heathrow Airport
Since the year 1976, Leeds Castle has been open to the public and is managed by the Leeds Castle Foundation. This beautiful structure is situated not far from London on two islands in the middle of the River Len near Maidstone, Kent. The castle is perhaps the most endearing and romantic castles in England. Relive and explore the past by going back in time. Discover the Castle’s eventful history with its blend of fine architecture and beautiful interiors. You can also admire the panoramic views of the castle from above in a hot air balloon.
In 1978, the grounds of Leeds Castle hosted a meeting between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan.
History of Leeds Castle
The history of Leeds Castle Kent dates back to the 9th century when a Saxon lord built a manor on one of the islands on the River Len. Robert de Crevecoeur, a Norman nobleman, started constructing the stone structure in 1119. In 1278, this castle came into the hands of the English monarchy. King Edward I and his wife, Eleanor of Castille, made many additions to the Castle. Major improvements were made during his time giving it much of its present appearance. For the next three centuries, this fortress was an abode to many medieval queens of England.
One of the most famous residents of Leeds Castle was King Henry VIII. He made further additions to the structure, changing it from a fortress to a royal palace for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The castle was sold to Lady Baillie in 1926. It has had many lady owners, so it is sometimes referred to as the ‘Ladies Castle’.
Leeds Castle Tour
The interiors of the castle are lavish. The castle boasts of excellent furnishings and tapestries. It reflects the rich and varied life of the building, including the Norman Cellar, medieval Queens Rooms, The Fountain Court, Henry VIII Banqueting Hall, the Chapel established by Edward I and then through to the twentieth century and the influence that Lady Baillie had on the interior of this beautiful building. She transformed the interior, filling it with fine furniture, tapestries, and paintings. Apart from a dwelling place, it became a place of hospitality for royalty, politicians and film stars.
The Leeds Castle tour comprises of visiting the old keep, the Gloriette, named after Eleanor of Castille. If you are a dog lover, you will enjoy the world’s largest collection of antique dog collars which is housed in the Medieval Gate Tower. Outside, the Leeds Castle tour features the Culpepper Gardens. It is a classic English country garden.
The castle is also well known for its Aviary, which is home to many birds including black swans; woodland gardens; a grotto; vineyard; falconry; a yew-tree maze and a pay and play the public golf course.
This castle is used as a venue for many country events in Kent. The castle can be booked for conferences, weddings, and other private gatherings. On the first Saturday of every month, the castle hosts Kentish Evenings with a cocktail reception, a private Leeds Castle tour, and a five-course meal. During the month of June and July, Leeds Castle hosts open-air concerts, sporting music, and performances. There is a restaurant, tearoom, cafíé and outdoor kiosks available for refreshments.
Admission and Tickets of Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle remains open every day, year-round from 10 am to 5 pm. During winter (October to March), the castle closes early, around 3 pm. Admission for adults to the grounds and the castle is about $25 per person. Whereas admission to just the grounds is slightly cheaper. Family passes are also available. Every ticket purchased for entry to Leeds Castle is valid for unlimited use for an entire year (excluding special ticketed events).
Hotels and Accommodations near Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle is only 40 miles from London, therefore you can stay in London hotels also. There are many good hotels in Maidstone, including the Grangemoor, a large and luxurious hotel near the center of the town. Some more hotels in the area are Chilston Park Hotel – A Hand Picked Hotel, Holiday Inn Maidstone, Ramada Maidstone, Stone Court Hotel, Village Hotel Maidstone, Hilton Maidstone Hotel and more.