Leeds Castle, One of The World’s Most Romantic Castles

On 26 de May de 2014 by Sel

Leeds Castle – [photos] – in Kent, England, is one of the most beautiful places and scenery that I have been up to date, we are able to see, feel and listen the peaceful atmosphere. It has been called the "loveliest castle in the world" and “most romantic Britain castle” and certainly one of the most romantic castle in the world.

Gateway and Portcullis Castle Entrance

Leeds Castle's history includes romance and intrigue, conflict and majesty. Although Edward I, Edward III, Richard II, and Henry V all held court at Leeds Castle, it has long been known as a ladies' castle.

Leeds Castle's history includes romance and intrigue, conflict and majesty. Leeds Castle is a fairytale Castle!

Why is it called Leeds Castle? Leeds Castle in Kent (not Leeds) was built in 1119 as a Norman stronghold. There are various stories about why it was called Leeds castle but the truth is that no one really knows for sure, although it may have something to do with Ledian, the chief minister of King Ethelbert IV.

Leeds Castle (not near Leeds, West Yorkshire as you might think but in Kent) is situated 4 miles east of Maidstone, off Junction 8 of the M20 motorway, just 1¼ hour from London, 30 minutes from the Channel Tunnel and Channel Ports.

Leeds Castle is a fairytale Castle! Why the most romantic and loveliest castle? One of the histories is connected to King Edward I.

In 1278, Leeds Castle was deeded to King Edward I and his queen. 

Servants Medieval Houses

Edward adored Eleanor, the lovely Spanish princess who saved his life after he was struck by an assassin's poison arrow in Acre. Although he married her to protect the southern boundary of his French possessions in Gascony, he grew to love her deeply and deeded Leeds to her as a token of his devotion.

Eleanor died young and the heartbroken king was moved to write, "My harp is turned to mourning, in life I loved her dearly, nor can I cease to love her in death."

Edward dedicated a chantry in the chapel to the memory of his beloved Eleanor where mass was to be celebrated daily for her soul.

This was done for hundreds of years after his own death.

The Royal Manor was originally built in 857AD and owned by the Saxon royal family. After the Norman Conquest, work began on building the first stone castle on the site.

Security was the priority of Henry VIII

In 1278 the Castle became a royal palace for Edward I and his Queen, Eleanor of Castile. Major improvements were made to the castle during the reign of Edward I. 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 medieval Keep, incorporating the Great Hall, is called the Gloriette, in honour of Queen Eleanor.

In 1321, King Edward II gave the castle to his Royal Steward. When Edwards' Queen Isabella arrived at the Castle seeking shelter however, she was refused admission and even fired upon by archers. Edward II was not amused and successfully laid siege to the castle. Six years later Edward was murdered but Queen Isabella kept the castle until she died in 1358.

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 (wife of Henry VIII). Elizabeth I was imprisoned here for a time before her coronation. This is the reason Leeds Castle is often referred to as the "Castle of Queens, Queen of Castles".

Henry VIII, perhaps the most famous of all royal owners, was responsible for much of Leeds Castle’s splendor, who transformed the castle for his wife, Catherine of Aragon. He spent lavishly to transform the castle from a rugged fortress into a royal palace. The Henry VIII Banqueting Hall bears testament to this reconstruction, and retains features dating from 1517.

Purchased by the Culpeper family the castle avoided destruction during the Civil War as the Culpeper family sided with the Parliamentarians. Later the castle was 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 and employed French interior designers to transform her new home. She dedicated most of her life to the improvement of the Castle and was responsible for setting up the Leeds Castle Foundation. The Castle was opened to the public in 1976.

Today, visitors come from all around the world to view this amazing castle. The maze is particularly popular with the secret grotto at the centre.

The Maze - A Labyrinth with a grotto in the centre!

The Queen’s Bedroom and Bathroom at Leeds Castle are reconstructions of chambers used by Catherine de Valois [1401 – 1437], wife of Henry V, who stayed at Leeds Castle on many occasions. Brought by him from France as a young bride, she was widowed by the age of 22. When a secret affair with the commoner Owen Tudor was revealed in subsequent years, scandal ensued. Nonetheless, the two had four sons, one of whom fathered King Henry VII.

Lady Baillie Buys Leeds Castle. The last owner of Leeds Castle, Lady Baillie was an American-born heiress to the Whitney fortune. She purchased the castle in 1926 for $873,000, beating out Randolph Hearst, the newspaper tycoon, as high bidder.

Lady Baillie devoted the rest of her life to restoring the Norman castle. And she brought Hollywood glamour to the surroundings. A society hostess, Lady Baillie's guests included Jimmy Stewart, Errol Flynn, and Charlie Chaplin.

When Lady Baillie died in 1974, she left Leeds Castle to a charitable trust which ensures its enjoyment by the public and also promotes the castle for weddings and national and international seminars.

In addition to the castle itself, you’ll be able also to see:

The Maze: Planted with 2,400 yew trees in 1988, the maze at Leeds Castle challenges visitors to reach the panoramic central viewing point. No need to fear getting lost; staffers perched high in the center help to guide the direction-impaired through this topiary castle.

The Castle has its own vineyard!

You'll find there rare species of animals as such as Albino Peacock's and red squirrels.The Aviary: More than 100 species of rare and colorful birds including macaws, cockatoos, and toucans are housed free in the outdoor aviary.

The Dog Collar Museum: Certainly one of the world's most unusual collections, the Dog Collar Museum displays nearly 100 antique dog collars spanning five centuries. Collars dating from the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries were designed to protect a dog during a time when wolves, bears, and wild boar roamed the forests of Europe and the vulnerable throats of hunting dogs needed protection with broad iron collars bristling with fearsome spikes. The Dog Collar Museum also houses Leeds Castle's small gift shop.

local trees arrangements, live fencing

Culpeper Garden – This quintessential English garden features neat box hedges enclosing traditional colorful perennials and fragrant annuals such as roses, pinks, lupins, and poppies.