Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle, Kent, England Photo Tour

Leeds Castle, four miles east south east of Maidstone, Kent, England, dates back to 1119, though a manor house stood on the same site from the 9th century. The castle and grounds lie to the East of the village of Leeds, which should not be confused with the city of Leeds in Yorkshire.

In 1278, the castle became a royal palace for King Edward I of England and his queen, Eleanor of Castile. 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 honor 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. 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 Lady Baillie, who bought it in 1926. She redecorated the interior, working with the Paris decorator Stéphane Boudin. Baillie established the Leeds Castle Foundation. The castle was opened to the public in 1976.

On July 17, 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.

Leeds is the home of the black swans. They were a gift given to Winston Churchill after WWII. He sent them to Leeds to live. Their descendants are still there.

This castle and its grounds are now an important leisure destination in the county of Kent. The castle 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 was used as the location for Castle d’Ascoigne in the film movie Kind Hearts and Coronets] (1949).

Opening Times :Open every day of the year (except Christmas Day, Saturday
26th June and 3rd July prior to Open Air Concerts)
March to October :Park and Gardens 10.00am – 5.00pm* Castle 11.00am – 5.30pm* (Ticket Office closes at 5.00pm)
November to February :Park and Gardens 10.00am – 3.00pm*
Castle 10.15am – 3.30pm* (Ticket Office closes at 3.00pm) *Last Admissions. Park and Gardens close two hours after last admission.
How to Get to Leeds Castle : Leeds Castle is located 4 miles east of Maidstone on the A20
and M20, midway between London and the Channel ports, with excellent links to the motorway network.
By Car :Leeds Castle is located 4 miles east of Maidstone at junction 8 of the M20, midway between London (1¼ hours) and the Channel Ports. Channel Tunnel (½ hour). Dartford Crossing (½ hour). It is clearly signposted from all approaches with fast, easy access via the UK motorway network.
By Rail : An inclusive scheme combining rail travel, connecting coach transfers to and from Bearsted
Station and admission to Leeds Castle operates daily all year round on castle opens days. Eurostar
trains stop at Ashford International (20 mins)
Car Parking :With ample parking for cars and coaches and toilet facilities
throughout the estate, we’ve tried to make your visit to Leeds Castle as comfortable as possible.
Admission Rates for the Castle and Grounds :The following rates apply for entrance to the Castle and Grounds, from March 1st 1999 to February 29th 2000:
Single Adult : £9.30 Senior Citizens/Students : £7.30 Children aged 5-15 : £6.00 Disabled Adults : £4.30
Disabled Children : £3.10 Family ticket for 2 adults and up to 3 children : £25.00
Admission Rates for the Grounds Only : The following rates apply for entrance to the Grounds only, from March 1st 1999 to February 29th 2000: Single Adult : £7.30 Senior Citizens/Students : £5.80 Children aged 5-15 : £4.50 Disabled Adults : £3.30 Disabled Children : £2.10 Family ticket for 2 adults and up to 3 children : £20.00 Further information call 01622 765400 or fax 01622 735616

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