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near Broomfield, Kent, England
Often mistaken for being in the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, Leeds Castle is situated four miles south of Maidstone, Kent in the south of England.
Set in 500 acres of parkland and beautiful gardens the renovated castle is accessed via a stone bridge across a moat. The site comprises of a medieval gatehouse, a Tudor tower, an elevated French gloriette or garden building and a two storey 19th century house extending out into the moat at the rear.
Open from 10am every day, there are a huge range of things for visitors to do from self guided audio or family audio tours; taking visitors through the castle's history from the servants eyes, to playing a round of golf at the 9 hole golf course or taking a balloon flight.
For a more sedate visit the Culpeper, Woodland and Mediterranean gardens with internationally renowned aviaries and free roaming birds are the place to visit for a quiet stroll. Get lost in the castle's yew maze or for the little ones a turf maze, visit the grotto, take the land train to various stops around the estate or visit the vineyard used to make the castle's very own vintage. The castle also has a restaurant and a number of the light refreshment kiosks around the estate as well as a shop selling souvenirs.
The castle is also licensed for civil wedding ceremonies, choose from the gatehouse, tower, dining room or library, the staff can arrange every detail for the special day including a stay in the castles luxurious bedrooms with four poster beds.
The first building on the site was a Saxon manor which was replaced in 1119 by Robert de Crevecoer. In 1278 the castle was transformed in to royal palace for King Edward I when a barbican with drawbridge, gateway and portcullis was added.
During the rein of Henry VIII the castle was again transformed for his first wife Catherine of Aragon and was the place where his daughter, Elizabeth I was imprisoned before being made Queen.
The Culpeper family were resident in the castle at the time of the Civil War and because they were parliamentarian sympathizers the castle did not sustain any damage. In 1926 the castle was purchased by the Honorable Lady Olive Baillie, she was responsible redesigning and decorating the interiors and having the castle totally renovated with French architects and designers.
In 1976 the Leeds Castle Foundation was established and the castle was opened to the public for the first time.
The castle grounds were the venue for two concerts by Sir Elton John in 1999.
Other Castles in the Area
Allington Castle, Kent
Bodiam Castle, East Sussex
Cooling Castle, Kent
Rochester Castle, Kent
Scotney Castle, Kent
Upnor Castle, Kent