Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle, 4 miles (6.5 km) southeast 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, Kent, which should not be confused with the far bigger and better-known 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 in 1278 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. 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. 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. Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron was born at Leeds Castle. Consequently, there is a sundial at Fairfax, Virginia, telling the time in Leeds Castle, and a sundial at Leeds Castle telling the time in Virginia. 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 adding interior features such as a 16th century-style carved-oak staircase) and then, later, with the Paris decorator Stéphane Boudin. During WWII Lady Baillie hosted burned Commonwealth airmen at the castle as part of their recovery. Survivors remember the experience with fondness to this day. Upon her death in 1974, Lady Baillie left the castle to the Leeds Castle Foundation, a private charitable trust whose aim is to preserve the castle and grounds for the benefit of the public. 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.

This castle and its grounds are now a leisure destination in the county of Kent. The castle grounds have an aviary, a maze, a grotto, a golf course and what may be the world's only museum of dog collars. The castle is available to host conferences. Also seasonal hot air balloon flights are available at Leeds Castle.

The maze was constructed in 1988, using 2,400 yew trees. To the disappointment of some who use the technique of solving a maze by keeping one hand on a wall while walking through as a wall follower, the method fails at the Leeds Castle Maze, because not all 'walls' are connected.

Use in cinema, TV, radio and for concerts
  • The castle was used as the location for Chalfont, the family home of the d'Ascoynes, in the film Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
  • The 1978 Doctor Who serial The Androids of Tara was filmed at the castle.
  • In 1994, Neil Buchanan paints a knight on a billboard at Leeds Castle in an episode on Series 6.
  • The Magnum, P.I. episode "Deja Vu" was filmed at Leeds Castle
  • In September 1999, Sir Elton John played two sold-out solo concerts in the grounds of Leeds Castle.
  • Cliff Richard performed a series of live concerts here, as part of his series of shows entitled Castles in the Air, in 2004.
  • 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.
  • On Saturday 13 December 2008 and Tuesday 16 December 2008 the British movie "The Rapture" was filmed in the Maze at Leeds Castle.

Castle interior


9 photos

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