Leeds Castle in Kent, England is known as “the most beautiful palace in the world”. The palace, listed in the Book of Domesday, was a Norman castle, a royal residence, and a royal palace. Situated on two islands of spectacular lakes, its condition is quite impressive.
The Royal Manor was originally built in 857 AD and belonged to the Saxon royal family. After Norman’s conquest, construction began on the site of the first stone fortress.
In 1278, Castle became a royal palace. The palace was greatly improved during the reign of Edward I by Eleanor of Castile, Edward I, and his queen. The barbecue built during this period is unique in that it consists of three parts, each with its own entrances, drawers, gateways, and portico. The Great Hall, which includes the Central Hall in honor of Queen Eleanor, is called the Glorious.
In 1321, King Edward II gave the palace to his royal guardian. However, when Queen Edwards came to the palace to seek refuge with Queen Isabella, she refused to enter and was shot by archers. Edward II was not amused and successfully besieged the palace. Edward was assassinated six years later, but Queen Isabella kept the palace until her death in 1358.
The palace was inhabited during the lifetimes of six medieval queens, Eleanor, Isabella, Philip of Heinholt (wife of Edward III), Joan of Navarre, Catherine de Valois, and Catherine of Aragon. Elizabeth I was imprisoned here sometime before her coronation. Leeds Castle is often referred to as “Queen’s Castle, Castle Queen”.
Perhaps the most famous owner of the castle was King Henry VIII. Leeds Castle has a fascinating painting of the ‘Golden Cloth’, reminiscent of the meeting between King Henry VIII and King Francis I of France in 1520.
The palace, purchased by the Kulpaper family, was prevented from collapsing during the English Civil War because the Kulpaper family joined the parliamentarians. The palace was later used to house French and Dutch prisoners of war.
The final owner of Leeds Castle was Lady Bailey, who bought the palace in 1926 and hired French architects to transform her new home. She devoted most of her life to the development of the palace and was responsible for founding the Leeds Castle Foundation. In 1976 the palace was opened to the public.
Today, visitors from all over the world come to see more than 500 acres of landscaped gardens. Socks are especially popular with the secret grotto in the center. Stay overnight in the beautiful backdrop of Leeds Castle and enjoy a stroll through Castle grounds and parks. You can also enjoy bed and breakfast in the refurbished permanent courtyard bedrooms with a full English breakfast served on the oak beam of the 17th century Fairfax Hall restaurant. Or, you can experience the life of a pre-war medieval knight, something completely different.
You can have a unique holiday home experience for an even longer stay. There are five self-catering properties in the 500-acre park that can accommodate 2 to 10 people. Visitors can explore the grounds after visiting the palaces daily. Here you can enjoy exciting opportunities such as a 9-hole golf course, a hot air balloon flight, a Segway tour, or a ferry boat ride.