Leeds Castle has been a Norman stronghold; the private property of six of England’s medieval queens; a palace used by Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon; a Jacobean country house; a Georgian mansion; an elegant early 20th century retreat for the influential and famous; and in the 21st century, it has become one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain.
The first stone castle was built by a Norman baron during the reign of William the Conqueror’s son Henry I, on an island in the River Len. In 1278, a century and a half later, it came into the possession of Queen Eleanor of Castile, first wife of Edward I.
For the next 300 years the castle remained a royal residence, before again becoming a private home. This in turn was handed down over four centuries, by both inheritance and purchase, through a network of interlinked families.
Discover the fascinating history of the Hon. Olive, Lady Baillie, the last private owner of the castle; a wealthy Anglo-American heiress who acquired Leeds Castle in 1926 when it was sold to pay death duties.
Today, the influence of Lady Baillie continues to bring the state rooms to life while visitors can see the effect of Medieval and Tudor periods in many of the other castle rooms
Tickets to Leeds Castle grant admission to the castle and grounds for one year from the date of purchase with the exception of special ticketed events. Some daytime events may incur a small additional charge.
The Knights’ Realm Playground
A huge adventure playground built entirely in wood.
Children can let off steam through a scale model of the castle, with opportunities to climb the Maiden’s Tower, scale the Revetment Wall, joust along an aerial runway, cross the perilous bridge between the New Castle and Gloriette and explore the Secret Tunnels. Slides, bash bags and rope walkways add to the fun.
The Knights’ Realm has been carefully constructed to offer thrills and challenges for visitors aged 5 and over, while meeting rigorous health and safety standards (ROSPA certified).
Toddlers’ Play Area
Younger children need not miss out while their older siblings have all the fun. The Toddlers’ Play Area close by is designed for under 5’s. So, too, is the Turf Maze where youngsters can follow circles of turf leading to a small wooden castle in its centre.
Parental supervision is required in all play areas, and there’s plenty of seating for adults.
The Maze and Grotto
Lose yourself in the spiraling yew maze, and return to civilisation through an underworld grotto, complete with macabre forms and mythical beasts created from shells, minerals and wood.
The maze consists of 2400 yew trees and when viewed from the centre, part of its plan mirrors a queen’s crown.
The Turf Maze
Located above the top of the Great Water and close to the children’s play area, the Turf Maze was designed for younger children, the circles of turf lead to a small wooden castle in the maze centre and mirror those of a silver rosewater container, which can be found in the castle’s Heraldry Room.
Park and Gardens
During your visit to Leeds Castle, enjoy the fresh air and stroll through the beautiful
grounds of the park estate.
The Cascade Garden
The garden that gives you your first view of Leeds Castle, with its beautiful water cascade falling from the Cedar Pond. In 2010 the 70 Gurkha Field Support Squadron QGE restored the bridge, situated across the Cascade Garden Pond, to provide visitors with beautiful views over the pond and the original pleasure gardens on either side.
The Wood Garden
In spring, the Wood Garden alongside the River Len is a particularly lovely way to approach the castle. Its carpet of Daffodils, Narcissi and Anemones presents a vibrant burst of colour. Later in the year, the visitor is treated to the splendor of Azaleas and Rhododendrons.
The Culpeper Garden
Named after the family who owned Leeds Castle in the 17th century; the Culpeper Garden was originally the site of the castle’s kitchen garden.
During Lady Baillie’s ownership it became a cut flower garden, but in 1980 garden designer Russell Page transformed it into a large cottage garden.
With its informal layout and low box hedges as a border this very English garden features Roses, Lupins, Poppies and Lads’ Love, with exotic blooms mixed in to create a profusion of colour and scent.
The Lady Baillie Garden
Designed by the landscape architect, Christopher Carter, on the site of Lady Baillie’s original aviary the garden is a favourite destination for visitors to the castle. With its south facing aspect and Mediterranean style, visitors can relax and enjoy superb views across the Great Water.
Other attractions include The Dog Collar Museum as well as regular events.