Leeds Castle Kent 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.
History of Leeds Castle Kent
King Henry VIII transformed the castle from a fortified stronghold to a magnificent royal palace. Between 1517-1523 on his orders, major alterations were made so that he and his first wife Catherine of Aragon, could visit the castle in comfort.
The end of the Tudor dynasty marked the beginning of private ownership for Leeds Castle. With no royal treasury to use for repairs and alterations, the fortunes of the Castle relied solely on the fortunes of the owners, which were varied.
The St. Leger family had acquired the castle in the 1550s and they retained it until 1618 when Warham St. Leger sold it to Sir Richard Smythe, in order to finance a voyage to Guyana with Sir Walter Raleigh.
Wildlife at Leeds Castle in Kent
There is an abundance of Wildlife to see throughout the 500 acre estate of Leeds Castle. Woodland, Parkland and large lakes, fed by the River Len, provide natural habitats attracting great numbers of wildfowl and common woodland birds all year round.
Wander through the estate and you are most likely to see familiar birds such as Nuthatch, Jay, Magpie, Wagtails and Great Spotted Woodpecker – if you are lucky you may even see a Sparrowhawk or a Buzzard soaring above. The River Len, which also runs throughout the Wood Garden, is home to Kingfishers, Grass Snakes and Eels.
The larger lakes provide shelter and food to flocks of Swans, Geese and Ducks and provide ideal breeding grounds in the spring and summer months. The Moat and Great Water are perfect places to see captive Black, Whooper and Trumpeter Swans all year round. Leeds Castle is also home to rarer species including Bats, Dormouse and White-Clawed Crayfish.
The Princess Alexandra Gardens 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 splendour of Azaleas.
A Bite to Eat
The oak-beamed setting of Castle View Restaurant offers delicious meals served in a relaxed atmosphere, enjoyed with spectacular views across the terrace to the magnificent Castle.
During the day, take time out from exploring the Castle and grounds to enjoy a light lunch or delicious homemade meal from a seasonal menu. Choose from hot or cold dishes, bursting with flavour and variety or indulge in a choice of cakes and desserts, produced by the dedicated pastry team.
To visit Leeds Castle in Kent by coach contact Holt Services