Leeds Castle

 Leeds Castle

Location: 4 miles (6.5 km) Southeast of Maidstone, Kent  Map

Constructed: 1119

Tel. 01622 765400

Open: 10am- 5pm daily

Closed: for concerts, 25 December


Description of Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle is located 6.4 km southeast of Maidstone, Kent County, England, dating back to 1119 by the orders of Robert de Crevecoeur, although a manor house was in the same place in the ninth century. The castle and the grounds are to the east of the town of Leeds (Kent), in the county of Kent, not to be confused with the city of Leeds, in West Yorkshire.


Leeds Castle became a royal palace for King Edward I of England and his queen Leonor of Castile in 1278. The most important improvements occurred during that time, including addition of a barbican, formed by three parts, each with its own entrance, drawbridge, gate and gate. The keep is called Gloriette, in honor of Queen Leonor.

In 1321, King Edward II besieged the castle after the queen was not allowed to pass, and used crossbows to force his defenders to surrender. Ricardo II's first wife, Ana de Bohemia, spent the winter of 1381 there before marriage to the king, and in 1395, it was the stage where Ricardo II received the French chronicler Jean Froissart, as Froissart himself describes in his Chronicles. In 1278 English king Edward I bought Leeds citadel from the Crevecoeur family and made it his personal residence. In 1519 Henry VIII transformed the residence to his first wife Catherine of Aragon just before divorcing her to marry Ann Boleyn.


Leeds Castle escaped destruction during the English Civil War thanks to its owners, the Culpeper family, who allied themselves with Parliamentarians. The last private owner of the castle was the honorable Olive, Lady Baillie, a daughter of Almeric Paget, first baron of Queenborough, and his first wife Pauline Payne Whitney an American heiress. Lady Baille bought it in 1926. She redecorated the interior, first working with the French architect and designer Armand-Albert Rateau (who also supervised both exterior and interior touch-ups, such as a sixteenth-century oak-carved staircase) and later, with the Parisian decorator St├ęphane Boudin. Baillie created the "Castle Leeds Foundation". Leeds Castle opened to the public in 1976.

On July 17, 1978, the castle was the site of a meeting between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, which was a preparatory meeting for the Camp David Accords. In September of 1999, Sir Elton John offered two concerts on the grounds of Leeds Castle