Visiting England brings many memorable experiences. England is a country steeped in a rich and diverse history. England has experienced Civil War during The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors Many visitors find great pleasure in exploring the many castles that exist in England. Perhaps one of the most famous is Leeds Castle located in Kent. The castle is located 7.8km southeast of Maidstone to the south east of London. It is not to be confused with the city of Leeds.
The building of the original Saxon Fortress began many years ago in 857AD although this was a wooden manor house design with wooden palisades for protection. However its strategic importance was confirmed and the castle became a focal point for successive kings throughout English history.
The building of the stone castle, in the style of a Norman Donjon (donjon is a tower made from flint), started around 1119AD. This renovation included the addition of two towers along the perimeter. This style has unfortunately now degraded over time and is no longer present. King Edward I (who reigned from 1272-1307) instigated the construction of the now famous concentric castles. He made many alterations around 1278AD including the re-building of the shell keep called the Gloriette (from the French language meaning “little glory”).
The construction of the Barbican brought additional protection to Leeds castle. The Barbican was made of three parts, the drawbridge, a gateway and a portcullis. With the construction of an aqueduct in the basement it was possible to flood the Len Valley during times of siege. The aqueduct was an important defensive feature of Leeds Castle.
The castle escaped the onslaught of the English Civil War because its owners, the Culpeper family, remained loyal to the “Roundheads” or as they are more formally known the Parliamentarians. Not only does Leeds Castle offer an unprecedented history of monarchs and conflicts within English history but the castle boasts a myriad of fantastic entertainment for the whole family.
Amongst the idyllic parks and gardens a wonderfully delightful aviary of exotic birds can be found. One of the advantages of having so many birds on the castle grounds is that it allows for daily bird shows to take place. These shows feature storks, black kites, eagles as well as parrots normally associated with warmer climates.
To keep youngsters entertained a specially designed playground has been constructed. Segway tours are a great way to see the grounds and with a guide make a relaxing and effortless discovery of Leeds Castle. The grounds of the castle features both a hedge and turf maze for unlimited exploration. Shopping for gifts and a chance to take off in style with one of the many hot air balloon rides makes a welcome distraction.
Open-air theatre including the works of Jane Austen and Shakespeare add a cultural validity to this amazing castle. What better place to host jousting events and longbow practise for visitors than in the grounds. These historical events would have occurred on a daily basis in time gone past. Open air concerts set amongst the wonderful gardens features both classical music and contemporary big band music. The celebration of “Guy Fawkes” night on the 5th of November features a glorious display of fireworks. Indeed the castle is also amazingly well lit at night, revealing another aspect of the castle’s wonderful design.
A fantastical journey through the annals of time, a visit to Leeds Castle is both an enjoyable experience and a memorable event. With an event for every member of the family Leeds Castle really does have something for everybody. With very close transport links to the Capital London it is within easy reach and should not be missed.