Leeds Castle

What to expect when visiting Leeds Castle, history and tours from London

Leeds Castle
The Loveliest Castle in the World - Leeds Castle

About Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle is about 40 miles south east of central London, conveniently situated by a junction of the London to Dover motorway. Leeds Castle itself is comparatively small and for many people touring inside Leeds Castle will only form a minor part of the visit overall.

Much of the attraction of Leeds Castle is its setting and grounds. Described by picture postcard historian Lord Conway in 1913 as “The loveliest castle in the world,” Leeds Castle is set on two islands and has been home to royalty, lords, and ladies for over a 1000 years.

You can visit Leeds Castle on a tour from London, giving you private entry to the castle, before it opens to the public.

A great day out with the kids

Leeds Castle boat on river
Relax on the river at Leeds Castle

Unlike many castles like Windsor with its emphasis on a 'serious' tour of history and royalty, Leeds Castle is more informal and more set up for a longer visit with much emphasis on keeping the kids happy.

The extensive grounds has many walks, there is a large aviary, falconry displays, a maze, vineyard, golf course and much else. An ideal place to bring a picnic.

The maze was planted in 1988 with 2,400 yew trees. When viewed from the centre, part of its plan mirrors a queen’s crown.

Buzzards, eagles, falcons, hawks, vultures and owls delight visitors with displays by castle falconers Leigh and Jo Holmes. Audience participation is high, particularly for youngsters.

Visiting Leeds Castle

London tour bus at Leeds Castle
Your tour coach will drop you a little way from the main entrance

The admission gates are some distance from the castle itself, you cannot see Leeds Castle until you are well within the grounds.

Tickets to Leeds Castle grant admission to the castle and grounds for one year from the date of purchase with the exception of evening ticketed events.

Unlike a lot of castles and attractions nowadays, an audio guide comes as a supplement, not with admission.

If you find walking a mile a problem or you are short on time then small carts will ferry you to the castle. But it is well worth making the walk if you can, descending down to the lake. Leeds Castle slowly appears ahead of you.

For more information on events and what you will see you can also visit the Leeds Castle - official website.

If you decide to take a tour from London to visit Leeds Castle, the coach will drop you just a little way from the main entrance.

Visiting Leeds Castle on a short private visit

The ticket prices and varied visitor attractions go far beyond the Leeds Castle. For most visitors to Leeds Castle the visit to Leeds Castle itself is a relatively minor part of the visit.

If your main reason to visit Leeds Castle is to see the castle itself then you might want to consider the tour below, which includes a private viewing before Leeds Castle opens to the public.



Leeds, Canterbury, Dover and Greenwich tour

Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, Dover & Greenwich (small group)

Adult £149

• Private visit Leeds Castle before opens to public • Entrance to Canterbury Cathedral • Thames River Cruise from Greenwich to Embankment Pier • Walking tour of Greenwich • Professional guide • Transportation by luxury air-conditioned coach with free Wi-Fi

The history of Leeds Castle

View from window of Leeds Castle
Epic views from Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle
Beautiful Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle has an interesting and fascinating history. It dates back to 1119, though a manor house stood on the same site from the 9th century.

A castle fit for a royal...

Leeds Castle passed into royal hands in 1278 and became part of the Queen of England’s dower - the settlement widowed queens received upon the death of their husbands.

Over the course of 150 years it was held by six medieval queens: Eleanor of Castle; Margaret of France; Isabella of France, Joan of Navarre; Anne of Bohemia and Catherine de Valois.

Tudor dynasties

In Tudor times Henry VIII visited frequently, notably with his Queen, Catherine of Aragon, and their entire court on the way to the tournament of the Field of the Cloth of Gold, which took place in France in 1520.

Henry’s son, King Edward VI, granted the castle to one of Henry’s courtiers for his services. Since then it has been in private ownership.

The roaring twenties

It was in 1926 that Olive Wilson Filmer, later to become Lady Baillie, followed in the footsteps of six of England's medieval queens and fell under the magic spell of Leeds Castle.

A restoration dream

Once the sale was finalised, Olive set about her goal of restoring the moated castle and grounds. Her dream was to create a largely medieval castle and turn the castle's Gloriette into a French Gothic fantasy.

A gift to the nation

Lady Baillie spent her latter years with her family and continued to beautify the Castle. On her death, in 1974, she bequeathed Leeds Castle to the nation in perpetuity under the charitable trust of the Leeds Castle Foundation.




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