The thumbnails below are linked to larger pictures
The earliest parts of the castle were built in stone by a Norman Baron some time after the Norman Conquest in 1119 and it became a property of the Crown from 1278 until 1552, being enriched and cherished by a succession of Kings. These included Edward I, Henry IV through to Henry VIII.
After ceasing to be a royal home, the castle was owned privately by three famous families, the St Legers, the Culpeppers and the Fairfaxes, followed by the Wykeham Martins who owned the castle for just over a century. Finally in 1926 it was bought by the Hon Mrs Wilson Filmer (later the Hon Olive Lady Baillie), a wealthy Anglo-American heiress, who had a lifelong love affair with the castle. On her death in 1974 Lady Baillie left the castle to the 'Leeds Castle Foundation' a charitable trust, set up to maintain the property as a "living castle" for all visitors worldwide to enjoy.
The interior of the castle reflects the rich and varied life of the building and includes the Norman Cellar, medieval Queens Rooms, The Fountain Court, Henry VIII Banqueting Hall, the Chapel established by Edward I and then through to the twentieth century and the influence that Lady Baillie had on the interior of this beautiful building. As well as her home it was a place of hospitality for leading politicians, royalty and film stars of the day.
There is much to see outside the Castle, including the Culpeper and Lady Baillie Gardens, The Wood Garden, Great Water Lake, Aviary, Vineyard, Dog Collar museum, Maze and Grotto, also a nine hole golf course, The Duckery and a Vineyard.
The Castle is located east of Maidstone in Kent, near exit 8 of the M20. It does make a rather grand day out.