Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle is a pretty castle set in the wonderful Kent countryside. Often you can catch a glimpse of the castle from the M20 on the way to or from the English Channel crossing but it is certainly worth a visit.

Admission

There is an admission charge with a discount available for advance purchase on their web site.

The Castle

Inner Courtyard

There has been a castle on this site since 1119 but a large part of the castle was renovated in the 20th century by it's wealthy American owners. The castle is on an island in the middle of a man-made lake with gorgeous grounds all around.

Start of the castle tour

There is an audio guide which is highly recommended so you can look around instead of reading while you visit. The tour begins at the far end of the castle in the basement wine cellar which then takes you through the older parts of the castle before ending in the 20th century interiors towards the front.

Staircase

For such a small looking castle it certainly has a lot of rather spacious rooms and, of course, they have wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.

The Grounds

The grounds here are enormous so a picnic is very possible on the great lawn right at the lake looking towards the castle. There is a land train that will take you from the main entrance near the car parks to the castle otherwise the walk is 10-15 minutes at an easy stroll. For the children there is a large play area at the back of the site near the maze.

The Wood Garden

This is the first garden you pass through on the way to the castle and is known for it's abundance of birds. Make sure to purchase some bird feed to experience a bit of the movie “The Birds”…

Culpeper Garden

The formal “Culpepper” or kitchen garden is immediately beyond the modern restaurant complex and is well worth a visit. Beautiful lines and wonderfully tended plants.

Lady Baille Garden

The “Lady Baille” garden is right along the side of the lake beyond the castle and is quite wonderful - It is like you have found your own secluded area as many people overlook it. Full of exotic species this is a good place to find a place to sit and relax enjoying your surroundings.

Maze and Groto

The far side of the site has a number of attractions but the Maze and Groto are actually contemporary to the castle. If you make it through the hedge maze you are rewarded with access to the groto in tunnels below which are magical.

Spend some time here to admire the work that went into this…

Birds of Prey

“Birds of Prey” have a few shows every day in a field near the lake (to the right of the maze) but they also offer full-day “experiences” where you can be a handler of the many birds they have on show. You can always go and have a look at the birds in their cages behind the maze.

The Dark Sky

Not sure how long this will be in place but it is a large tent housing a “3D” experience telling the story of the 1415 battle at Agincourt where the English beat the French army despite overwhelming odds against them. Worth having a look and you can largely ignore the warnings of the staff about the violence being too much for children - Not any worse than what you see in the Lord of the Rings movies.

Facilities

The main cafeteria-style restaurant is the “Fairfax Restaurant” which overlooks the back of the castle (there is seating outside, recommended in sunny weather) which is reasonably priced and quite tasty. The “Castle View Restaurant” we did not visit but is a bit more upmarket and is open into the evening. In the same area of the two restaurants there is also a Costa Coffee if you want to have a drink or something light to eat. There is the “Maze Café and Grill” towards the back of the site beside the maze serving ice cream and light food such as sandwiches.

Getting There

The easiest way to get here is to drive. There are large car parks here (parking is free) so finding a spot should not be a problem, of course noting that nice summer days are likely to be very busy…It is possible, though not recommended, to get here by taking a bus from a local train station though check the Leeds Castle web site for details.

Further Information

For further information, please see: