Sunday, November 1, 2009

Leeds Castle

Leeds castle is one of the amazing castles in england.  This Castle set on two islands on the River Len in the heart of Kent, has been home to royalty, lords and ladies for over 1000 years . . .

Leeds Castle, four miles (6.5 km) southeast of Maidstone, Kent, England, dates back to 1119, though a manor house stood on the same site from the ninth century. The castle and grounds lie to the east of the village of Leeds, Kent, which should not be confused with the city of Leeds in West Yorkshire.

Leeds Castle was originally a manor of the Saxon royal family possibly as early as the reign of Ethelbert IV ( 856-860). The first castle was an earthwork enclosure whose wooden palisade was converted to stone and provided with two towers along the perimeter. This is now vanished. Traces of arches in a vault thought to be Norman were found at the beginning of this century.

Around 1119 Robert Crevecoeur started to build a stone castle on the site, establishing his donjon where the Gloriette now is. Stephen, Count of Blois, and his cousin the Empress Matilda contested the crown of England. In 1139 Matilda invaded England with the help of his brother Robert, Earl of Gloucester, who held Leeds castle, but Kent was loyal to king Stephen and following a short siege he took control of the castle.

The castle came into the possession of Edward I (1278) . He rebuilt much of the castle as it stood at the beginning of his reign, and enlarged it, providing an outer stone curtain round the edge of the larger island, with cylindrical open-backed  flanking towers and a square-plan water-gate on the south-east. The gatehouse at the south-west, a single tower pierced by an arched passage was improved.  Latter on, King Edward, the Confessor granted the manor to the powerful house of Godwin.

Henry VIII, the most famous of all the owners of Leeds Castles, expended large sums in enlarging and beautifying the whole range of buildings. At the same time, he carefully retained the defenses of the castle for he often had cause to fear invasion from either France or the Spanish . The king entrusted the work of alteration to his great friend Sir Henry Guidford.  Leeds has been constantly inhabited and rebuilt since then. Most of the castle today is the result of the nineteenth-century reconstruction and addition.

In 1926 Leeds was bought by the Hon. Mrs. Wilson-Filmer, known as Lady Baillie. Immediately she began the restoration of the castle that took her over 30 years to leave it as it stands today.

  • The castle was used as the location for Chalfont, the family home of the d'Ascoynes, in the film Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
  • Because of Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, there is a sundial at Fairfax, Virginia, telling the time in Leeds Castle, and a sundial at Leeds Castle telling the time in Virginia.
  • The 1978 Doctor Who serial The Androids of Tara was filmed at the castle.
  • The Magnum, PI episode Deja Vu was filmed at Leeds Castle
  • On Friday 15 February 2008the Chris Moyles Show was broadcast live from Leeds Castle.
  • On Thursday 3 July 2008 the Antiques Roadshow recorded two of its episodes on the Croquet Lawn at Leeds Castle, Fiona Bruce presented the show.
  • On Saturday 13 December 2008 and Tuesday 16 December 2008 the British movie - "The Rapture" was filmed in the Maze at Leeds Castle.

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