The Leeds Castle is one of the most romantic places in England. If you are in England for your honeymoon, you should never miss this place. Located about four miles south east of Maidstone, Kent, Leeds Castle is truly a remnant of a romantic era with its scenic surroundings. Moreover, Leeds Castle has a long history of royal romance throughout the years. Kings and Queens came to live in this castle and made this place their home.
Royal History Of Leeds Castle
The history of Leeds Castle dates back to the tenth century. Robert de Crevecoeur built this castle in 1119 to replace the Saxon manor Esledes. In 1278, King Edward I of England came to this place with his wife, Eleanor of Castile and they both fell in love with the place. From then on Leeds Castle became the royal palace for King Edward I of England and Queen Eleanor. To suit the needs of the King and Queen, major improvements were made on the castle.
The Barbican which is made up of three parts was constructed. The drawbridge, the gateway and the portcullis were also added to the castle. In honor of Queen Eleanor, the keep of the castle was called “Gloriette”.
The most colorful phase of the existence of Leeds Castle happened sometime in the year 1321. During this year, King Edward II, angered by the fact that his queen was refused entry to Leeds Castle ordered his men to attack the castle and force its gates open. He used ballistas or springalds to force the people inside the castle to open the gates and give him and his men free access. Many historians believed that King Edward II mercilessly executed most of the people whom he though dishonored his queen by refusing her entry to the castle.
Among the long line of royalties that came to stay at Leeds Castle was Richard II’s first wife Anne of Bohemia. On her way to marry the King, she spent the winter in the castle. It is said that the King and Queen often come to the castle to spend some quite time together. Apparently, the King loved this castle and conducted some of his business in this place. Records show that King Richard II received the chronicler Jean Froissart at Leeds Castle.
During the reign of King Henry VIII, the castle again underwent some major transformation. The King wanted the castle to look beautiful for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon so he made several alterations and additions to the place. It was not really unclear if he queen did spend a lot of her time at Leeds Castle but the Kings daughter, Queen Elizabeth I did spend sometime in this castle as a prisoner. Note that Elizabeth I became queen during the time when England was in turmoil. The Queen spent some time in prison before her coronation.
During the English civil war, the castle was one of the few structures that were speared from destruction. At that time, the owners of the castle, the Culpeper family took the side of the Parliamentarians so their properties were protected.
Transition Of Ownership
Although Leeds Castle traditionally been the home of the royal family of England, the castle was opened to the public in 1976 after each last private owner Lady Baillie set up the Leeds Castle Foundation. Lady Baillie bought the castle sometime in 1926 and made some improvements there in but later on, she saw the need to let the people have access to the history of the place. At present, the castle is one of the most well visited sites in all of England.