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Penshurst Place or Aylesford Priory/Village?

Penshurst Place or Aylesford Priory/Village?

Old Mar 5th, 2018, 08:19 AM
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Penshurst Place or Aylesford Priory/Village?

When Leaving Hever Castle B&B for Leeds Castle B&B, we probably only have time for 1 stop, as we want to get to Leeds in time to walk around, and the Castle's last admission is 3.30pm.

So which should we do?
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 12:23 PM
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I cannot imagine you would not have time for both. They are both en route and Hever to Leeds Castle by way of both sites is barely a 90 minute drive (less than 1 hour without the two stops/slight detours)

Presumably you must leave Hever by 10 AM-ish and can't check in at Leeds until 3PM or later -- you have PLENTY of time for both.

Last edited by janisj; Mar 5th, 2018 at 12:25 PM.
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 03:02 PM
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Sorry, should have been given more details ~ Penshurst Gardens and Grounds open at 10:30, but the House doesn't open until 12 noon, we're planning an hour at the house.

So if we leave there at 1:00, go down the road to eat lunch, we don't leave the area until 2:00 or so, 1 hr to Leeds Castle we just barely get in before last admission at 3:30, so don't see how we can do both.

We are s-l-o-w tourists, I take lots of pictures, we're always checking out any big trees

Being at Leeds in time to walk around that afternoon is important (if the weather co-operates) as we were there once before but just made it before they closed.

And the following day we want to leave early for Canterbury

janisj have you been to Aylesford? The pictures of the village look pretty, but maybe just another pretty village, where Penshurst is more special ? Or not?

Maybe we "wing it" ~ go to Penshurst, and if time drive through Aylesford maybe a stop or two in town? Google Maps has us going right Aylesford on the way to Leeds, and not much more time to venture into the village
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 03:42 PM
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Leeds Castle isn't all that much -- the gardens/grounds are lovely but the bldg is primarily a wedding and conference venue. I'd rather do Aylesford than Leeds Castle (interior), and I'd rather do Penshurst (interior AND gardens) than Aylesford.

So play it by ear -- Do Penshurst and then if you are making good time drop in to Aylesford. If you are staying on site @ Leeds Castle -- don't you have full access to the gardens? The gardens are by far the the best part.
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 03:58 PM
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I agree with janisj for what’s it worth. No fan of Leeds Castle....beautiful on outside but disappointing on the inside and the whole thing reeks of commercialism without any redeeming qualities except for the exterior view. If you have to decide between Penshurst and Aylesford, I’d also go with Penshurst. Have you been to Ightham Mote, a 14th century manor house surrounded by a moat ( of course ? I’d prefer it over either Aylesford or Leeds Castle, but in the end, it’s your decision and if staying at Leeds Castle, the decision is obvious.
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 04:11 PM
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Leeds Castle is popular mainly IMO because of super good marketing - agree with the experts above about the interior - blah and even exterior to me not like I like in castles. There is a novel dog collar museum inside - indeed could be the interior's highlight!

One of three attractions inside the official site hypes -enough said:

https://www.leeds-castle.com/Attract...3B+Exhibitions

Long ago I led hundreds of Americans on bike trips that went right by Leeds so many went in and later said that was not their idea of a English castle.
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 04:38 PM
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To clarify a bit >>If you are staying on site @ Leeds Castle -- don't you have full access to the gardens?<<

Whenever I've stayed on site either inside an historic bldg or in the grounds of a stately home I've had free access/roaming in the grounds after the 'day trippers' are gone which is why I wouldn't worry about getting to Leeds early . . . UNLESS they play by different rules.
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 05:40 PM
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I guess Leeds is a little ambiguous ..................
"Please note that the Castle's last admission is 3.30pm during winter hours (until 31st March 2018) If you wish to visit the Castle on the day of your arrival please ensure you leave plenty of time to do this"
............. "Castle tickets are not required during your stay in the B&B facilities as you have complimentary access to the Castle during opening hours and the grounds at all times (subject to availability)"

The grounds are what we want to see, we missed that last time

So I think we will "wing it" ~ we will go to Penshurst, and if time drive through Aylesford, planning to be at Leeds Castle by 3:00

Thanks for all your input, as always invaluable!

PS Hi historytraveler we visit Ightham Mote on another day. if I ever get all the details done before we leave I will post the itinerary on my original thread South of London in March, ancient trees and Daffodils?
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 06:01 PM
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Doesn't seem ambiguous really. If you wish to visit the castle (go inside) you can only do that during normal open hours - so must arrive by 3:30. But the grounds are yours to explore at your leisure. So I wouldn't rush to get to Leeds by 3:00 or 3:30. You can wander the grounds all afternoon/early evening - Probably until dusk.
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 06:34 PM
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Actually viewing the grounds after the hoards have left is pretty much ideal
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 06:37 PM
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Sheesh, that’s hordes.
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Old Mar 6th, 2018, 02:59 AM
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I'm surprised by so many negative comments about the inside of Leeds Castle... I remember looking down onto Leeds Castle from the A20 on days out in the late 1950s and thinking that it was every child’s dream of what a medieval castle should look like. The castle was privately owned and very shut to visitors. By the time I eventually visited in 2016, it had a lot to live up to!

Was it worth the long wait - a resounding YES!

The grounds are superb as is the outside of the castle which has a long, illustrious history. It has been a Norman stronghold, the private property of six of England’s medieval queens, a palace used by Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, a Jacobean country house a Georgian mansion and finally an elegant early 20th century retreat for the influential and famous.

In the 1920s, it was acquired by the Anglo-American heiress the Hon. Olive Paget, then Mrs Wilson-Filmer, who was looking for a country retreat in Kent. She saw the castle’s potential and had the style, imagination and funds to carry out the necessary modifications. After her third marriage, when she became Lady Baillie, she decided to recreate a Gothic fantasy medieval castle, but with modern plumbing. What you see now is very much her vision.

A visit includes the C12th cellars, Queen’s room (recreated bedroom and ensuite bathroom of widow of Henry V), Henry VIII’s banqueting room and Chapel. The rooms used by LAdy Baillie include her French Regency style bedroom with dressing room and private bathroom. Back on the ground floor there is the lovely yellow drawing room, library and a really elegant dining room.

We were able to wander freely and I spent several hours enjoying the inside of the castle.
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Old Mar 6th, 2018, 04:31 AM
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Thanks wasleys, now I'm really curious!
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Old Mar 6th, 2018, 08:10 AM
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With regard to the castle itself, it is Ms Baillies’ recreation of a “ Gothic fantasy castle “ that bothers me the most. In fact some of her recreation hardly matches a Gothic castle much less an English castle. IMO, a case of someone that assumes taste is a natural result of wealth. Unfortunately, there was little consideration to historical accuracy when the castle was redone. There are many castles and homes through out England whose owners have spend considerable time and effort in retaining the authenticity and integrity of their family home. Not so with Hever. It’s too bad that it was not given to either the National Trust or English Heritage. The whole thing seems to be an effort in getting as much money off the tourist as possible. What next? A zip line, a animal petting zoo, an amusement park? Two examples of doing it correctly would be Highclere and Chatsworth House.
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Old Mar 6th, 2018, 08:36 AM
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wasleys: The Castle Grounds and views are wonderful. The inside has some interesting stuff -- but they will have already seen some amazing castles that have not been turned into conference centers and wedding venues and recreated fantasies. Yes there are interesting bits.
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Old Mar 6th, 2018, 01:35 PM
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<There are many castles and homes through out England whose owners have spend considerable time and effort in retaining the authenticity and integrity of their family home. Not so with Hever>

historytraveler weren't you talking about Leeds?
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Old Mar 6th, 2018, 01:38 PM
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Maistone near Leeds is an unheralded but to me really nice ordinary un-touristed regional town set on a rushing river.
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Old Mar 6th, 2018, 02:15 PM
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wernwood, not when I was referring to maintaining the authencity and integrity of the castle. It has been a few years since I last visited but remember standing in a room which the guide identified as Catherine of Aragon’s bedroom. Please know that the likelihood of it actually being her bedroom is remote. Historical documents regarding a castle seldom provide that sort of information. However, I could easily overlooked that bit of possible misinformation but standing in a room with white wallpaper strewn with sprigs of flowers with matching bedcovers and curtains made my jaw drop. Of course in reconstructing the interior of castle such as Leeds, one has several different centuries to choose from,unfortunately most of it reflects Ms. Baillies 20th century idea of what a castle should look like with a considerable nod to her London decorator, 20th century fashion and a highly personal agenda. I don’t recall all the rooms but the only part I enjoyed which was certainly authentic was the Linen paneling on the staircase.

It was Highclere and Chatsworth House ( among others ) where the owners have done IMO a wonderful job of keeping the integrity and historical aspects of the castle.The exterior of Leeds Castle is absolutely breathtaking. Probably the best in England, perhaps anywhere, but the 20th century renovations have squashed any charm and historical accuracy.

I will get off my bandwagon now. I am just disappointed that so much potential was lost and that such a beautiful castle has not been properly utilized. Then there’s the convention centre atmosphere, but that’s enough rant.
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Old Mar 6th, 2018, 02:28 PM
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Hever was significantly modified by W. W. Astor early in the 20th century so it isn't all that authentic (and it is also a conference centre BTW) -- but I still much prefer it to Leeds Castle.
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Old Mar 6th, 2018, 02:30 PM
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not properly utilized - maybe not as just another medieval catle but for owners a cash cow for sure with all that marketing for conventions, etc.
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