Fodor's Expert Review Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle Castle/Palace Fodor's Choice

Every inch the grand medieval castle, Leeds is more like a storybook illustration of what an English castle should look like, from the fortresslike exterior to the breathtaking rooms within. Ramparts and battlements? Check. Moat? Check. Ancient stone walkways on which you just know a knight in shining armor might pass by at any second? Pretty much.

Leeds—not to be confused with the city in the north of England; the name comes from its mention as "Esledes" (meaning "hill" or "slope") in the Domesday Book of 1086—has all this and more. One of England's finest castles, it commands two small islands on a peaceful lake. Dating to the 9th century and rebuilt by the Normans in 1119, the castle became a favorite home of many medieval English queens. Henry VIII liked it so much he had it converted from a fortress into a grand palace.

The interior doesn't match the glories of the much-photographed exterior, although there are fine paintings and furniture, including many pieces... READ MORE

Every inch the grand medieval castle, Leeds is more like a storybook illustration of what an English castle should look like, from the fortresslike exterior to the breathtaking rooms within. Ramparts and battlements? Check. Moat? Check. Ancient stone walkways on which you just know a knight in shining armor might pass by at any second? Pretty much.

Leeds—not to be confused with the city in the north of England; the name comes from its mention as "Esledes" (meaning "hill" or "slope") in the Domesday Book of 1086—has all this and more. One of England's finest castles, it commands two small islands on a peaceful lake. Dating to the 9th century and rebuilt by the Normans in 1119, the castle became a favorite home of many medieval English queens. Henry VIII liked it so much he had it converted from a fortress into a grand palace.

The interior doesn't match the glories of the much-photographed exterior, although there are fine paintings and furniture, including many pieces from the 20th-century refurbishment by the castle's last private owner, Lady Baillie. The outside attractions are more impressive and include a surprisingly tricky maze (made from 2,400 yew trees), which leads to an atmospheric rock-carved grotto, as well as two adventure playgrounds, an aviary of native and exotic birds, and woodland gardens. There are also several dining options, including the informal but excellent Castle View Restaurant (try the haddock-and-chips).

Leeds Castle is 12 miles southeast of Rochester, off the M20 highway. All tickets are valid for a year, in case you don't manage to see everything in one day.

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Castle/Palace Fodor's Choice

Quick Facts

Off A20
Maidstone, Kent  ME17 1PL, England

01622-765400

www.leeds-castle.com

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: £27

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