Monday, March 21, 2011

Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle is a 12th century royal fortress located some 7.8 kilometers from the southeast of Maidstone, Kent, England but not technically located on the larger city of Leeds. Apart from any other castles in England, Leeds Castle echoed some of the most controversial periods in English royalty history. It became witnessed to several conflicts, wars and mixed memories.

It served as a royal palace to King Edward I and his first wife, Eleanor of Castile who made several improvements on the castle's features adding drawbridge, gateway and portcullis--a latticed gate made of wood or metal. After the King's death the castle was taken care by Lord Badlesmere. In 1321, the castle was captured by the forces of King Edward II after Lady Badlesmere refused to accept Edward's consort, Isabella of France, in the castle. Lady Badlesmere was imprisoned at the Tower of London for one year.

King Richard II's wife, Princess Anne of Bohemia, stayed at Leeds Castle before she married the King. King Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon made Leeds Castle as her home too and it was in Leeds Castle where Henry's daughter, Queen Elizabeth I was held prisoner before her coronation.

Unfortunately, the castle is not part of the crown properties because during the English Civil Wars where the Kingdom was under the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, the castle was acquired by one of its supporters, the Culpeper family. Since then, it passed to many owners until it was bought by Lady Baillie in 1926, daughter of Baron Queensborough. When she died in 1974, the castle was left under the care of the Leeds Castle Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Leeds aimed to protect medieval castles for the benefit of the public.

This iconic castle is one of the favorite venues for wedding ceremonies, film and TV show locations and concerts in Kent, England. Its magnificent environment, beautiful landscape, garden of flowers and plants, grotto and golf course attract hundreds of visitors annually.