England is known for its historical castles, and what could be more regal than having the opportunity to spend the night in one? Leeds castle is one of the places where that dream of being royalty can come true, as you can stay overnight in the main castle…so obviously I jumped at the prospect of being able to pretend to be a Princess for the night.
History of Leeds Castle
So first thing first – Leeds castle isn’t in Leeds, it’s in Kent! This castle was originally built in Norman times and then became the private property of six of England’s medieval Queens . Henry VIII even came here with his first wife, Catherine of Aragon – and in 1520, it is here that he prepared for the famous Field of the Cloth of Gold meeting with Francois I of France.
Subsequent to that, Leeds Castle was a Jacobean country house; a Georgian mansion; an elegant early 20th century retreat for the influential and famous; and in the 21st century, it has become one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain.
What to do at Leeds Castle
It is easy to spend a day visiting the castle and everything it has to offer. The main draw is obviously the castle itself, so why not start with a walk around the lake to get some beautiful views of it.
After exploring the lake, there are also formal gardens to enjoy which are lovely for a stroll. Walking through the gardens also leads to a maze – this would be fun to complete but not in times of COVID where it’s on a one way system so you can’t even get lost!!!!!!!
Leeds Castle is also set in acres of woodland, so at this point a walk round some of the walking paths is a great option. We finished our walk off in the restaurant on site (there is also a cafe option) for some yummy lunch – everything from burgers to jacket potatoes are on offer.
After this, we then wanted to visit the museums on site. Interestingly, there is a dog collar museum but this wasn’t one for me – instead we chose to visit the Gatehouse exhibition which tells the story of the castle from Norman times to the present day. Visiting the wine cellars was one of my highlights.
After a busy day exploring the the castle grounds, it was time to settle down for the night inside the castle.
So what’s it like inside the castle?
If you’re staying at the castle, there are a number of options – from holiday cottages on the site, glamping options or the castle itself. We chose to stay in the castle and make the most of the sumptuous rooms and warm fires roaring.
After a night in the castle, we then had a lesiurely breakfast to end our special stay at this amazing place.
What else is there to do nearby?
If you’re wanting to make a weekend of your trip to Leeds Castle there are a lot of other things to do in the area. Here are the ones we chose to combine with our visit.
1. Knole Park
Knole Park is a National Trust property in north west Kent. There is a beautiful 400 year old house at the site, which was once a Bishop’s palace and was then passed to the Sackville family in 1603 and they still live there today! The biggest attraction though is the park itself because it is full of wild deer. They are absolutely everywhere and beautiful to watch (and even more special with the golden leaves on the ground).
2. Sissinghurst Castle Garden
Sissinghurst Castle Garden sits on what was a Saxon pig farm. The Tudor buildings here were used as a prison for up to 3,000 French sailors who were captured by the British during the Seven Years War. Held for months at a time in vile, stinking conditions, the sailors referred to Sissinghurst as ‘le chateaux’ hence ‘castle’ being adopted in to its name.
More recently it was used as a poor house, and then purchased in the 1930s privately and restored beautifully to be the stunning, famous, gardens it is today.
Tonbridge is a pretty market town, and we chose to have a meal there with our friends that live near by, at a delicious Turkish restaurant, Havet, in the centre of town. We also checked out Tonbridge castle while we were there – one of England’s finest examples of a motte and bailey castle.
Would you like to pretend to be royalty for the night? Staying in a castle was definitely a unique experience that I’d recommend if you have the chance. Thank you for reading – stay safe and happy travelling!