A character-filled, historic and lively town rich in British history dating back to Roman times. The spectacular cathedral is the home of the Church of England.
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Maidstone, Kent, United Kingdom (UK)|www.leeds-castle.com|
Divided over two islands in the River Led, with stately turrets and a shimmering moat set against a bucolic background of rolling hills, it’s easy to see why Leeds is widely regarded as the loveliest castle in Britain.
Its foundations date back over 900 years, although today’s Tudor-style castle was remodelled in the 19th century. It was the favourite residence of several British monarchs – including King Edward I and later, Catherine of Aragon.
Aside from the castle, there’s a maze, several beautiful gardens, a miniature train, boat trips on the lake, a tree-top adventure, and a falconry centre. It ranks today as one of Britain’s best historic day outs – for all the family.
Alongside the regal history, the castle also has its own Bird of Prey Centre, which houses a wide variety of birds, from Burrowing Owls to a Russian Steppe Eagle. Every day (weather permitting) the birds are on public display on the weathering ground and in their aviaries.
Getting there & doing it
The castle is about a 45-mile drive south east of central London, clearly signposted along the M20 motorway. The train from London Victoria will take you to Bearsted station in about an hour: shuttles and taxis are available from there to take you to the castle.
Audio guides are available (for a small fee) at the Gatehouse on entry, and there are various guided talks and tours. See the website for booking onto them.
When to do it
The castle is open all year round, seven days a week, (although the castle and its grounds close slightly earlier in winter). Boat trips and some outdoor activities do not run during winter months.
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