If you stop thinking for a minute and try to picture an English castle, what does it look like?
A noble property, surrounded by a moat and only accessible by a drawbridge, with imposing stone towers and lavish gardens, perhaps?
Because that’s exactly what the Leeds Castle looks like. A picture perfect portrait!
Leeds Castle – In Photos
I was really excited to visit Leeds Castle, for several reasons. Firstly because it was supposed to be England’s finest, secondly because I was really curious to see how long it would take me to get through the maze, but also because it features a rather unusual exhibition for a castle of its kind – instead of focusing on the medieval days and the battles, it’s all about the glorious 1930s, when the castle went under a vast refurbishment project lead by the owner, Lady Baillie, and her French designer friends.
It was a bit odd a first to be in such an old castle (the building itself dates back to the 1200s, with a more modern part added in the 1800s) but surrounded by relatively modern furniture and decor.
Lady Baillie dearly loved the castle, and because she wanted her love and hard work to be enjoyed by millions of people after she died, she bequeathed it to the castle foundation for management and upkeep. It’s been one of the most visited attractions in the UK since then.
The castle is actually steeped in English history. It was first a Norman stronghold. Later on, Henry the VIII welcomed his first wife (in other words, the first one to be killed) at the castle in the 1500s. Thomas Fairfax was born there in 1693. It even held secret meetings during World War II!
Another lovely part of the castle grounds is the beautiful garden. You can actually tell when you get closer to it because the smell of flowers is very strong and very appealing. Peonies, poppies, lad’s love, roses, lupins, and about a dozen other flowers await in a classic English garden design. Needless to say, I went a bit overboard with the macro shots.
As I said earlier, the other reason why I was so interested in the castle was because of the famous maze. I’m always up for a challenge, and although I may lack coordination and I’m barely ever aware of my surroundings, I have a very good inner GPS – in short, I always know where I’m going.
But damn, I had underestimated this maze! At that point, time was ticking before I had to get back to the bus, and after 10 minutes of running around in what felt like circles, I had to get the help of a lady who already reached the central platform to get there myself. So much for my inner GPS!
And yes, I did feel a bit like in Harry Potter, and I kept expecting the yew trees to try to capture me into the darkness.