Leeds Castle has been a Norman stronghold; the private property of six of England’s medieval queens; a palace used by Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon; 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.
The first stone castle was built by a Norman baron during the reign of William the Conqueror’s son Henry I, on an island in the River Len. In 1278, a century and a half later, it came into the possession of Queen Eleanor of Castile, first wife of Edward I.
For the next 300 years the castle remained a royal residence, before again becoming a private home. This in turn was handed down over four centuries, by both inheritance and purchase, through a network of interlinked families.
Discover the fascinating history of the Hon. Olive, Lady Baillie, the last private owner of the castle; a wealthy Anglo-American heiress who acquired Leeds Castle in 1926 when it was sold to pay death duties.
Today, the influence of Lady Baillie continues to bring the state rooms to life while visitors can see the effect of Medieval and Tudor periods in many of the other castle rooms.