Leeds Castle was listed in the Doomsday Book as a Saxon manor and has played many roles since then.  It has been a Norman stronghold; private residence of six 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 early 20th century retreat for the influential and famous; and now, in the 21st century it is one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain.

The first recorded appearance of Leeds in history is as early as 855, when the area of land on which the castle now stands was known as the manor of Esledes – the word ‘manor’ then meaning a unit of land, rather than necessarily a building.  ‘Esledes’ derives from the Old English word meaning ’slope’ or ‘hillside’;  Leeds village still stands on the slope above the valley of the river Len.  In the ninth century the manor of Leeds was in the possession of the Saxon family.  In the years immediately before the Norman Conquest, King Edward the Confessor granted the manor to the powerful house of Godwin, whose most famous son, Harold, was killed by the invading Normans in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings, some 40 miles south of Leeds.  According to the Doomsday Book, William the Conqueror’s survey of his new kingdom, the manor of Leeds in 1086 offered vineyards, eight acres of meadows and woodland, and five mills. *

When we arrived the weather was overcast and it was extremely chilly and there was an unexpected snow flurry. Trying to take photographs and keep my fingers warm at the same time was a bit of a challenge. Later in the day the weather changed completely and the sun came out, but the temperature didn’t improve very much. I was wishing I had brought my hat with me and got tempted by a new one in the castle shop.

Leeds Castle

Covered Bridge

View from the Inside

*From the Leeds Castle Guidebook.

18 Comments CherryPie on Jan 25th 2011

18 Responses to “Leeds Castle”

  1. MTG says:

    I was a hungry Leeds City student when a pair of XXL American tourists asked me for directions to the castle. I humbly hailed a taxi and wondered if I would earn a commission if the driver made it all the way to Kent.

  2. It’s a beautiful place So long since I’ve been there. I will have to pay a visit soon

  3. jameshigham says:

    Saxon Manor? Wouldn’t mind such a one as that. Middle pic extraordinary.

  4. Ginnie says:

    I’ll have to remember this gem for when I go back to England, Cherie. But then, my list from you is already pretty long!

  5. ubermouth says:

    That’s quite a castle and stunning views,but I am surprised that it only stands on 8 acres especially in those days when land was parcelled off in the hundreds of acres for royalty.

    I wonder if people like Edward the Confessor was so named because people nicknamed them such behind their backs? :)

  6. jane says:

    Kent is an area I haven’t been to and you are tempting me more. Hope you are having a good Jan.

    • CherryPie says:

      There are a lot of interesting places to visit down there but it is such a very long journey from where I live. We refer to those relatives as living on the moon ;-)

  7. Janice says:

    A grand looking castle – wonder if it’s damp and cold inside in the wintertime.

  8. Ever since I saw Leeds Castle, in I think it was Natinal Geographic, many years ago it has been my favourite. I was tickled by the fact that it is in Kent and not in Leeds.

    Here’s a teaser. Historically, there was a castle (no longer there) in Leeds; a) what was it called; b) where was it located?