A Day at Leeds Castle
High on my UK bucket list was visiting a royal castle with a maze garden so after a little research, off to Leeds Castle I went! Located about 2 hours from the city is the beautiful 11th century castle built by the Normans which later became the home of many royal figures including none other than history's most famous Henry, the VIII. The final private owner of the castle was Lady Baillie in the 20th century who modernized much of the castle interior and treated it as her country home inviting many famous guests for weekend sleepovers including none other than John F. Kennedy.
The royals loved animals and many varieties were brought to the castle to call home when first constructed, including a porpoise and dolphin! While you won't notice many of the animals, you'll still see many varieties of birds still including black swans which is on the official castle seal.
On the ground floor of the castle are many exquisite sitting rooms but I think my favorite had to be this drawing room which at one point was also the bedroom of Lady Baillie's son.
To head upstairs to the main living quarters, you'll walk up these extremely detailed wooden staircase, commissioned by a French interior designer and fitted into the house. At the top of the staircase, you'll also notice a private courtyard with an active fleur-de-lise shaped water fountain. A bit monastery meets royalty.
One of my favorite renovated parts of the castle is Lady Baillie's dressing room, complete with a gilded vanity, marble bathroom, and beautiful built in armoires including this amazing one for her shoes.
I love books so I was in awe when I saw the castle library filled to the brim with interesting books from Lady Baillie's personal collection, including this interesting British Dogs one!
On the grounds of Leeds Castle is a little village where visitors can live out their royalty dreams and spend an evening in apartments, have lunch with a view of the castle, or explore the gardens where you can find a fun maze garden. The perfect ending for a castle exploration day.
All in all, I loved exploring Leeds Castle for a London day trip and highly recommend it for anyone wanting to get out of the city and be a part of history for a day.
- DISTANCE FROM LONDON: 2 hours from Chelsea. 1h30 from Victoria Station.
- HOW TO GET HERE: Hop on a Southeastern train from London's Victoria Station and get off at Bearsted Station. From there, take a 10 minute uber ride (~£7).
- ADMISSION: Winter 2017 tickets are £24.90 for adults. Visit anytime within the next year for free if you keep your ticket stub.