The Magnificent Leeds Castle, Kent
We recently visited Leeds Castle, in Maidstone, Kent, on a very cold and blustery day in half term. It seemed quite quiet whilst we waited to get our tickets, but when we went through the gates to the parkland it was bustling with young mums and grandparents with children and toddlers.
The grounds are magnificent with plenty of space to run around in and ducks and geese and black swans to feed, with the special bird food that can be bought in the reception area for £1. The black swans had originally been brought over from Australia by Lady Baillie in the 1920s
We wandered over to the beautiful gardens and headed across to the maze and play areas. This is when we realised why all the Mums and Grandparents were there with their children; the play areas were brilliant. There are two separate play areas, The Squires Courtyard for visitors 6 and under and The Knights Realm for visitors 7 to 14. They were both very exciting and both themed like Castles. In fact even the toilet block between them looked like a Castle!
The maze looked exciting too, although we didn’t go in.
We did go and watch the Dark Sky Experience which only lasted a few minutes but was a very good and patriotic depiction of the battle of Agincourt. Easy to follow for children too, although it was quite noisy.
There are loads of places to sit and eat your own picnic, one coffee/snack bar and an area undercover with tables, set very close to the 2 playgrounds. Great to get a coffee and watch the children play.
The event that was on when we went was ‘The Chelsea Fringe’. Photo frames were placed all round the grounds and we were encouraged to take photographs through the frames, each frame had an amusing name too. (our photos didn’t really work out very well though!!). If you are interested there is a Dog collar exhibition which is there most of the year!
So, on to the castle itself. It is advertised as ‘The Loveliest Castle in the World’ It is without a doubt a beautiful castle. We entered by the back cellar stairs, moving through 19th century rooms, Tudor era (1520s), Henry VIII’s banqueting hall, which was being set out for a wedding breakfast for the couple who were being married in the castle later that day. (We had seen a number of guests wandering about the Stable Courtyard in their finery whilst most other people were huddled in their warm winter clothes!)
Onwards and upwards to the rooms that were decorated in Lady Baillie’s time during the late 20s until 1970s. The castle is still set out as a home with 20 Bedrooms that can be hired by wedding guests. It was a fascinating tour, and the guides were very helpful, especially the lady who took us to the library out of turn so that we could see it and the adjoining room before they were closed for the wedding ceremony.
When we got back to the entrance, we realised that you could buy one ticket and use it all year*, so that’s incredibly good value, especially if on subsequent visits you just want to use the grounds and play areas. Hence the number of Mums and Grandparents, as it was May bank holiday week and the children were off school. It was a really good afternoon, even though it was very cold and blustery. I’m really sorry that we don’t live closer as I’d definitely go back for another visit.
*Pay once and visit all year round
All tickets grant repeat visits for a whole year from the date of issue, so you can use your ticket to visit as many times as you like. This includes a programme of events and activities throughout the year (excluding special ticketed events).
Small additional charges may apply to activities at some events.
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Prices valid from 25th March 2016 to 31st March 2017
Adults £24.50 Senior Citizen/Student £21.50 Child (4-15 years) £16.50 Visitor with Disability – Adult* £21.50 Visitor with Disability – Child (4-15 years)* £13.50 Infant (under 4 years) FREE
*Visitor with Disability ticket includes one free carer.
NB: Thanks to Visit Kent for arranging our entry into Leeds Castle