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Leeds Castle Photo Gallery

Leeds castle Leeds castle 2 Leeds Castle 3 Leeds Castle 4 leeds castle 5 Leeds Castle fireworks leeds castle front LeedsCastle 6
Leeds Castle, 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Maidstone, Kent, England, dates back to 1119. In 1278 the castle came into the hands of King Edward I, for whom it became a favourite residence. The castle seen today dates mostly from the 19th century and is built on islands in a lake formed by the River Len to the east of the village of Leeds.

Built in 1119 by Robert de Crevecoeur as a Norman stronghold, Leeds Castle descended through the de Crevecoeur family until the 1260s. What form this first castle took is uncertain because it was rebuilt and transformed in the following centuries. However, Adrian Pettifer speculates that it may have been a motte and bailey.

In 1278, the castle became the property of King Edward I. As a favoured residence of Edward's, Leeds Castle saw considerable investment. The king enhanced its defences, and it was probably Edward who created the lake which surrounds the castle. A barbican spanning three islands was also built. Leeds Castle was also fitted with accommodation fit for royalty: a "gloriette" with apartments for the king and queen were added. In the Late Middle Ages, the growth of the royal household meant fewer residences could accommodate the monarchy when they visited. As a result, the expenditure on royal residences in south east England generally decreased except for the Tower of London and Windsor Castle. The activity at Leeds Castle during the reign of Edward I is a notable exception to this pattern.

The castle was captured on 31 October 1321 by the forces of Edward II from Margaret de Clare, Baroness Badlesmere, wife of the castle's constable, Bartholomew de Badlesmere, 1st Baron Badlesmere who had left her in charge during his absence. The King had besieged Leeds after she had refused Edward's consort Isabella of France admittance in her husband's absence; when the latter had sought to force an entry, Lady Badlesmere had instructed her archers to fire upon the Queen and her party, six of whom were killed. Lady Badlesmere was taken and kept prisoner in the Tower of London until November 1322. After Edward II died in 1327 his widow took over Leeds Castle as her primary residence.

Richard II's first wife, Anne of Bohemia, spent the winter of 1381 at the castle on her way to be married to the king. In 1395, Richard received the French chronicler Jean Froissart there, as described in Froissart's Chronicles.

Henry VIII transformed the castle in 1519 for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. A painting commemorating his meeting with Francis I of France still hangs there.

In 1552 Leeds Castle was granted to Anthony St. Leger.
   

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