Leeds Castle: The Complete Guide

Leeds Castle in Kent
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Leeds Castle

Broomfield, Maidstone ME17 1PL, UK
Phone +44 1622 765400

Once a Norman stronghold, the picturesque Leeds Castle has served many purposes, including as a home for Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon, and as private property for six of England’s medieval queens. Today, it's one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain, welcoming visitors to its well-preserved rooms and scenic gardens.

It's a popular attraction for visitors of all ages, with many school groups traveling to Leeds Castle during the school year. It's a great pick for history buffs, as well as for families with kids as there's a lot of activities on the grounds, from adventure golf to playgrounds to falconry. Despite its long history, the castle is relatively modern, with good restaurant options and several shops. Don't miss the gardens, especially in the spring and summer, and be sure to spend a night on-site if you have the time. Here's everything you need to know about planning a trip to Leeds Castle.

What to See and Do

There's a lot to experience at Leeds Castle, from historical exhibitions to falconry to activities for families. The journey begins in The Gatehouse Exhibition, which details 900 years of the castle's history, including its 300 years of royal ownership. See original artifacts, illustrations, and films to help uncover its past. There are numerous castle rooms to explore, which include those held by Lady Baillie, the last private owner of the castle, who acquired the building in 1926 when it was sold to pay death duties.

Outside, don't miss Leeds Castle Adventure Golf, the Maze, and the Knights' Stronghold Playground, which are perfect for visitors of all ages. There are also 500 acres of gardens and parkland surrounding the castle, including the Culpeper Garden and the Princess Alexandra Gardens. Be sure to pay a visit to the Birds of Prey Centre to learn about falconry and see falconry displays. Visitors can also pay an additional fee for a close-up experience with an owl or bird of prey.

As the grounds are massive, there several options for getting around. Look for the Black Swan Ferry, the castle train, and circular walking routes, which will take you on a course around the castle and its vast gardens.

Adult visitors will enjoy the Leeds Castle Golf Club, a historic nine-hole course built in 1931 by Sir Guy Campbell. The course offers pay-and-play options for non-members, which you can book that the Leeds Castle website. There are also junior golf offerings for younger players.

How to Get There

There are numerous ways to get to Leeds Castle, which is located just outside Maidstone, in Kent. Parking at the castle is free, which means it's easy to drive there from either the local area or from London. It's about a one-hour drive from London via the M20, and 30 minutes from the Channel Tunnel and Channel Ports when traveling from France. There is clear signage along the route once you get close to Leeds Castle. If using a sat-nav system or Google Maps, input postcode ME17 1PD for the best directions.

For visitors who prefer to take public transportation, the best option is to arrive via train. Southeastern runs frequent trains to nearby Bearsted station, about an hour from London's Victoria station. From there, a bus shuttle service run by Spot Travel is available from the station from April to September, and a private service is available from October to March. If you're staying in Maidstone, take two buses: Nuventure no. 13 bus from Maidstone to Hollingbourne, and Arriva no. 13 bus from Maidstone to Hollingbourne. There are also bus sightseeing tours from London that stop at Leeds Castle. Look for tours with Golden Tours, Evan Evans, or Premium Tours.

Leeds Castle drawbridge

Ben Selway/Leeds Castle

Where to Stay

Visitors to Leeds Castles can stay on the actual castle grounds, at holiday cottages, bed and breakfasts, or in tents at Knight's Glamping. Book one of the unique cottages on the Leeds Castle Estate, or opt for a room at Stable Courtyard Bed & Breakfast or Maiden's Tower Bed & Breakfast. For an added dose of luxury, Battel Hall is a countryside escape perfect for a larger group or family.

Off the grounds, the nearby Tudor Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club is a good option for travelers who like an assortment of amenities, while the Hilton Maidstone has a spa. Chilston Park Hotel, in Lenham, is a four-star hotel with historic touches and a memorable afternoon tea. Those who prefer to make Leeds Castle into a day trip from London can access the grounds in about an hour, which means you can elect to keep your city hotel for a few extra days.

Leeds Castle gardens

Thomas Alexander/Leeds Castle

Tips for Visiting

  • Leeds Castle frequently hosts themed events and special holiday experiences. Christmas at the Castle is an especially popular event, featuring festive decor and activities. Visitors can also book Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve in the castle's Fairfax Hall. Check the online calendar of events to plan your visit.
  • While Leeds Castle has some limitations due to its historic nature, the grounds and the castle are generally accessible to visitors of limited mobility. The front entrance offers a ramp for wheelchair users and there is an accessible route available once inside. While electric scooters are not allowed, the castle will provide wheelchairs for those who need them. Leeds Castle also works to ensure that visitors with dementia and autism are provided special accommodation. You can download the autism and disability guide for the castle online.
  • Leeds Castle has several restaurants, some more casual than others. Castle View Restaurant is a sit-down restaurant serving breakfast and dinner, while The Maze Café offers grab-and-go options throughout the day (perfect for families with young kids). And, of course, don't miss the castle's delicious afternoon tea.
Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do I get to Leeds Castle?

    Visitors can drive or take a train to Leeds Castle, which is approximately one hour from London.

  • Where is Leeds Castle located in England?

    Leeds Castle can be found 5 miles southeast of Maidstone, Kent, in Broomfield.

  • How much time do I need to visit Leeds Castle?

    There's a lot to see and do at Leeds Castle, so give yourself an entire day to experience everything. Some visitors will stay onsite overnight, giving themselves more time to take in all the available activities.

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Leeds Castle: The Complete Guide