Leeds Castle Kent has been dubbed the “loveliest Castle in the world” and beyond the spin, there is much to recommend the short hop from London, especially now its metaphorical drawbridge has been lowered post-lockdown.
As I discovered on my recent spring visit the glorious grounds of Leeds Castle are now open, allowing you to take a leisurely stroll up to the 900-year-old castle.
Although the castle itself will not reopen until 17 May, in accordance with government restrictions, the ornate Princess Alexandra Gardens replete with daffodils, anemones and narcissi can be visited. Alternatively, you can sit on a bench amidst the daffodils gazing at Leeds Castle across the moat.
Currently, the castle shops are open – serving a range of food, drink and gifts – as are the Leeds Castle Maze and Grotto, and the family friendly Adventure Golf. Those who take their golfing a bit more seriously can play a leisurely nine holes at the Leeds Castle Golf course, with the castle itself as the most glorious backdrop.
Tickets for Leeds Castle need to be purchased in advance with your allotted time slot, and the rule of six applies. There is also a one-way system throughout the grounds to ensure your safety. A handy mini-bus can take you from the entrance to Leeds Castle by the car park if you have any mobility issues, alternatively the walk only takes 10 to 15 minutes.
Although the Bird of Prey Centre was due to open on 12 April, on our visit the birds were being protected due to an outbreak of bird flu. If you wish to partake in the falconry experience then you should check up in advance when these most amazing birds will be on display.
Is Leeds Castle Open?
From 17 May, the Castle will open its doors for you to experience 900 years of history, from the Norman Cellars through the Henry VIII Banqueting Hall to the glamorous 1930s, when Lady Olive Baillie made Leeds Castle her home. This date also marks when the Castle View restaurant will reopen, offering visitors evening meals appropriately overlooking the castle.
Summer Events at Leeds Castle Kent
Leeds Castle Concert, which is the largest outdoor classical event in Kent, will take place on 10 July with covid-compliant safety measures. On 13 and 14 August, the Jungle Book children’s theatre will perform on the castle lawns. Tickets for both can be purchased at www.leeds-castle.com/events.
Leeds Castle Afternoon Tea
Nothing compares with having a classic afternoon tea in one of the most wonderful settings in England. Leeds Castle afternoon tea experience returns on 13 June. Indulge in scones, cakes, tea and bubbles served on the Castle Island.
Tickets to Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle tickets are £28 for adults, £19.50 for children, £27 for students and over 65s, and £90 for a family. All tickets allow you repeat visits for 12 months. Infants can enter for free. Visit www.leeds-castle.com to purchase your ticket.
Leeds Castle Opening Times
The grounds open at 10am and close at 5pm (October to March) and 6pm (April to September).
Leeds Castle Accommodation
If you fancy Leeds Castle glamping medieval-style, the Knight’s Glamping tents will reopen on 17 May for overnight guests. Alternatively hire one of the self-catering cottages on the site, such as the pet-friendly Keeper’s House for a secluded Leeds Castle stay, or book a room in the five-star medieval Battel Hall Manor House.
Located near Maidstone, the castle is close to Junction 8 on the M20 a mere hour’s drive from London.
Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent ME17 1PL. Telephone: (01622) 765 400. Website: www.leeds-castle.com.
Main image of a posing swan, courtesy of Leeds Castle.
Mark Bibby Jackson
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