When was Leeds Castle built and is it open to the public?

As the BBC's 'Countryfile' programme celebrates the castle's 900 anniversary here's what you need to know about the ancient stronghold and when you can go and visit.

When was Leeds Castle built?

A wooden structure on the island where Leeds Castle now lies was made in around 857  by a Saxon chief called Led or Leeds

A castle was raised in stone on an island by Norman baron in the reign of William the Conqueror's son, Henry 1, nearly 900 years ago

Around 150 years later it came into the possession of King Edward the First and for the next three centuries it remained a royal home.

Henry VIII transformed the castle from a fortified stronghold to a magnificent royal palace.

Down the years passed into the hands of three notable families, the St Legers, the Culpepers and the Fairfaxes, and was owned for just over a century by the Wykeham Martins.

It was bought in 1926 by the Mrs Wilson Filmer, a wealthy Anglo-American heiress.

Following her death the castle was handed over to the Leeds Castle Foundation whose job it is to preserve and promote the castle and grounds.

Is it open to the public?

Leeds Castle was opened to the public in 1976 and its 500 acres of beautiful parkland are open to visitors all year round.

The park dates from the early-middle ages, and was designed to enhance the architecture and status of the royal castle at its core.

The grounds and gardens provide a haven for bird life including eight pairs of black swans that roam freely on the moat as well as parakeets, cockatoos and macaws in the exotic bird aviary.



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