Leeds Castle and Hever Castle

Leeds Castle has been described as ‘the loveliest castle in the world’ and it definitely lives up to that description. It is one of the finest examples of a moated medieval castle in England and its position in the heart of Kent makes it a very desirable daytrip from London. This is where King Henry VIII stayed on his way to France to meet Philip I, the French king at the Field of Cloth of Gold in 1520AD. It has been owned by medieval queens but much later was owned by an American heiress, Olive Wilson Filmer (later Lady Baillie.) There are over 900 years of history associated with Leeds Castle. And yet it is not all about history. There are fun activities for children, exotic birds in the aviary, a beautiful Culpepper garden to visit as well as the extensive grounds to explore. Children and adults alike will enjoy the large maze and there is even a Dog Collar Museum! Hever Castle is also a stunning castle to visit. It is the former home of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII in the 16th century although the oldest part of the castle dates back to 1270. It was Anne Boleyn who gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I of England. Inside the castle, you will learn about the history of Henry VIII and his wives, see the splendid Tudor portraits as well as Anne Boleyn’s Books of Hours (prayer books) which are signed and inscribed by her. In the early part of the 20th century, it was acquired by an American millionaire, William Waldorf Astor. As well as the wonderful Tudor interiors, there is a yew maze, a water maze and extensive grounds in which to walk. You can hire rowing boats on the large lake or just stand and admire the view from the Loggia fountain. The Italian Garden with elegant sculptures and the Rose Gardens are havens of beauty and serenity.