Leeds Castle

Kent, England

City/Town/Village: Hollingbourne
District: Maidstone
County: Kent
Latitude/Longitude: 51.2491, 0.630425
Postcode: ME17 1PL
(postcode is for sat-nav purposes only, and may not represent the actual address of the castle)


Privately Owned

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Leeds Castle was originally an 11th century earthwork motte and bailey fortress, founded by Hamon de Crevecoeur. His son Robert, founded the stone castle, when adding a shell keep to the motte and a gatehouse to the bailey. In the 13th century, the marshes around the castle, were formed into an enormous lake, with the dam supporting a complex system of barbicans and sluices. In 1278, King Edward I rebuilt the shell keep, to make the Gloriette and founded a concentric castle when adding a low curtain wall, flanked by D-shaped bastions.

Leeds Castle is a Listed Building. Here's what the official description says about it:

TQ 85 SW

Castle. Early-to-mid C12, with C13, C14, C15 and C16 alterations.
Partly rebuilt 1822 by Fiennes Wykeham-Martin. Interiors
remodelled first half of C20. Stone, with plain tile roofs.
Motte-and-bailey castle with shell keep, moated from at least
1272. Two islands. Larger island: aligned north-east/south-west.
South-west gatehouse, linked to inner barbican by stone bridge,
one parapet wall extending south-east as retaining wall of south-
east causeway. Watergate and Maidens Tower to south and east
side. 1822 block to north-east end. All buildings linked by
bastioned enceinte wall. Smaller island or Gloriette: aligned
north-south, reached by bridge from 1822 block. Extended D shape,
with small courtyard.
Bridge to gatehouse of 2 pointed arches with ramped parapet.
Gatehouse: core possibly early-to-mid C13. Altered and extended
in late C13. Machicolations added late C14/early C15. Further
alterations in C16 and C17. Deep gateway flanked by 2 parallel
ranges of obliquely receding wings. 2 storeys, on battered
plinth. Hipped roofs to wings and to south-west section of
gateway: Gateway battlemented to north-east. South-west
elevation has blocked loop lights, 2 pointed-arched windows and
C16 two-light windows with squared hoodmoulds. Paired trefoiled
lancets and windows with Y tracery to north-east. Depressed-
pointed south-west arch of 2 orders with portcullis groove
(similar to barbican gateways), with deep machicolations added
above. Various 2-centred arched north-east doorways. Bridge
and gateway paved with setts. Watergate: possibly early-to-mid
C13, converted to bath in late C13; or built in late C13. Built
beneath outer enceinte wall. Rectangular, vaulted, with 2 vaulted
passages to moat and internal stone stairs to upper chamber.
2 low pointed arches to moat, with portcullis groove. Maidens
Tower: C16, altered ?1750 and 1822. Two storeys, with third at
lower level to south, on plinth. Formerly gabled. Battlemented
in about 1750, or in 1822. Hipped roof. Projecting first-floor
corbelled stack to rear to left, with adjacent garderobe
projection. Regular 6-window front of hollow-chamfered stone
mullioned windows with rounded lights and squared hoodmoulds;
one 3-light towards each end, flanked by 2-light windows
4-centred arched doorway with moulded jambs and later 3-light
window above, under principal window to left, and another, with
rounded hoodmould, to right of centre. 1822 block: in a C16 style.
Rectangular, with octagonal corner turrets. Slightly projecting
central gateway, also with octagonal turrets. 2 storeys, with
3-storey gate-tower, on moulded plinth. Moulded string above
ground and first floor windows, and to attic of gateway.
Battlemented. Lancet loop light to each stage of tower.
Irregular fenestration of 7 stone mullioned and transomed windows
with hollow-chamfered round-headed lights and squared hoodmoulds;
two 6-light and central 8-light to left of gateway, one 8-light
to gateway, and two 6-light, one 8-light and one single light to
right. 4-light mullioned window to attic of gateway. Ground-
floor windows taller. 2-storey canted bay to each gable end.
4-centred arched moulded doorway with hoodmould. Ribbed door.
Replaced a C17 building, probably on site of hall.
Outer enceinte walls: possibly early-to-mid C13, altered in late
C13; or built in late C13 (accounts 1298-9). Formerly with
five D-shaped turrets or bastions, 2 to north-west, 3 to
south and east side. Truncated and stone-coped, except for
north-east bastion(the Ivy Tower) which has semi-conical roof.
Replaced C12 inner enceinte walls with square bastions.
Bridge to Gloriette: largely 1822. Two storeys, built over 2
pointed arches, with string courses, battlements and C16-style
stone mullioned windows with squared hoodmoulds. Gloriette:
outer walls and windows possibly C12, altered late C13, C14,
C16 and 1822. 2 storeys on battered plinth. Shallow semi-
circular north turret. 3-storey bell turret to north end of
bridge, with bell dated 1435. String courses above ground and
first floor windows. Battlements of 1822. Garderobe projection
to north-east. Projecting corbelled first floor stack to each
side. Ground floor windows of late C13 and early C14, including
pair of 2-light transomed windows to west half of south elevation
with Y tracery, moulded architraves and continuous moulded
hoodmould. First floor windows and 2-storey canted bay
window to west of c. 1520-30. Interior: only partly inspected.
Moulded interior hoods to 3 of the south windows of Gloriette.
Cellar, possibly C12, with low pointed-arched vault under 1822
block, with fragment of narrow stone spiral staircase. C13
doorway with decorative stone chamfer stops within first floor
of gatehouse. Early C16 stone fireplace to former banqueting
room in Gloriette. Formerly Cl7 stable fittings with arcaded
wooden stalls within gatehouse range. Internal decoration of
1920s and later, including fittings brought from elsewhere:
linenfold panelling to Gloriette staircase, mid C18 chimney-
pieces, doorcases and panelling, chimneypiece of c. 1570 from
Woodland Manor, Mere, and mid-C17 panielliiig friim Thorpe Hall,
all in 1822 block.
Owned c. 1114 to mid 1260s by de Crevecoeur family. Became
Royal possession c. 1272/1278, forming part of Queen's dower.
Granted to Sir Anthony St. Leger of Ulcombe 1552. Bought by
Sir Thomas Colepepper from Smyth family 1632. (C. Wykeham
Martin, The History and Description of Leeds Castle, Kent, 1869.
S. Rigold, Leeds Castle, The Archaeological Journal, Vol.
CXXVI, 1969. J. Newman, B.O.E., West Kent and the Weald, 1980).
See also Barbicans [Item 2/1].

Listing NGR: TQ8367353281

Information from British Listed Buildings

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