Leeds Castle describes itself as ‘The loveliest castle in the world’ and it’s easy to see how it’s 500 acres of parkland and formal gardens and fairy-tale-like castle could deserve that accolade.
MUMMY’S GIN FUND SAYS:
We felt nervous about our first big outing in our first car but so long had I wanted to see the famous house on the moat that we decided to make Leeds Castle our destination. Thank heavens we did: on a wet and windy day in May with a temperamental 11 month old in tow we were introduced to the delights of the Castle and grounds.
From the moment you encounter the friendly peacocks on the walk to the Castle whilst waving at the Land Train which ferries visitors (at an additional cost) through the grounds you know you are in for a real treat. And really nothing disappoints: the Castle itself is stunning, the immense playground is an unexpected treat, food well-cooked, good quality fare, there was even a Victorian toy show for bigger little ones to watch and then join in when we were there. Had we known before we left that you can hire cottages and stay on site, I don’t think we would have come home that night.
All in all, a real treat to visit. If you’re planning a trip keep an eye on the Castle’s packed events schedule as they really do go to town, particularly with events for school holidays like jousting tournaments to delight big kids and small alike.
It is a beautiful stately home set in glorious Kent countryside. Simply dowsed in interesting history, a building has occupied this site since Norman times and it is very easy to see why it has been loved by a diverse range of characters from Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon to the Anglo-American heiress, Lady Bailie, who saved the property from squalor in 1926 when it was sold to pay death duties.
Sitting atop a gleaming body of water, the first glimpse you get of the Castle from the long walk from the car park is simply breathtaking and there are always interesting events going on, particularly during school holiday.
Visiting the castle is not cheap (Adults £24, 4+ children £16) but you can get a 10% discount for buying online ahead of your visit, and an annual pass is usually priced at just £5 more than the daily entry rate so represents good value if you plan to go more than once in a year.
The castle offers a huge range of activities such as food festivals, jousting, garden tours, punting on the moat, a maze, falconry displays, a Christmas market, concerts, fireworks displays and so much more.
Opening hours: 10:30am to 6pm April to Sept and 10:30am to 5pm Oct to March
Address: Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1PL
Playground: Pretty snazzy playground for big kids and little ones alike, including zip-wires and sandpits.
Cafe: Lots of wonderful places to eat including a high dining restaurant, family friendly café and kiosks. Great place to have picnics too.
Toilets: Yes (and very well maintained). Wheelchair accessible and baby change available.
Pram / wheelchair / mobility friendly: The grounds are accessible but space restrictions in the Castle itself means that no buggies are allowed inside. However, baby slings are available on loan from the steward near the buggy park if you want to expose your little one to a slice of history on your visit.
Parking: Yes, plenty of free parking. Free shuttle service on the Land Train from the car park to the castle for less mobile visitors (ticketed for other visitors).
Train: Bearstead station (a coach shuttle service operates all year round but is a private service which is less reliable between October and March so best to check with the operator on 01622 738932 before travelling).
Phone: 01622 765400
Email: [email protected]
Review by Sadie Lad