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Britannia's Magical History Tour
Stop 17: Leeds Castle, Kent
Leeds Castle
About six miles southeast of Maidstone, on the A20, stands Leeds Castle, situated on two islands in a lake, formed by the River Len. It has been described as "the loveliest castle in the world." While that claim might be open to some debate, it is certainly a beautiful building, well worth seeing. Constructed in the twelfth century to be an impregnable stronghold, it became known as "Lady's Castle" because of who occupied it. Its royal residents include Eleanor and Margaret, the wives of Edward I, Philippa of Hainhault, wife of Edward III, Catherine de Valois, Henry V's wife, Catherine of Aragon, first (but not last) wife of Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I, who was imprisoned here, for a time, before her coronation.

The gatehouse with its barbican and drawbridge are the most fortress-like features of the castle. The rest, looks like what it was chiefly used for, a residence. A tour of the castle will give a whole new perspective on what life in a royal castle might have been like. There are no drafty towers, here, no rats skulking about, no dank, dungeon-like rooms. Tapestries cover the walls, fireplaces roar and there is a general atmosphere of warmth, gentility and comfort.

The castle still serves as a residence, today, but is also used as a corporate conference center, with full-service meeting areas and banquet facilities available. So, if you are still looking for that special venue for your next board meeting, you might want to give some consideration to Leeds Castle. There is a golf course that adjoins the castle grounds, so remember to bring your clubs with you.

Next stop:Dover, Kent

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