I don't know if Leeds Castle in Kent is the 'loveliest castle in the world ' but it certainly is a lovely place to visit. Even under Covid regulations there is plenty for everyone. Although you can't see every room, the lack of crowds make it all the better.
The castle itself sits on an island in the Len river, with the first fortification built here in 1119. Since then the castle's provenance is littered with historic names; Edward I, Henry VIII, Edward II and Catherine of Aragon to name but a few.
Visiting today, a walk through the 'new' Georgian castle (finished in 1823) is to walk through 900 years of English history. Although there is too information much to take in, it is worth taking your time. Photographs are allowed which I was surprised at.
One story that stayed with me was the Field of the Cloth of Gold Tournament. Henry VIII stayed at Leeds on his way to meet François I in France for the event. To feed his entourage, Henry took with him a staggering 2,000 sheep, 1,600 fish, 800 calves, 1,300 chickens, 312 heron, 17 deer, 13 swans, 700 eels, 3 porpoises and a dolphin. Not forgetting gallons of beer and wine. That must have been one hell of a barbie!
But the castle really comes into its own when viewed from the grounds and gardens. In the sunshine the castle certainly is lovely. Venture away from the shimmering moat and you will find a pleasant Mediterranean styled garden, grounds to walk, play areas for the kids, a maze and a shell grotto – if you're over three, give the grotto a miss.
On certain days there are birds of prey displays and various events during the year. One very unusual exhibit is the Dog Collar Museum. Being a dog lover I found it very absorbing, some of the collars must be worth a fortune.
Entry is £28 for an adult (Leeds Castle is a non-profit foundation) but this affords you unlimited visits in a year (events are extra). Go before the crowds return.