Leeds Castle in Kent describes itself as the loveliest castle in the world. It’s certainly beautiful, and has a fascinating history which has seen many changes of ownership and in fortune. The current castle dates mostly from the 19th century, and is situated on islands in the lake formed by the River Len, located to the east of the village of Leeds, in Kent.
A castle has existed on this site since the year 1119, when the first stone castle was built by Robert de Crevecoeur. Since then, the castle has undergone numerous alterations and transformations. It was twice been under siege, the first time in 1139 and the second in 1321. In 1278, Queen Eleanor of Castile (1241-1290) purchased the Castle from Leyburn and thus began the long history of the castle’s royal ownership. Its other notable owners include King Edward I in the 13th century, and Henry VIII, who used it as a home for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon in the 16th century.
The castle has been the setting for many important political and social meetings during its long and vibrant history. The castle’s many reincarnations has seen it as a Norman Stronghold, a Royal Castle, Tudor Palace, Jacobean Home and Georgian Mansion. In 1665, the smallest building, known as the Gloriette, was severely damaged in a dramatic fire in 1665, when Dutch prisoners who were being held inside it contrived to set it alight. The ‘New Castle’ - almost was finished in 1823, and its external appearance has not altered greatly to this day.
In 2015, Leeds Castle turned to CAP.Co to design and build new adventure play which could keep up with their many visitors, whilst respecting the beauty of what existed already.
The brief for CAP.Co was to revitalise the adventure play, replacing the tired existing playground with a design that could reflect the incredible history of Leeds Castle. Our challenge was to distill the many historical references and inspirations into a design concept that could evoke adventure, discovery and curiosity for history in the families who came to Leeds Castle.
The chosen design follows a castellated theme and features bridges, towers and walkways echoing the architectural cues from some of the earlier versions of the castle that stands on the site today.
The finished build didn't disappoint either as you can see from the following images.
And it was an immediate hit when it opened to the public.
For more information about visiting The Knights Realm, see Leeds Castle’s website.