Leeds Castle – Museum Review

There’s lots going on at Leeds Castle, so much so that they need five separate leaflets to tell us all about it – weddings, corporate hire, golf, hot air ballooning, falconry and jousting to name but a few. But what about the castle? Is that any good?

Moated Leeds castle picture

Blossom and moat at Leeds Castle

It took me a while to get there, meandering from the car park through the pleasant grounds, by the lake and on to the picnic area for a spot of lunch and glass of wine. I skipped the maze, although it did look fun, and instead had a peak inside the dog collar museum (yes, really!) before heading to the main event – the moated castle!

Dog collar museum picture, Leeds Castle, Kent

A few examples of dog collars from the Dog Collar Museum, Leeds Castle

Different parts of the house display different parts of its history and so you see a bathroom as it would have looked in the 15th Century, a Tudor Hall as would have befitted Henry VIII as well as other Tudor-esque pieces before jumping to the 20th Century and the beautiful blue bedroom, the conference room that has hosted modern day world statesmen and rooms still used for wedding ceremonies today. All in all it takes you through 900 years of history. Like I said, there’s a lot going on at Leeds Castle.

15th Century castle with small bath tub and buckets, Leeds Castle

15th Century bathroom, Leeds Castle

Tudor Hall picture with red wall hangings, fireplace and thick wooden beams

Tudor Hall, Leeds Castle

Lady Baillie's blue room with blue panelling, travelling case, chairs and bed. Mid 20th Century

Lady Baillie’s room, mid 20th Century, Leeds Castle

The blue room above was probably my favourite, alongside the chance to see a range of different interior designs in one place, taking you through the castle’s amazing history. But however lovely it is, it all seemed very passive and static. Learning about the conferences that have taken place there and the fact weddings still happen in the castle itself helped bring it to life for me and I’d have welcomed some more interesting ways to tell the stories about the rooms and the events that have taken place there to put it in context and stop it from being just about the interior decoration.

But in the quest to get people through the gates perhaps it isn’t actually the inside of the castle that are going to be the main draw. In fact, even when I was looking round I kept being drawn to the window to look at the view or the outside of the building, which consistently seemed to hold my attention. But I’d love to see some fresh thinking about the inside, it certainly has some beautiful rooms and some amazing history and while I felt there was something missing the day I visited I’m sure when they have exhibitions in the house these bring the place to life.

tudor window

But as a day out it is great, lots to do, lots to see, lots of space to run around and above all a moated castle, which you certainly don’t see everyday. And it is this backdrop of a moated castle that makes it perfect for all the events and activities they are beckoning us to attend, and why not, it’s definitely one of their key assets.

Leeds Castle
Maidstone
Kent ME17

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