A few weeks back, I took the chance to get out of London with some friends and spend the day at Leeds Castle. Originally built over 900 years ago by Robert de Crevecoeur, it later became a royal palace in 1278 for King Edward I and his queen Eleanor of Castile.
During the Medieval times, the castle became a part of the Queen's dower, which is a settlement a queen receives upon the death of her husband, the king. Over a period of 150 years, it was held by 6 different medieval queens.
During the times of the Tudors, Henry VIII visited often with his queen, Catherine of Aragon.
Later, his son Edward VII gave the castle to a courtier as a gift for his services. Since that time, the castle has been in private hands and has seen many additions and changes through the years.
A few of rooms were returned to their medieval style, including Queen Eleanor's bedroom,
and her bath. Bathing in the Middle Ages was not a very popular pastime, but Queen Eleanor of Castile, having grown up in Spain, brought her bathing habits to the English court. Her bath was a wooden tub lined with linen sheets and cushioned with sponges. Water was heated first and scented with flowers or sweet herbs, then added to the tub. The aristocratic ladies who followed suit, wore thin linen gowns for the purpose of modesty. Their attendants would wash them with natural sponges and rinse them with rose water. Definitely a spa-like treatment.
Henry VIII's dining room is decorated in Tudor style.
But many of the rooms are shown in a more recent style and are quite lovely with beautiful views of the grounds.
Leaving the castle, we set out to explore the grounds, some 500 acres of parkland,
only a small portion of which we explored that day, leaving good reason to come back when the weather is warmer next spring.
Many birds make their home there, either in the internationally known aviary found there,
or freely strolling the grounds.
But alas, the fall colors have gone and winter has made its way to Leeds Castle,
leaving it blanketed in snow last week, along with many other regions of England.
A different view, a different season, another timeless treasure of Britain.