Leeds Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Other/Unknown), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle, and also as a Certain Palace (Royal)

There are major building remains

NameLeeds Castle
Alternative NamesLeedes; Ladies Castle; Ledes; Slede
Historic CountryKent
Modern AuthorityKent
1974 AuthorityKent
Civil ParishBroomfield And Kingswood

Castle. Early-to-mid C12, with C13, C14, C15 and C16 alterations. Partly rebuilt 1822 by Fiennes Wykeham-Martin. Interiors remodelled first half of C20. Stone, with plain tile roofs. Motte-and-bailey castle with shell keep, moated from at least 1272. Two islands. Larger island: aligned north-east/south-west. South-west gatehouse, linked to inner barbican by stone bridge, one parapet wall extending south-east as retaining wall of south- east causeway. Watergate and Maidens Tower to south and east side. 1822 block to north-east end. All buildings linked by bastioned enceinte wall. Smaller island or Gloriette: aligned north-south, reached by bridge from 1822 block. Extended D shape, with small courtyard. Bridge to gatehouse of 2 pointed arches with ramped parapet. Gatehouse: core possibly early-to-mid C13. Altered and extended in late C13. Machicolations added late C14/early C15. Further alterations in C16 and C17. Deep gateway flanked by 2 parallel ranges of obliquely receding wings. 2 storeys, on battered plinth. Hipped roofs to wings and to south-west section of gateway: Gateway battlemented to north-east. South-west elevation has blocked loop lights, 2 pointed-arched windows and C16 two-light windows with squared hoodmoulds. Paired trefoiled lancets and windows with Y tracery to north-east. Depressed- pointed south-west arch of 2 orders with portcullis groove (similar to barbican gateways), with deep machicolations added above. Various 2-centred arched north-east doorways. Bridge and gateway paved with setts. Watergate: possibly early-to-mid C13, converted to bath in late C13; or built in late C13. Built beneath outer enceinte wall. Rectangular, vaulted, with 2 vaulted passages to moat and internal stone stairs to upper chamber. 2 low pointed arches to moat, with portcullis groove. Maidens Tower: C16, altered ?1750 and 1822. Two storeys, with third at lower level to south, on plinth. Formerly gabled. Battlemented in about 1750, or in 1822. Hipped roof

Projecting first-floor corbelled stack to rear to left, with adjacent garderobe projection. Regular 6-window front of hollow-chamfered stone mullioned windows with rounded lights and squared hoodmoulds; one 3-light towards each end, flanked by 2-light windows 4-centred arched doorway with moulded jambs and later 3-light window above, under principal window to left, and another, with rounded hoodmould, to right of centre. 1822 block: in a C16 style. Rectangular, with octagonal corner turrets. Slightly projecting central gateway, also with octagonal turrets. 2 storeys, with 3-storey gate-tower, on moulded plinth. Moulded string above ground and first floor windows, and to attic of gateway. Battlemented. Lancet loop light to each stage of tower. Irregular fenestration of 7 stone mullioned and transomed windows with hollow-chamfered round-headed lights and squared hoodmoulds; two 6-light and central 8-light to left of gateway, one 8-light to gateway, and two 6-light, one 8-light and one single light to right. 4-light mullioned window to attic of gateway. Ground- floor windows taller. 2-storey canted bay to each gable end. 4-centred arched moulded doorway with hoodmould. Ribbed door. Replaced a C17 building, probably on site of hall. Outer enceinte walls: possibly early-to-mid C13, altered in late C13; or built in late C13 (accounts 1298-9). Formerly with five D-shaped turrets or bastions, 2 to north-west, 3 to south and east side. Truncated and stone-coped, except for north-east bastion(the Ivy Tower) which has semi-conical roof. Replaced C12 inner enceinte walls with square bastions. Bridge to Gloriette: largely 1822. Two storeys, built over 2 pointed arches, with string courses, battlements and C16-style stone mullioned windows with squared hoodmoulds. Gloriette: outer walls and windows possibly C12, altered late C13, C14, C16 and 1822. 2 storeys on battered plinth. Shallow semi-circular north turret. 3-storey bell turret to north end of bridge, with bell dated 1435. String courses above ground and first floor windows. Battlements of 1822. Garderobe projection to north-east. Projecting corbelled first floor stack to each side. Ground floor windows of late C13 and early C14, including pair of 2-light transomed windows to west half of south elevation with Y tracery, moulded architraves and continuous moulded hoodmould. First floor windows and 2-storey canted bay window to west of c. 1520-30. Interior: only partly inspected. Moulded interior hoods to 3 of the south windows of Gloriette. Cellar, possibly C12, with low pointed-arched vault under 1822 block, with fragment of narrow stone spiral staircase. C13 doorway with decorative stone chamfer stops within first floor of gatehouse. Early C16 stone fireplace to former banqueting room in Gloriette. Formerly C17 stable fittings with arcaded wooden stalls within gatehouse range. Internal decoration of 1920s and later, including fittings brought from elsewhere: linenfold panelling to Gloriette staircase, mid C18 chimney-pieces, doorcases and panelling, chimneypiece of c. 1570 from Woodland Manor, Mere, and mid-C17 panelling from Thorpe Hall, all in 1822 block. Owned c. 1114 to mid 1260s by de Crevecoeur family. Became Royal possession c. 1272/1278, forming part of Queen's dower. Granted to Sir Anthony St. Leger of Ulcombe 1552. Bought by Sir Thomas Colepepper from Smyth family 1632. (Listed Building Report)

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTQ836532
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Henry Law All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Photograph by Baljeet Dhillon. All rights reservedView full Sized Image
Photograph by Baljeet Dhillon. All rights reservedView full Sized Image
Photograph by Baljeet Dhillon. All rights reservedView full Sized Image
Photograph by Baljeet Dhillon. All rights reservedView full Sized Image
Photograph by Baljeet Dhillon. All rights reservedView full Sized Image
Photograph by Baljeet Dhillon. All rights reservedView full Sized Image
Photograph by Baljeet Dhillon. All rights reservedView full Sized Image
Photograph by Baljeet Dhillon. All rights reservedView full Sized Image
Photograph by Baljeet Dhillon. All rights reservedView full Sized Image

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 236-7, 252
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Late Medieval Siege: 1200-1500 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 113
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 268 (siege 1138)
  • Salter, Mike, 2000, The Castles of Kent (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 50-3
  • Cooper, Nicholas, 1999, Houses of the Gentry, 1480-1680 (Yale University Press) p. 300
  • Morris, R.K., 1998, 'The Architecture of Arthurian Enthusiasm: Castle Symbolism in the Reigns of Edward I and his Successors' in M.J. Strickland (ed), Armies, Chivalry and Warfare in Medieval England and France: Proceedings of the 1995 Harlaxton Symposium (Stamford: Shaun Tyas) p. 63-81 (reprinted in Liddiard, Robert (ed), 2016, Late Medieval Castles (Boydell Press) p. 349-374)
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 121-2
  • Thurley, Simon, 1993, The Royal Palaces of Tudor England (Yale University Press) p. 3, 8, 10
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 141-44
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 231-2
  • Guy, John, 1980, Kent Castles (Meresborough Books)
  • Smithers, David Waldron, 1980, Castles in Kent (Chatham)
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 252
  • Newman, John, 1976, Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald (Harmondsworth) p. 370-73
  • Colvin, H.M., Ransome, D.R. and Summerson, John, 1975, The history of the King's Works Vol. 3: 1485-1660 (part 1) (London) p. 261-2
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 222-3
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London) p. 695-702
  • Toy, S., 1953, The Castles of Great Britain p. 179-80
  • Braun, H., 1936, The English Castle p. 99
  • Tipping, H.A., 1921, English Homes, period 1 Vol. 1 (London) p. 201-19
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Gould, I. Chalkley, 1908, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Kent Vol. 1 p. 432 online copy
  • Harris, E., 1906, The Siege of Leeds Castle (Rochester)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 24-9 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1884, Mediaeval Military Architecture in England (Wyman and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 176-82 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 1 (London) p. 314-7 online copy
  • Wykeham Martin, C., 1869, The History and Description of Leeds Castle, Kent online copy
  • Hasted, Edward, 1798 (2edn), The history and topographical survey of the county of Kent Vol. 5 p. 478-502 online transcription
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 132
  • Grose, Francis, 1785 (new edn orig 1756), Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 3 p. 58-63 online copy



  • Creighton, O.H., 2010, 'Room with a View: Framing Castles Landscapes' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 24 p. 37-49 (slight)
  • Ashbee, J., 2004, ''The chamber called Gloriette' living at leisure in thirteenth and fourteenth-century castles' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 157 p. 17-40
  • 1987, Kent Archaeological review Vol. 87 p. 167
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 314
  • Prestwich, M.C., 1982, 'English Castles in the Reign of Edward II' Journal of Medieval History Vol. 8 p. 159-178 (reprinted in Liddiard, Robert (ed), 2016, Late Medieval Castles (Boydell Press) p. 303-322)
  • 1979, 'Archaeological Notes from Maidstone Museum' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 95 p. 296 online copy
  • Rigold, S., 1969, 'Leeds Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 126 p. 254-55
  • Hussey, 1936, Country Life Vol. 80 p. 56-74, 600-5
  • 1930, 'Miscellaneous notes: Leeds Castle' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 42 p. 233 online copy
  • 1927, Country Life Vol. 61 p. 290
  • Conway, M., 1925, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 82 p. 259 (slight) online copy
  • Conway, 1913, Country Life Vol. 34 p. 806-14, 856-62
  • James, F.V., 1902, 'Proceedings, 1901' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 25 p. xlix-liii online copy
  • Leyland, 1897, Country Life Vol. 1 p. 35-37 (slight)
  • Robertson, W.A.Scott, 1883, 'Leeds Castle' Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 15 p. 148-151 online copy
  • Martin, 1877, The Builder Vol. 35 p. 1097-8
  • W.D., 1873, The Antiquary Vol. 4 no. 73 p. 39-41, 103-05
  • 1856, 'Southampton Ancient Walls' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 12 p. 207 online copy
  • Martin, C.W., 1854, 'Some account of the portions of the original work still remaining at Leeds Castle, Kent, in 1853' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 9 p. 286-95 online copy
  • Country Life Vol. 80 p. 568, 600
  • Country Life Vol. 34 p. 806-14, 856-62

Guide Books

  • Hodge, Jessica, 2009, Leeds Castle - Queen of Castles, Castles of Queens (Scala Publishers)
  • Cleggett, D.A.H., 2001, Leeds Castle through nine centuries
  • McCann, N., 2000, Leeds Castle (English Life Publications for Leeds Castle Enterprises)
  • Geoffrey-Lloyd, Wm and Wilson, P.C., 1976, Leeds Castle: a brief history of the castle of the queens of medieval England and a brief guide to the rooms (Leeds Castle Foundation)
  • Wykeham Martin, C., 1869, The History and Description of Leeds Castle, Kent online copy

Primary Sources