Thursday, August 10, 2006

Lady's Castle, "The Loveliest Castle in the World"

Leeds Castle is not in Leeds, but in Kent, nor does it have anything to do with the City of Leeds. It is thought that this "Leeds" is a corruption of "Lady's" or "Ladies'" because the castle was given by various kings and noblemen to various ladies over the centuries. Nine centuries, no less, for it was built by a nephew of William the Conqueror.

Lady Baillie, an American heiress, visited the castle and fell in love with it. She bought it in 1926 and lovingly restored it. It is perfection! When she died in 1974, she left the castle to England.

I spent lots of time in the gardens and the aviary, while Tom spent most of his time inside the castle.

Lady Baillie loved birds. Peacocks roam the grounds - even a white one (which we glimpsed briefly on the way out, but couldn't get a picture of). The aviary houses her favorite bird species, the toucan, as well as lots of parrots. There are even ibis roaming around. I'd never seen those except in pictures of Egyptian statuary. The black swans are descendants of those given to her by Winston Churchill.

Here are some pictures we took while there, but also check out the pictures and information here and here.