ENGLAND 2003

    Day 4 , April 8, 2003 - Tuesday

    Canterbury to Leed's Castle

    In addition to sloping floors and doors, we had a rather strange arrangement for our bathroom.  Since this hotel was built before individual bathrooms were part of the room, they had placed a wall across the right side of the room.  In the middle of the wall, a door opened into what appeared like a small hallway. On the left against the outside wall was the toilet and slightly in front of that was the wash basin.  At the opposite end of the “hallway” to the right was a small shower. It had almost no water pressure, so our showers this morning had a few trickles. We ate a private breakfast …because no one else was in the room…in the dining room with the bay window on the front of the hotel.  

    Our adventure today is to go to Leed’s Castle by train.  We walked to the train station.  It was nice not to be lugging baggage for a change.   We had to change trains at Ashton to Bearstead.  From there we took a bus to the gate of the castle and then a tram up to the door.   It was a beautiful spring day with blue skies and a sea of spring flowers everywhere.  We took a self guided tour of the Castle.  The staff didn’t seem very knowledgeable of the history. 

    One of William the Conqueror’s lords, Robert de Crevecoeur, build this castle in 1119. It passed into royal hands in 1278 and became part of the Queen of England’s dower - the settlement widowed queens received upon the death of their husbands. Over the course of 150 years it was held by six medieval queens: Eleanor of Castile; Margaret of France; Isabella of France, Joan of Navarre; Anne of Bohemia and Catherine de Valois. Henry VIII visited the castle frequently.  Edward VI granted the castle to one of Henry’s courtiers for his services.

    The last owner of Leeds Castle, Lady Baillie,in an was an American-born heiress to the Whitney fortune. She purchased the castle in 1926 for $873,000, beating out Randolph Hearst, the newspaper tycoon, as high bidder.  Lady Baillie devoted the rest of her life to restoring the Norman castle and rolling parkland that surrounds it. When Lady Baillie died in 1974, she left Leeds Castle to a charitable trust which ensures its enjoyment by the public and also promotes the castle for weddings and national and international seminars.

    The grounds cover 500 acres with a restaurant, golf course, greenhouses, an aviary, and a maze. We had lunch in an outdoor café on the grounds.   We walked through the aviary which had more than 100 species of rare and colorful birds including macaws, cockatoos and toucans.  We decided to walk the Maze which was planted with 2400 yew trees in 1988.  We couldn’t find our way out.  They had guides perched high in the center to help the lost out.  We raised our hands and they guided us out.  


      Also on the grounds was an unusual collection, the Dog Collar Museum which displayed 200 antique dog collars spanning five centuries.  Collars dating from the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries were designed to protect a dog during a time when wolves, bears, and wild boar roamed the forests of Europe and the vulnerable throats of hunting dogs needed protection with broad iron collars bristling with fearsome spikes.

    The whole day was most enjoyable.  We took the tram back to the bus and the bus to the train – a nonstop to Canterbury West.  The train was filled with school children who were very loud.  The train had to stop for an accident so we were delayed getting back.   Near the hotel was a bookstore where we bought two wool scarves… one of which disappeared on March 5th 2010 while eating lunch in Accokeek.

    We attend Evensong at the cathedral at 5:30.   There was visiting girls’ choir from Asford, England.  It was a moving service.  We ate dinner in the Olive Grove, an Italian restaurant, near the hotel.  For dinner we had pasta penne and saltimbocca, wine, whiskey and tiramisu for dessert.



    DAY 1 - London

    DAY 2 - London

    DAY 3 - Canterbury

    DAY 4 - Leed's Castle

    DAY 5 - Salisbury

    DAY 6 - Salisbury/Stonehenge

    DAY 7 - Bath and Wells

    DAY 8 - Bath

    DAY 9 - Bath and London