Original article from Kent Live
Leeds Castle near Maidstone has a rich and fascinating history.
Known as the Castle of Queens, tales from within its stone walls span back more than 900 years.
While King Henry VIII may have perhaps left his mark most notably, he is by no means the only royal connection.
Originally used as a military post during the Norman conquest, Leeds Castle has passed from one royal hand to the next.
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In 1139, the castle was besieged by Stephen Blois, who was King of England until 1154.
From this point on, the castle became shaped by some of history's most infamous rulers.
Features did, of course, develop over time.
Whilst on Crusade in the Holy Land, King Edward I developed a love for hot baths.
When Edward inherited the castle, he made sure to improve its defences as well as a few domestic aspects, creating a bathhouse.
The bathhouse can be found underneath the walls of the bailey and adjacent to the Maidens Tower.
King Henry VIII
King Henry VIII inherited Leeds Castle in 1509.
He adored his wife Catherine of Aragon so much that he wanted to make the castle as comfortable as possible for her.
Transforming the historic Norman stronghold into a magnificent royal palace, his work can still be seen to this day.
Fireplaces decorated with the royal arms and Spanish motifs suggest that an upper floor was reserved for the exclusive use of the Queen; one such fireplace displayed the royal arms intertwined with lovers’ knots.
Henry VIII was also responsible for one of this country's most extravagant diplomatic events.
Playing host, Henry VIII welcomed French King, François I to a massive tournament known as 'The Field of Cloth of Gold'.
The event brought together 5,000 people, who spent the night at Leeds Castle.
Surviving records show that venison from the Leeds estate and butter from the dairies were served at this historic occasion.
A castle fit for a royal visit
After almost 300 years of royal ownership, this period came to an end in 1552.
In 1778, Leeds Castle received a royal visit from King George III and Queen Charlotte.
The royal couple travelled to Kent to review an army encampment and spent the night at the castle.
The castle itself has been transformed over time, with many additions through the years.
Most recently, the castle's last private owner, Lady Baillie, enlisted the help of the French designer, Stephane Boudin, in 1932.
Boudin also designed for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Today, the castle and its 500-acre grounds is a visitor attraction, with playgrounds, gardens, ferry, adventure golf, a bird of prey centre, and a huge maze all bringing in locals and tourists alike.