Now it’s fair to say that I love my job just about every day of the week. However, there are times when Annabel sends me an email that makes me realise just how lucky I am. The most recent note that made me feel this way opened with the line ‘would you like to spend a weekend in a castle?’ And my invitation wasn’t just to any castle but to Leeds Castle in Kent, the most picturesque of castles that’s surrounded by an idyllic moat and 500 acres of parklands. If you’re hunting for a romantic wedding venue that comes with a big helping of history and oodles of atmosphere, then you really must read on.
Because I’m a bit of a history geek, I just have to tell you a few things before we start. I will do my best to keep this brief but given that Leeds Castle has been at the centre of things for 900 years, there’s a lot I could include. So, we’ll stick with the highlights and even these are numerous. Leeds Castle has been a Norman stronghold, a private property of six of England’s medieval Queens and a palace used by King Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. More recently, the Castle was a 20th Century playground for the rich and famous of pre-war society. The guests included the Prince of Wales and Mrs Simpson, foreign Royals, film stars and all the well-known socialites of the day. The phrase ‘if only these walls could talk’ could have been coined for Leeds Castle.
But, on with my visit and the experience started from the moment I arrived. I was driven through the archway and over the moat and into the castle’s inner sanctum before being shown to my absolutely huge bedroom in the main castle itself. From the windows, I had a spectacular view of the moat and parklands beyond and I have to admit to taking a bath and wondering who else had prepared for a memorable evening in this room years earlier.
My evening certainly was one to remember. It started with drinks and canapes in the gorgeous library and my word, the canapes were just delicious. As I sat happily sipping and nibbling, I was lucky enough to watch the Castle’s in-house florist create the most beautiful, loose bouquet before my very eyes. The Castle’s last private owner, the inimitable Lady Baillie (find out more about this woman if you get the chance, she’s nothing short of a legend) stipulated that the Castle should always have a florist in residence and given that the super talented lady in front of me has won RHS medals, if you marry at Leeds Castle, you’re in for a floral treat.
Dinner was a heavenly meal and the food we ate and enjoyed was all taken from the various wedding menus on offer at Leeds Castle. I ate every single morsel and enjoyed every single mouthful. An amazing dinner in a fabulous location – I think that’s just the most perfect way to celebrate a wedding don’t you?
For me, the very best thing about Leeds Castle, and the thing that makes it such a superb wedding venue is that fact that it’s so full of surprises. Yes, there are secret passages and hidden doors but Leeds Castle holds so much more than that.
To start with, you’ve got such a selection of wedding locations within the Leeds Castle estate. From Castle Weddings that include wedding breakfast in the Henry VIII Banqueting Hall and overnight stays in the amazing Castle bedrooms to the rustic joys of Fairfax Hall, an immaculately restored Kentish timber-framed barn, it’s up to you to choose the spot that suits you best.
One of my favourite wedding locations at Leeds Castle has to be Maiden’s Tower. This elegant exclusive-hire venue sits on the castle island and it’s a perfect self-contained bolthole for your wedding with capacity for up to 80 guests. You’ve got your own gardens, bedrooms and space to really celebrate.
During my trip, I also got a sneak peek at the latest surprise that Leeds Castle will be offering up later this year. Battel Hall was built in the early 14th Century as a medieval manor house but it’s about to become a venue for all seasons in its own part of the estate. A delightful ceremony room, outside spaces including a garden pergola for weddings, bedrooms and a real home-from-home charm that’s just irresistible will make Battel Hall somewhere really special for intimate weddings and super romantic elopements. I can’t wait to see Battel Hall come back to life.
Lastly, we need to talk about owls. Yes, owls. You see, Leeds Castle is home to a falconry team who look after a number of birds of prey and some of the most talented owls you ever did see. These owls can deliver your wedding rings to you at just the right moment in your ceremony and we had a little preview of their ring-bearing prowess. It was amazing, wonderful and really rather special so yes, utterly perfect for weddings.
My visit to Leeds Castle was really rather fantastic. The venue itself is so incredibly special but the atmosphere, the staff and everything about the Castle all come together in a way that’s just remarkable. There’s a sense of permanence, plenty of history, modern luxuries and timeless touches. It’s a combination that anyone would fall in love with. I did.
To find out more about weddings at Leeds Castle, do take a look at the website. You’ll find lots of information here about all the locations, options and packages that are available and also details of the finishing touches that the team can organise for you (including owl ring delivery!).
For the pricing information or to arrange to visit Leeds Castle yourself to start planning your wedding, get in touch with the hospitality team on 01622 767877 or email email@example.com. You can also view the wedding brochure here and don’t forget to take a look at the special offers that are currently available too.
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