Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Preserving Leeds Castle: The Gloriette Masonry Repairs

You may have noticed that scaffolding has started to be put up around the Gloriette. As part of the on-going preservation work undertaken by the Leeds Castle Charitable Foundation, a restoration project is taking place this winter and again next winter requiring a major programme of stonework repair, replacing up to 30% of the stone and pointing with lime mortar.

The Gloriette (or Keep) dates in part from the late 13th century and is the oldest part of the main castle building. It was erected in the 1280s by Edward I on the foundations of the original 12th century stronghold, and is built on a D-shaped footprint, following the outline of the small island on which it sits. At that time it would have been a mostly single-storey structure built around a central courtyard and with internal walls of timber. In the 16th century the upper floor was added to the Gloriette when a suite of royal apartments were prepared for Henry VIII.

In the 1660s the Gloriette was severely damaged by fire and had partially collapsed, before its fortunes were transformed by Fiennes Wykeham Martin who rebuilt it as part of his major restoration of the castle in 1822.

1660s Fire - arson by Dutch Prisoners of War 

The Gloriette just prior to the 1822 restoration
The Gloriette is built of ragstone, a local stone which is very soft. Weather and the passage of time impact on buildings of this age and they need attention at regular stages during their history.

The railway line used for the 1927 restoration
The restoration project will cost nearly £1.7 million, funded by our visitors. Universal StoneLtd. a company with much experience in restoring heritage buildings will carry out the work for us.

We very much hope the project will not inconvenience you during your visit and are grateful to you all for your support, without which preservation of these great buildings would not be possible. 

The Leeds Castle Foundation exists to preserve Leeds Castle for the benefit of the public. If you would like to help us, there are donation boxes around the estate or you can donate by texting LCGH01 plus amount to 70070.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Leeds Castle encourages local students to get creative!

Leeds Castle has announced the winner of a design competition, run last year in conjunction with Invicta Grammar School in Maidstone.
Students were encouraged to get creative and design some new characters for Leeds Castle, which would appeal to a younger audience whilst still reflecting the history of the castle.
Hannah Marno, aged 18, was the winner for her excellent creation of a full set of characters, each with their own personalities and fitting the brief exactly.
Retail Manager at Leeds Castle, Bob Needham said:
“We were really excited and impressed with all the entries we received and very grateful for the time, consideration and effort that has obviously gone in to the work. They were all great pieces and there are obviously some budding artists and designers at Invicta Grammar School!”
Hannah’s characters include a knight called Sir John, a Princess ‘with attitude’ called Catherine, Arthur the Peacock, Lancelot the Black Swan and the Merlin the White Swan.
Since the competition ended last year, Leeds Castle has been working with Hannah to adapt and develop the characters, which have been reproduced onto life-size cut  outs, for the enjoyment of younger visitors to the Knight’s Realm Playground at the Castle.
Due to the outstanding quality of the illustrations produced, Leeds Castle also commissioned Hannah to produce more drawings of her characters, which will shortly be launched on a wide range of merchandise in the retail outlets at the Castle. 
The merchandise includes notebooks, mugs, key rings and stationary ranging from £1-£5.
Hannah recently finished her last year at Invicta Grammar School and is about to start College where she will study for a degree in Graphic Illustration, which will hopefully lead to a career in the creative industries sector.
Hannah was also one of only two students from Invicta Grammar School to receive a bursary from the Benenden branch of NADFAS, to support her development as an artist. 
Invicta Grammar School, which specialises in business and enterprise,  has built a successful business partnership with the Castle over the last few years and is proud of this first successful retail venture which has given school pupils the opportunity to work on live commercial briefs provided by business partners – an important aspect of the educational experience.
The retail partnership will continue with two new cushion designs, which will be available in time for Christmas from the Leeds Castle shops.

One cushion will depict the black swan and will be produced using the Invicta CAM embroidery machines. The other design will feature a jacquard fabric, designed by Invicta student Lucy Hennessy, woven in Italy as part of the British Council Comenius partnership with Invicta’s business partner school Enrico Tosi, in Busto Arzizio near Milan in northern Italy.  

Monday, 2 September 2013

Cinema under the stars at Leeds Castle

Tickets are on sale now for two evenings of classic cinema under the stars at Leeds Castle, on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 September 2013.

The Luna Cinema are the country's leading producer of open air cinema, and will present on a giant inflatable screen – “The Blues Brothers and “Casablanca”, two unforgettable films with the stunning backdrop of the 900 year old castle.

On Friday night, sing along to ‘Rawhide’ with Jake and Elwood Blues at our screening of the cult 1980 American musical comedy “The Blues Brothers” starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.

Then on Saturday evening, enjoy one of the most beloved American films, “Casablanca”. Follow the WWII romance of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, from that infamous Moroccan gin joint.

The whole family will enjoy these late summer evenings of outdoor cinema. Bring a picnic rug and try some spatchcock chicken or hickory smoked rump beef from official caterers Cock 'n' Bull Rotisserie.

The Luna Cinema 2013 season is proudly sponsored by Haagen Dazs.

Gates open at 6pm for both events and tickets must be pre-booked. They cost £15 for adults and £12 for children aged 5 – 15 (Casablanca only). Visit www.leeds-castle.com/events