Thursday, 27 February 2014

Celebrate Leeds Castle's 40th Anniversary with a limited Edition commemorative Canterbury Bear

Visit the Leeds Castle shops to take home a very special edition commemorative Canterbury Bear!

The trio of famously British’ bears have been specially created in 2014 for the Castle in celebration of the charities 40th anniversary and are an extremely limited edition.  

In 1974, The Leeds Castle Foundation first opened the Castle and grounds to the public, which remains open daily and continues to attract visitors from around the world.  

‘Henry’ is named after King Henry VIII, who owned the Castle and transformed it from a fortified stronghold into a magnificent royal palace for his first wife Catherine of Aragon from 1517 to 1523.  He is priced at £40 and is very huggable – unlike his namesake!

‘Charles’ takes his name from the Honourable Charles John Winn, first husband of the last private owner Lady Baillie and a serving officer with the 10th Hussars. Charles was the man who inspired Lady Baillie to buy Leeds Castle. He is priced at £60 and made of mohair.

‘William’ is named after Lady Baillie’s grandfather William Whitney. He was a US Navy Secretary who later amassed a great fortune, ultimately helping to restore Leeds Castle as we see it today. He is price at £85 and is also made of mohair.

Canterbury Bears have over thirty years experience in making exceptional quality bears and supplying to retailers including Harrods, V&A Museum, Disney, Liberty's and Orient Express.

The same love and dedication goes into each and every one of the handcrafted bears which are designed to last a lifetime and beyond.

Kerstin Blackburn MD of Canterbury Bears said:

“We are delighted to be working with Leeds Castle and are proud to be able to support such a prestigious historic and local landmark. It is an excellent opportunity for our beautiful bears to be seen by people from across the county, country and the world.”

Bob Needham, Retail Manager at Leeds Castle said:

“I’m really excited that we have been able to partner with a local handcrafting supplier in Kent on these gorgeous bears. There will be some very lucky children and collectors who will have a wonderful heirloom to delight their children and grandchildren, just as their purchase helps protect the castle for now and future generations.”

You do not need an admission ticket for the Leeds Castle Shop at the main entrance and car parking is free. 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Bringing Kent’s historic golf course back to its former glory

Major two-year investment project underway, to revitalise the Leeds Castle Golf Course and re-establish one of the “most iconic opening golf holes in the world”. 

Bridge built by Armand-Albert Rateau in the late 1920’s over the Broomfield road to join the Leeds Castle golf course
During the ‘Golden Age’, when Hollywood stars and the rich and famous of the 1930s were being entertained at Leeds Castle weekend houseparties by the last private owner Lady Baillie – a lesser known but equally significant chapter of the castle’s history was happening outside….on the golf course.

In 1931, Lady Baillie agreed to the construction of the golf course, as she felt that a vast expanse of beautifully laid-out trees and mowed grass, leading to an expansive sheet of water, with the castle as the focal point in the middle, would create as idyllic a country scene as could “humanly be devised”.

Eminent golf course architects of the day, Sir Guy Campbell, Cecil Hutchinson and Stafford Hotchkin, were commissioned to design a course where “no bunkers would be visible from the castle”, which would not “interrupt the skyline with a flagpole on a green”.

The end result was a unique nine-hole course considered by many at the time to be one of Britain’s finest, which remains open daily to players of all abilities.   

Since its completion, the course has hosted many of the world’s top professional golfers, including American professional Walter Hagen, a major figure in golf in the first half of the 20th century and Gene Sarazen, also American and one of the world's top players in the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1935 and 1937, the American Ryder Cup teams stayed at Leeds Castle en route to Southport and Ainsdale for the Ryder Cup matches.

Later during the 1970s and following their victory, members of the American Walker Cup team stayed at the castle as guests of Lady Baillie’s husband, Sir Adrian Baillie. The team played a number of matches on the course in preparation for the British Amateur Tournament.   

Walker Cup Team visit Leeds Castle as guests of Sir Adrian Baillie

Today, the historic nine-hole golf course at Leeds Castle is undergoing a major two-year ‘facelift’, which will be completed in 2016, 85 years after it was first opened for play!

The stunning views of the castle from the course will be restored with the addition of new vistas, created by thinning out existing overgrown woodlands.

Over the coming weeks and months, work will begin on remodelling parts of the current course in keeping with Sir Guy Campbell’s original vision.

Campbell’s approach to designing a new course was simple and practical; make use of natural hazards but avoid trees, avoid building up teeing grounds, never build high plateau greens, use as little manures as possible and do any weeding by hand! 

Although Sir Guy will not see the exciting modifications due to take place on his course at Leeds Castle, some of his original holes will be retained and, in some cases, re-instated.  

To supervise these changes PGA Master Pro and EIGCA Golf Course Architect Alan Walker, has been appointed and brings his expertise to the project.

Mr Walker said:

“I’m very excited and privileged to be able to oversee the restoration of this unique course back to its former glory.

The program is both a restoration and an agronomy project. From an architectural standpoint, there will be some changes to the individual golf holes, but the main change will come in 2016 with the re-routing of the nine hole course and restoring the classic opening hole playing around the moat with the castle in full view. It will be once again one of the most iconic opening golf holes in the world.

The programme will be phased over two years with the renovation of all bunkers and teeing grounds one of the first jobs to complete. We are also reviewing the current irrigation system and updating where necessary.

Charles Henderson of Sports Agronomy Services will plan and manage the agronomic changes to the golf course. Charles has a wealth of knowledge and experience in sports turf working on numerous golf courses around the world. The implementation of his plan has already commenced and the golf course will begin to show signs of improvement as the months progress.

Our ultimate plan is to upgrade the golf course and enhance the overall golf offering in the coming years. We wish to create a sense of pride of place for golf at Leeds Castle”.

Shane Guy, Head of Tourism for Leeds Castle, said:

“We are proud to be able to invest in the product and bring the golf course back to the standards that are expected of Leeds Castle.

The course has, and will continue to, provide a leisure facility for our conference, wedding and accommodation customers as well as visiting golfers.

Whilst the work is in progress we will remain open and golfers will start to see a rise in standards of the course.

We want to provide a facility that meets the requirements of all levels of golfers, and one that shows quality throughout the year.”

From 1 April, there will be two new ways to enjoy golf at Leeds Castle.   

The new ‘One Under Card’ gives seven rounds of golf for the price of six with prices starting from just £70. For those wishing to play unlimited golf, you can now purchase a ‘Season Ticket’ for five or seven days with prices starting from as little as £295 per year.  

Follow @LeedsCastleGolf for updates on the project.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Romantic ideas for Valentine’s Day at Leeds Castle

What are your Valentine’s Day plans this Friday? insideKENT voted Leeds Castle number one in there Top 10 Romantic Spots in Kent, so why not bring your loved one to visit?

Here are a few romantic ideas of how you could spend Valentine’s with a special someone at Leeds Castle

Take a stroll through the grounds
Take a romantic stroll hand-in-hand with your loved one through our stunning woodlands.

Get lost together in our maze
Back in the heyday of English maze design, mazes were places where lovers could escape together in secrecy. So what could be more romantic then getting lost in the spiraling yew maze holding hands with someone special?

Say it with flowers in the Lady Baillie Garden
Designed by the landscape architect, Christopher Carter, on the site of Lady Baillie's original aviary the garden is a favourite destination for visitors to the castle. With its south facing aspect and Mediterranean style, take a seat and enjoy superb views across the Great Water.

Be Lord and Lady of the Castle for the day
Wander through the stunning rooms and discover the fascinating history of Leeds Castle.

See how the influence of Lady Baillie, the last private owner of the castle continues to bring the state rooms to life while seeing the effect of Medieval and Tudor periods in many of the other castle rooms.

Spend a romantic Valentine’s night with your loved one at “the loveliest castle in the world”. On arrival celebrate with an intimate champagne drinks reception followed by a guided tour of the castle. A delicious three-course candle lit dinner with a bottle of wine will be served in the Banqueting Hall accompanied by a live pianist. Relax after dinner in the opulent Drawing Rooms by the open fire over coffee and chocolates.
Evening price - £199 per couple
Make the evening a night to remember and retire to one of the magnificent castle bedrooms including a full English breakfast served the following morning. 

Take in the views (and the food) in The Great British Kitchen
On the 14th and 15th February enjoy a set menu with three courses including a glass of Sparkling Rose for £24.95 in the oak-beamed 17th Century restaurant. With spectacular views from the terrace of the 900 year old Leeds Castle beautifully lit at night and a sharing platter of Strawberry cheesecake, dark chocolate pot, Champagne trifle…what more could you want for Valentine’s Day?

Buy a romantic gift
If you have left it too late to buy a gift then why not pop into our shops on Valentine’s to pick up something extra special.