Thursday

The Moat and Gatehouse at Leeds Castle

The Moat and Gatehouse at Leeds Castle
Built in 1119 by Robert de Crevecoeur to replace the earlier Saxon manor of Esledes, the castle became a royal palace in 1278 for King Edward I of England and his queen, Eleanor of Castile. Major improvements were made during his time, including the barbican, made up of three parts, each with its own entrance, drawbridge, gateway and portcullis.

The castle was captured on 31 October 1321 by the forces of Edward II from Margaret de Clare, Baroness Badlesmere, wife of the castle's governor, Bartholomew de Badlesmere, 1st Baron Badlesmere who had left her in charge during his absence. The King had besieged Leeds after she had refused Edward's consort Isabella of France admittance; when the latter had sought to force an entry Baroness Badlesmere had instructed her archers to fire upon the Queen and her party, six of whom were killed.

Richard II's first wife, Anne of Bohemia, spent the winter of 1381 at the castle on her way to be married to the king. In 1395, King Richard II received the French chronicler Jean Froissart there, as Froissart described in his Chronicles.

Henry VIII transformed the castle for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and a painting commemorating his meeting with Francis I of France still hangs there. His daughter, Queen Elizabeth I was imprisoned in the castle for a time before her coronation.

Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron was born at Leeds Castle. Consequently, there is a sundial at Fairfax, Virginia, telling the time in Leeds Castle, and a sundial at Leeds Castle telling the time in Virginia.

The castle escaped destruction during the English Civil War because its owners, the Culpeper family, sided with the Parliamentarians. The last private owner of the castle was the Hon. Olive, Lady Baillie, a daughter of Almeric Paget, 1st Baron Queenborough, and his first wife, Pauline Payne Whitney, an American heiress. Lady Baillie bought the castle in 1926. She redecorated the interior, first working with the French architect and designer Armand-Albert Rateau (who also oversaw exterior alterations as well as adding interior features such as a 16th century-style carved-oak staircase) and then, later, with the Paris decorator St├ęphane Boudin. During WWII Lady Baillie hosted burned Commonwealth airmen at the castle as part of their recovery. Survivors remember the experience with fondness to this day. Upon her death in 1974, Lady Baillie left the castle to the Leeds Castle Foundation, a private charitable trust whose aim is to preserve the castle and grounds for the benefit of the public.



View From The Tower

View From The Tower
Towers (or keeps) are the central part of any defensive castle plans. Often round and hollow they would have living quarters on the upper floors. If they were part of a town wall or an outer ring then the rear of the tower would often be open.

The largest tower was probably at Caernarvon castle which was 21m in diameter. Generally castle towers were half this size. A rectangular tower or keep suffered from the dead ground at its angles which effectively became a blind spot in the defenses and laid it appleby castle keepopen to mining as at Rochester castle.

Castles in France probably developed solutions to this quicker than anywhere else. The round defenses at Houdan (approx. 1110 AD to 1125 AD) being probably the first significant change.

Although polygonal keeps were quite rare in France the round tower was adopted much more quickly. Strangely round towers or keeps were developed much later in England.

Round towers can be built on square or rectangular bases such as at Cardigan castle. They can also be found on polygonal (usually semi-octagonal) bases such as at Picton (Pembroke).

The Follies


The Follies
In architecture, a folly is a building constructed primarily for decoration, but either suggesting by its appearance some other purpose, or merely so extravagant that it transcends the normal range of garden ornaments or other class of building to which it belongs. In the original use of the word, these buildings had no other use, but from the 19th to 20th centuries the term was also applied to highly decorative buildings which had secondary practical functions such as housing, sheltering or business use.

18th century English gardens and French landscape gardening often featured Roman temples, which symbolized classical virtues or ideals. Other 18th century garden follies represented Chinese temples, Egyptian pyramids, ruined abbeys, or Tatar tents, to represent different continents or historical eras. Sometimes they represented rustic villages, mills and cottages, to symbolize rural virtues. Many follies, particularly during famine, such as the Irish potato famine, were built as a form of poor relief, to provide employment for peasants and unemployed artisans.