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Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle is not as you might imagine in Yorkshire but some five miles outside of Maidstone in the county of Kent.

The castle gets its name from the village of Leeds which is nearby; this ancient village is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 although it was called Esledes at the time

The name Esledes means in Old English a hillside or a slope

It is thought that the name Leeds derived from its location above the River Len which flows into the nearby River Medway

There has been a castle on the site since 1119 and in the 13th Century it became one of the favourite residences of King Edward the First.

Three centuries later King Henry the Eighth used Leeds Castle as a residence for Catherine of Aragon his first wife and during this time a great deal of change took place at the castle

The castle saw conflict in 1321 when it was captured by the forces of King Edward the Second

King Henry the Eighth’s meeting with King Francis the First of France at The Field of the Cloth of Gold (near Calais) in June 1520 is commemorated in a painting that still hangs in Leeds Castle.

Unlike other castles Leeds Castle survived the English Civil War because its owner at the time a Sir Cheney Culpepper sided with Oliver Cromwell.

During this period Leeds Castle was used as a prison as well as an arsenal

The castle had connections with Virginia in the United States and when the Wykeham Martin family (who owned the castle) sold off some of their many estates in the New World this money was used to repair and remodel the castle. This work was completed in 1823 and its Mock Tudor style can still be seen today.

During World War Two, Leeds Castle was used as a hospital for soldiers from the Commonwealth suffering from burns.

More recently the castle by the very nature of its defensive position has hosted peace talks designed to resolve conflicts.

On the 17th July 1978 it hosted the peace talks between Israel and Egypt which preceded the Camp David Accords.

In 2004 the castle also hosted the Northern Ireland Peace Talks led by Tony Blair.

Between 1980 and 2011 Leeds Castle had an aviary which contained over one hundred different species of birds.

Leeds Castle currently has a maze, a golf course and what is the world’s only museum of dog collars (!)

Leeds Castle is a Grade 1 Listed Building (1952) and receives over 200,000 visitors each year.

If you are a film buff then you might recognise Leeds Castle as the location of some of the scenes in Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) as well as The Moonraker in 1958 and Waltz of the Toreadors four years later in 1962.

Doctor Who fans will recognise the castle as being the location for the The Androids of Tara in 1978.

Have you brought the pilgrims medallion?

It is in my bag

May I see it?

It is in the top pocket

Pretty unzipped her sisters red rucksack and retrieved a small gold medallion

It’s beautiful so very simple

Nice castle I always thought it was in Yorkshire

Pleb read my notes

It is too hot

You are so lazy we are supposed to be Chaucer’s pilgrims and all you do is stop at every pub

I am not even sure if we are on the trail anymore

Ring Harold she knows everything

No signal

Let’s get moving then Canterbury by night

How romantic

You are my sister

I can still think it is romantic

You are weird Lucy

Before we go I need a piss

Pop into the castle they will not mind

No I will go over there

The people in the coaches might see you

They are all in the castle

What about the coach drivers?

They are usually sleeping in my experience

Very well but be quick

Lucy vanished behind a small bush leaving Pretty looking at the handsome castle

It is so strong

Well that I imagine is a pre-requisite for any castle

What are you holding?

A lot of things thanks to you

No they look like tickets

They are two tickets for an exhibition at the Tate Modern

Whose show

Fahrelnissa Zeid

Who?

Fahrelnissa Zeid

Never heard of him

Her

Is she foreign?

Obviously

Turkish I think

Will she be there?

She’s dead

That’s a good excuse

Don’t take the piss Lucy

Where did you get the tickets?

Harold

I was going with Solange but she has hurt her ankle again

Can I come I like the Tate?

You might not like the work

What’s it like

I do not know Harold told me to experience it when I arrive

Sounds a load of shit to me

Then I will find somebody else

I hope it is not too modern

If you come you will see

What’s her name?

Fahrelnissa Zeid

When my phone is in area I will Google it so I know what to expect

Don’t show me

You have become very serious all of a sudden

No I just want to be surprised

What happens if you hate the paintings?

I will cross that bridge when I come to it

Lucy looked down and saw that Pretty’s notes were beginning to seperate on the grass as a breeze was beginning to gather

She had placed them near a young tree when they had stopped for lunch

Your Leeds Castle notes are on the grass they might blow away any second 

Let them

Don’t you like your work?

No I can do better

I was thinking about rewriting the notes anyway

When are they due?

August

So you have plenty of time then

The breeze became gusty scattering the notes

Lucy bent down and retrieved each page

Please leave them

I do not litter you are always telling me not to litter

You do not want the coach drivers to read the notes do you? 

I take your point but dispose of them when you see a bin

By the time Lucy and Pretty had reached their hotel it was raining quite hard

Pretty showered and wished her sister a good night

Lucy waited for a few minutes and pulled Pretty’s damp notes from her bag and quietly began copying them on to her lap top