Leeds castle was used as a royal palace beginning in the
12th century. It is surrounded by over 500 acres of park land and
gardens with a beautiful natural lake around the castle itself.
The castle passed into
private hands in the 17th century and, Lady Baillie
established the Leeds Castle Foundation in the 20th century.
The Foundation still administers the castle and gardens.
The grounds are divided by
streams and small lakes. The Duckery provides habitat for 30
species of waterfowl. The woodland garden is resplendent
daffodils and anemonies in the spring. There is also a
large English Cottage Garden that is home to the National
Collection of Bergamot (Monarda species also known as
beebalm, horsemint or oswego tea).
The Leeds Castle vineyard
was mentioned in the famous Domesday Book which was a survey
of all property in the year 1086. The nearby maze has a
secret underground grotto which may be toured.