Halls of Fame

For centuries great players have trod upon these stages, their daily lives unfolding dramas which resounded

other oaken doors of home and berth to shape the destinies of future rations. For no mere dwellings these: are our stately homes and castles, the living repositories of our past, where ancient footfalls still echo along the corridors and a rush of wind may carry with it a voice from centuries ago.

In a land of grand buildings, the Treasure Houses of England, more here,  represent ten of the nation’s most prestigious historic homes. Splendid in aspect, rich in great works of art, alive with tales of courage and romance, they continue a tradition of noble aspiration and cultural patronage. And today they welcome the visitor to share their present as well as to admire the treasures of their glorious past.

Leeds Castle in Kent is everyone’s idea of an idyllic English castle. Floating on two islands in the centre of a lake, it dates ack to the 12th century and is unsur-assed in fairytale perfection. In recent enturies it has been held by three ‘stocratic English families, among them he Culpepers and their heirs, perhaps the reatest landowners in the history of North America. If want tomake a tour in all of this beautiful places please check this hotel comparison website.

But it is the reign here of six medieval ueens which captures the imagination nd reveals a tale of royal romance and the agaries of medieval favour and fortune. Named after the nearby village of Leeds (from the Saxon Esledes), the castle was wilt by a Norman baron in 1119 but as gifted by a royal favourite to King dward I in 1278, signalling the start of hree centuries of royal ownership.

Edward spent much time perfecting the astle’s defences, yet Leeds was primarily retreat for the king and his beloved panish queen, Eleanor of Castile. Here hey enjoyed hunting and rest together, hile Eleanor introduced novel conti-ental refinements such as carpets.

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When Eleanor died in 1290, Edward as so stricken with grief that he estab-ished a chantry at the castle where a daily ass might be celebrated in her name. Queen Margaret, Edward’s second ride, then Queen Isabella and Queen Philippa of Hainault, the wives of Edward I and III, were the next owners of Leeds, followed by Joan of Navarre, second wife of King Henry IV. But it was the last of Leeds’s medieval queens, Catherine de Valois, widow of King Henry V, whose romantic association still sends a ripple across the tranquil waters of the lake. Just 21 years old when her husband died in 1422, Catherine was a lively girl. Youthful yearning conspired with the beautiful setting of Leeds and the queen owager fell in love with the handsome lerk of her wardrobe, Owen Tudor. It was scandalous affair which led to the prisonment of both, though the queen as later released and Owen Tudor scaped. The consequences of the passion ere far reaching, however, for the off-pring of the match was to father Henry udor who later became King Henry VII, e founder of the mighty Tudor dynasty. Leeds also played a part in the star-rossed affairs of King Henry VIII who howered vast sums of money on nlarging the castle. Anne Boleyn was oused here with the royal maids of onour and just eight years after Henry nd his first wife Catherine of Aragon iiited the castle amidst great celebration 1520, Cardinal Wolsey retreated here to et upon the “king’s great matter” — how rid his master of Catherine and thus make way for Anne.