Perfect Retreats: Leeds Castle and Chartwell or Hever Castle
Visit Leeds Castle, sitting in splendid isolation on two islands in a lake in Kent, so secure that it has been a royal palace, home to six queens, a private mansion and a summit venue. Chartwell, 20 miles west, was the beloved country home of Sir Winston Churchill and his family.
Hever Castle in West Kent, childhood home of Anne Boleyn and then refuge of Anne of Cleves, was later bought by William Waldorf Astor.
Leeds Castle: Castle tour – River Len walk – Maze and Grotto – Culpeper and Lady Baillie Gardens.
Chartwell: House – The Study – Lady Churchill’s Sitting Room and Bedroom – Dining Room – Museum Room – Gardens – The Studio.
Hever Castle: Castle – formal gardens – Tudor portraits – armour collection – Anne Boleyn’s Book of Hours – yew and water mazes.
The first of six queens to own Leeds Castle was Eleanor of Castile in the 13th century. Private tours of Leeds Castle and Chartwell wind through mediaeval and Tudor apartments – imagine Isabella, wife of King Edward II, refused entry in 1320, or King Henry VIII staying with a retinue of 5,000 on his way to the Field of the Cloth of Gold. It also includes rooms redesigned in the 1930s. The Anglo-American heiress Lady Baillie entertained lavishly here until the 1970s: your private tours of Leeds Castle and Chartwell Driver-Guide will tell you exactly who stayed and even show you the dog collar museum!
Stroll by the River Len, try out the maze (someone climbs a ladder to help if you get lost) and enjoy the gardens maintained by Lady Baillie. Then continue your private customised tour with a drive across the distinctive Kentish Weald, once an ancient forest, to Chartwell.
Churchill bought his country home without telling his wife and it was his second great love. It is a tall redbrick house in lovely gardens and your Driver-Guide will explain how Britain’s wartime prime minister lived here, in good times and bad. His Garter Banner hangs in the study where he wrote his speeches, the library is full of books and photographs and he spent happy hours painting in his garden studio.
Then drive across the Kentish Weald, formerly an ancient forest, on our guided tours of Hever Castle once home to the second queen of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn. You can see her exquisite Books of Hours on display and envisage her childhood spent within its walls. Your guide will show you the oldest parts of the castle, the Tudor addition that Anne lived in, stunning 16th century portraits, and early 20th century additions by the American multi-millionaire William Waldorf Astor.