The Garden Guide

Leeds Castle and Culpeper Gardens

The Gloriette sits at the heart of a designed medieval landscape and allowed queens to admire the prowess of their husbands as huntsmen - in what is now a golf course.
Photograph © Leeds Castle
Photograph © Leeds Castle
Photograph © Leeds Castle

The castle, which was once a royal palace, stands in a lake in a park. It is very beautiful but nothing remains of the medieval or Tudor gardens which the castle surely had. The tower, described as a 'Gloriette', was designed as a place from which to view the park. There is also a garden, named after the herbalist Nicholas Culpeper, which was started by Russell Page in 1980 and is now mature. In 1987 a maze with a grotto was added. The designers were Randall Coate and Adrian Fisher. The Woodland Garden has meandering streams. The Lady Baillie Garden overlooks the lake and has a red brick Arts and Crafts style.

Edward 1 built the Gloriette (a medieval term for a summerhouse) for Queen Eleanor. It stood on two small islands. Henry VII transformed the castle into a royal palace for his first wife, Katherine of Aragon. Elizabeth I was imprisioned here, briefly, before she became queen. The castle landscape has both historical and scenic romance.

See blog post on Leeds castle garden.

Head Gardener's Comment

The Grounds and Wood Garden A 3,000-acre estate originally surrounded the castle. The parkland is now much smaller, but still contains farms, woodland, a golf course and several gardens. In Spring, the Wood Garden alongside the River Len is a particularly lovely way to approach the castle. Its carpet of Daffodils, Narcissi and Anemones presents a vibrant burst of colour. Later in the year, the visitor is treated to the splendor of Azaleas and Rhododendrons.


The Culpeper Garden Named after the family who owned Leeds Castle in the 17th century; the Culpeper Garden was originally the site of the castle’s kitchen garden. During Lady Baillie's ownership it became a cut flower garden, but in 1980 garden designer Russell Page transformed it into a large cottage garden. With its informal layout and low box hedges as a border this very English garden features Roses, Lupins, Poppies and Lads' Love, with exotic blooms mixed in to create a profusion of colour and scent. The Lady Baillie Garden Opened in 1999 by HRH Princess Alexandra, Patron of the Leeds Castle Foundation, the Lady Baillie Garden was designed by the landscape architect, Christopher Carter, on the site of Lady Baillie's original aviary. With its south facing aspect and Mediterranean style, the Lady Baillie Garden is a favourite destination for visitors to the castle, where they can relax and enjoy superb views across the Great Water.

Maidstone, Kent, England, ME17 1PL

April to September (Grounds open at 10am daily) Castle opens: 10:30am Last admission: 4:30pm Gates close: 6:00pm Shops: 10:00am - 5:30pm Castle closed: Closed 13 July, 9 & 10 November and Christmas Day 2013. Please check online.

2013 prices Key to the Castle tickets allow visitors to pay once and visit all year round and cost £21.00 for Adults; £18.50 for Seniors and visitors with disabilities (carer goes free); £13.50 for Children (under 4s free). Every ticket to Leeds Castle is valid for 12 months and includes entry to an extensive programme of varied and exciting events (excluding special ticketed events).

Visit the Leeds Castle and Culpeper Gardens website

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  • over 3 years by Anonymous 1 / 5

    only been going for a couple of years and can only presume the recession has hit the castle hard, no aviary? empty buildings by play area, if you talk to the knowledgeable staff they seem to be gone the next time you visit. The best part should you find it is the Culpeper garden I wonder how long that will be so? Definately not worth the entrance fee £19 for an adult and the food is expensive, there are better places for less money. Avoid particularly if raining as there is no shelter on this large site. One star is too generous really.
  • about 5 years by Anonymous 5 / 5

    I was last there 2 years ago and despite the harsh winter and recent drought still looking really good
  • almost 7 years by C.Brown 5 / 5

    The roses in June looked better than ever
  • almost 7 years by Alan.T. 1 / 5

    Average Hobby gardening.
  • about 7 years by H. Kothe 4 / 5

    I visited Leeds castle gardens in July 2008. It is a very nice place and a great harmony between the castle, the lake and the garden. My children (12 and 15 years) also enjoyed the day in the garden.
  • about 7 years by Ivor Pinion 5 / 5

    Best garden in Kent
  • over 7 years by Richard Swipe 4 / 5

    I visited last week and I thought they were looking great, the staff there were also so knowledgable and able to answer all my gardening questions.
  • almost 8 years by Anonymous 1 / 5

    We agree, seems the basics of gardening are not being done.
  • almost 8 years by Anonymous 1 / 5

    what ever has happened at Leeds Castle in 2008? The gardens are a mess.No leaves on the roses (July) and hanging baskets that are nearly dead. Weeds everywhere.

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