Described by historian Lord Conway as “the loveliest castle in the world”, Leeds has, in its long history, been a Norman stronghold, the private property of six of England’s medieval queens, a palace used by Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon, a Jacobean country house, a Georgian mansion and an elegant 20th century retreat for the influential and famous.
In the 21st century, it has become one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain. A royal residence for 300 years, it became a private home in the mid-16th century and was passed down – by both inheritance and purchase – through a network of interlinked families for the next four centuries.
The last private owner was the Hon. Olive, Lady Baillie, a wealthy Anglo-American heiress, who acquired the Castle in 1926 when it was sold to pay death duties.
Chartwell was the much-loved family home of Sir Winston Churchill, Britain’s Prime Minister during World War II. He lived here from 1924 until his death in 1965.
The rooms remain much as they were then, with pictures, books and mementoes evoking the career and wide-ranging interests of a great statesman, writer, painter and family man. The hillside gardens reflect Sir Winston’s love of landscape and nature.
They include the lakes he created, the kitchen garden and the Marycot, a playhouse designed for his youngest daughter Mary. Beyond the gardens there is an expanse of woodland with circular trails and natural play areas.
A house has stood on the site since at least as early as the 16th century and Henry VIII is reputed to have stayed here during his courtship of Anne Boleyn.
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