Sunday 16 September 2012

Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle, built in 1119, served as a Norman stronghold in the county of Kent. It stands on three islands in a man-made lake. This is the barbican, or gatehouse, leading into Leeds Castle Island.

In 1278 King Edward I came into possession of the Castle. As his favourite residence, he put considerable resources into restoration. It is thought that he was responsible for the creation of the lake and moat from the nearby River Len in the 13th century.

The Tudor castle that stands today is the result of major rebuilding completed in 1823.

Leeds Castle has been a fortress as well as the private property of six medieval queens and kings, including Henry VIII. Above is the fireplace in the Henry VIII banqueting hall in which had bay windows installed to take advantage of the pastoral views.

Over centuries Leeds Castle passed from royal hands into ownership by various wealthy families.

Lady Baillie, the last private owner, undertook major improvements in the interiors. She entertained lavishly in the castle and its 500 acre parkland. Upon her death in 1974, a private charitable trust was established to preserve the castle and grounds for the benefit of the public.

Thursday 13 September 2012


Canterbury has been a city in the County of Kent since pre-historic times. The Romans used it as a major settlement. By 597 it was the seat of the first Archbishop of England, St. Augustine, who had been sent by the Pope as a Roman missionary. The actual cathedral was rebuilt starting in 1077.
Today there are 45,000 people living in the area which relies upon tourism. Over one million visitors a year come to visit the cathedral.
Christchurch Gate
There is also a large foreign student population attending nearby colleges.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the leader of the Church of England. For Anglicans, including US Episcopalians, this cathedral is their Mother Church. Services are held daily with visitors made welcome daily.
The oldest part of the cathedral dates from the 11th century with the last major renovations completed in 1834. There is currently work being done to restore some of the priceless stained glass windows and on the masonry.
Anglicans have made pilgrimages to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket, the most famous Archbishop of Canterbury, since medieval times. The candle burns on the spot of his original tomb which was located where he was killed in 1170. He chose to support the church over the will of King Henry II for which he paid the ultimate price.