I recently visited Leeds Castle in Kent, a fabulous setting near Maidstone. I've visited Leeds Castle in Kent on a number of occasions, the grounds are great for picnics and family days out with its maze, grotto and great children’s play areas (the entrance fee is for a year), but what many visitors may not realise is that Leeds castle is available to hire for weddings including being licensed for civil ceremonies.
View from across the lake as you walk up to the Castle
To get to the main castle you walk through the immaculately kept grounds, pass the lake through the Gatehouse over the moat and up to the Castle. What struck me most on entering the castle is that despite being a medieval castle it feels fresh and airy (with no musty old building smell). Your wedding is spread across a number of rooms; guests are led through the Library into the Dining room where ceremony takes place, which is delightfully decorated in pastel shades, having been redesigned for Lady Baillie by a leading interior designer of the time.
The Dining Room
The day is timed so that although on arrival the castle and grounds are still open to the public by the time the ceremony is over all the public have departed and you have exclusive use of the grounds. Following the ceremony guests are taken on a private tour of the castle (giving you plenty of opportunity for photos in the grounds) before being escorted by the in-house butler to dine in Henry VIII's Banqueting Hall overlooked by a painting of Henry VIII above the log fire and amazing views across the grounds through the fabulous bay windows.
Henry VIII’s Banqueting Hall
After dinner guests are then invited for drinks in the main hall and to celebrate the rest of the evening by dancing in the Heraldry Room or lounging in the Yellow and Thorpe Hall Drawing rooms.
There are also 20 rooms available to use in the Castle, on a bed & breakfast basis. The rooms range in sizes, five have four poster beds and the large bridal suites are large indeed and beautifully furnished with genuine antiques, again with stunning views of the grounds. There are also further rooms available to hire a short walk away from the main castle, some of which have recently undergone a lovely refurbishment. If you are having a destination wedding with guests coming from abroad you can even hire out vacation cottages in the grounds on a weekly hire.
As well the Castle there are also three other spaces available for weddings. The intimate Gatehouse, one of the oldest parts of the castle, for up to 50 guests and the Fairfax Hall, a restored Kentish timber-framed barn which when used with the Terrace room, an open terrace that overlooks the castle island, can accommodate up to 170 guests. You can also combine the spaces and have a small ceremony in the Gatehouse followed by a larger reception in the Fairfax Hall
The Fairfax Hall
With such large grounds there is also the option of hiring a marquee from mid June to early July on the Cedar Lawn. There is also the Leeds Castle hot air balloon available to hire for weddings, what better way to wow your guests.
Catering is done in-house by Leith’s, a well established catering company that work throughout the country and having tried the food the day I visited it was very tasty. They are very flexible and open to suggestions when it comes to your menu choices and include a tasting in the wedding package. There is also an in-house florist that will supply all your floral needs for inside the Castle, if marrying in the Fairfax Hall you can have your own choice of florist.
View as you walk back down towards the Castle from the Fairfax Hall
For further details of the packages available see the Leeds Castle website here
To see a wedding at Leeds Castle, Kent take a look at this fabulous wedding via The English Wedding Blog.
Thank you to Rita for taking the interior shots of Leeds Castle on my camera, exterior shots by me.