Leeds Castle in Maidstone, Kent, has been referred to as one of the finest castles in England. Situated on two islands in the River Len, Leeds Castle was originally built as a work of love by Edward I for his queen Eleanor of Castile. The castle has a long history of courageous women: Anne of Bohemia and Catherine of Aragon both spent time at Leeds Castle, and Elizabeth I was imprisoned here briefly prior to becoming queen. The last private owner of the castle was Lady Baillie, who expanded the original gardens and is the inspiration for the annual Autumn Glory Festival held at Leeds Castle every October.
For five wonderful days in October, flower arrangements throughout the castle create a magical display of colour, scent, and texture. Florists and gardening clubs compete to produce award winning arrangements, and members of the public are invited to vote for their favourite creation. The theme for this year's Autumn Glory Festival is the Roaring 20's. Think flappers, jazz and innovative artists, and get ready for some unique and exciting floral arrangements reflecting this wild and optimistic period in our history.
A tour of the beautiful gardens of Leeds Castle is one of the memorable bonuses of the Autumn Glory Festival. The Culpeper garden, once the site of the castle's kitchen garden, was transformed by Lady Baillie into a cut flower garden, but in 1980 it was transformed again into a marvelous cottage garden thanks to the genius of garden designer Russell Page. The Lady Baillie Garden, a visitor favourite opened in 1999 by HRH Princess Alexandra, is a Mediterranean style garden designed by Christopher Carter. No visit to the Autumn Glory Festival would be complete without a walk through the Leeds Castle Maze, which was constructed in 1988, with over 2,400 yew trees planted to create an intricate path to the stone grotto at its centre.
The Autumn Glory Festival is a true feast for the senses and this year’s event takes place from October 5th through October 9th. Hours of admission to the castle are from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm. This city offers so much in the form of entertainment whether it be the louder sounds from the Summer Bands in The Park or the chilled out feel of this castle festival. if you are planning on making the trip to any of these events and need a hotel, check out the Jurys Inn range of hotels.