Leeds Castle is a Grade I listed castle on a 500 acre estate to the east of the village of Leeds in Kent. It was built on a pair of small islands in a lake (which form a natural moat around it), fed by the River Len. It is formed of four separate, principal buildings: the main Castle, the Gloriette (or Keep), the Maiden’s Tower, and the Gatehouse. Leeds is said to have derived its name from Ledian, chief minister to the King of Kent Ethelbert IV.
The history of the property is varied and longstanding as there existed a Saxon royal manor here as early as 857 AD. It was appropriated during the Norman invasion and then rebuilt as a more substantial stone dwelling. From 1278 the castle belonged to the crown and in its time, has been home to six of England’s medieval queens; was a palace used by Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon; a Jacobean country house; a Georgian mansion; an elegant early 20th century retreat for the influential and famous; and now in the 21st century, it has evolved into one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain. It remained in private ownership until 1974 and has since been open to the public, being managed by The Leeds Castle Foundation.
The main buildings are all constructed from Kentish Ragstone which although a robust, hard weathering limestone, has in places deteriorated to a point of replacement. PAYE’s works in this phase are centred on the South-central elevation of main Castle. Project works are focused on the replacement of non-functioning weatherings, the light de-frassing of exfoliating stone & consolidation with mortars and sheltercoats – the aim being to help manage rainwater away from the vertical elevations. In addition to this both timber repairs and new sandcast leadwork will be completed to the roofs of both East & West turrets and areas of redecoration will be completed.
The contract is set to run over approximately 6 months, with completion set for March 2019.