A Little about Leeds Castle and Lady Baillie

CarolStarred Page By Carol, 9th Aug 2017 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/ooq-vzin/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Culture>General

Leeds Castle now belongs to the National Trust, and I recently visited to find out more about its history. Read on to find out more.

A Little about Leeds Castle, and Lady Baillie

Leeds castle , back in the 12 century, became the residence of Richard 1st , but it is believed that it dates back to the 9th century , where some form of a building stood on the site.

During the sixteenth century Henry 8th made improvements to it whilst he was married to Catherine of Aragon. It was a frequent stop off point for them on their way to Dover. It was used by various royal figures for centuries, and later Robert Fairfax became the owner of it. He lived there for 46 years.

Who would not enjoy such a beautiful setting in the heart of the countryside, with the river running by? I was lucky enough to visit it last week on a beautiful sunny day. The castle is some 15 minutes walk from the car park, and during that walk you can take in the splendour of the scenery. The path gently winds amongst mature trees and shrubs, whilst the river runs gently by. The ducks are very tame, families of them collect at the edge of the water in hopes that the guests will have some sort of tit bit for them.. The view across the river to the castle is magnificent, it rises against the skyline with such splendour.

Olive, Lady Baillie

Olive, an Anglo American heiress was born in 1899, she was a landowner, and also a hostess. She is famed for owning Leeds Castle, Her father was British, and her mother American. She had a sister Dorothy, who was 6 years her junior, and when their mother died in 1916, both daughters inherited a considerable fortune.

Olive was educated in France, and for a brief period, she was a wartime nurse. In 1919 she married for the first time to Hon Charles John Frederick Winn, who was the son of Baron St Oswald of Nostell Priory in Yorkshire. They had two daughters, Pauline, born in 1920, and Susan in 1923. Two years later, in 1925, they were divorced.

Undaunted by this, Oilve married again, later that year to Arthur Wilson Filmer. In 1926 the Wilson Filmers bought Leeds Castle, and although they were divorced in 1931, Olive managed to retain ownership of the castle. It was in a very poor condition, as no-one had lived there since 1924, and many parts of the grounds were overgrown. Olive made it her mission to renovate and restore the castle and grounds, which she did until her death in 1974, spending most of her fortune on it..

How she became Lady Baillie

Olive married William Maxwell Bailie in 1931, 6th baronet, which then gave her the title of Lady Baillie. Their one son Gawaine was born in 1934. This marriage also did not last, and they divorced in 1944, and Sir Adrian died in 1947..

During the period of restoration, she employed Owen Little, who was a Surrey architect to redesign entrance lodges, and the stable yard. The internal restoration of the castle was designed by the French designer, Armand- Albert Rateau. The craftsmen who did the work were from France and Italy, as well as Britain. from the period of 1936- 1967 Lady Baillie employed French designer, Stephan Boudin and they worked together to restore and improve the castle.

Lady Baillie became a renowned hostess. She lived with her family in London during the week, and held house parties at the castle at weekends. She had many political visitors, and royalty, including The Prince of Wales, and Mrs Simpson, as well as Princess Marina, and Sir Anthony Eden to name a few.

She was a great lover of the cinema, so her guests also included James Stewart, Charlie Chaplin, and many other film stars of that era. She also put the castle to good use during the 2nd world war, as it was used as a hospital for injured servicemen. During this time, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was also a visitor.

Lady Baillie was a heavy smoker, and during the 1950s, her health began to deteriorate., and by the 1970s she had become dependent on oxygen, and needed the support of a resident nurse. She had given, 3,400 acres of the castle estate to her son Gawaine, in 1966, but her wish was for the castle to be available to the public after her death, for arts and conferences. She bequeathed it to a charitable trust to enable it to be open to the public. Now owned by the National Trust, it is furnished very much in keeping with the period of time when Lady Baillie and her family lived there. The early 20th century furniture and furnishings feature a bygone elegance , the rooms are spacious and light with panoramic views over the estate.

Outside there is a walled garden and greenhouses, and further down the steps towards the riverside lies Ladie Baillie's own personal gardens, which stretch along the river bank with seats overlooking the beautiful views. There is also a maze, and in recent years, a children's play area has also been constructed.

You can easily spend a day wandering the castle grounds, and admiring the views, and one has to feel grateful to Lady Baillie for restoring this beautiful historic building, which is steeped with history, so that we can enjoy visiting it. Parking is free, and there are knowledgeable staff to explain various questions you may have about its history. I would thoroughly recommend Leeds Castle for a great day out.

my thanks to Wikipedia for the images and Youtube for the video
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Tags

Beautiful, Henry 8Th 12Th Century, Hostess, Lady Baillie, Leeds Castle, National Ttust, Robert Fairfax

Meet the author

author avatar Carol
I am a proud mother and grandmother, and an author. I have had 7 books published. My hobbies are walking, swimming, and playing badminton. I try to raise more awareness of autism with my writing.

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