Hi, this is Janalyn. Today I'm announcing a giveaway, so be sure to read to the bottom of the post.
While writing DawnSinger, book one in my epic fantasy trilogy, Tales of Faeraven, I dreamed up a castle that would feature in my book. Imagine my surprise when I came across pictures of Leeds Castle that resembled the stronghold of my imaginings. After learning that Leeds was described by historian, Lord Conway, as the loveliest castle in the world, it all makes sense. Being an admitted nut about the middle ages, I am obviously in tune with castle amenities. Leeds must have been really something back in the day, if such a noteworthy castle expert took, well, note. It's aged well, as the following image will attest.
|Leeds Castle, Kent, England image by Adusha (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
History of Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle was first built as a stone structure after the Norman Conquest in 1119. It transferred to the British Crown in 1278. In 1552 a succession of wealthy families took ownership until the castle was donated in 1974 to the Leeds Castle Foundation, a charitable trust set up to maintain it as a 'living castle,' which it remains today.
Leeds Castle and its idyllic 500-acre setting are open to the public. Leeds is located in the heart of the Kent countryside in a picturesque valley of the River Len. Visitors enjoy a variety of activities, from falconry to hot air balloon rides.
I'm ready to pack my bags! How about you? But wait, it gets better.
Things to Do at Leeds CastleIn addition to enjoying the castle proper, visitors to Leeds can also explore its other features:
|The Maze at Leeds Castle image by Nick Smith [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons}
|Gateway within the grotto at Leeds Castle image by Basher Eyre [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Dog Collar Museum & Gift Shop
|The dog collar museum at Leeds Castle image by Basher Eyre [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Those who enjoy historical trivia will find the Dog Collar Museum, with its large collection from five centuries of pooches, fascinating.The museum contains over 130 rare collars, with the earliest dating to late in the 15th century. That one is a Spanish iron herd mastiff's collar, meant to provide protection from bears and wolves. The collection includes a 16th-century spiked German collar made of iron and also some elaborate gilded ones from the Baroque era. There are also collars made of silver from the 19th century and some more modern ones made from tires. The museum started when, in 1977, Mrs. Gertrude Hunt donated her collection of more than 60 collars from all over Europe, dating between the 16th through the 19th century. She made this contribution to the Leeds Castle Foundation in memory of her husband, John Hunt, who had been a historian.
|Formal garden at Leeds Castle image by David Anstiss [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Box hedges bordering lovely, scented flower beds in a gorgeous English garden that offers opportunities for holding hands with your sweetheart. Leeds has three main gardens: the wood garden alongside the River Len, the Culpepper garden, a cottage garden named for the family who owned the castle in the 17th century. and the Lady Baille Mediterranean Garden Terrace.
Punting on the Moat
|Moat at Leeds Castle image by By Tobiasvonderhaar (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
A punt is a flat-bottomed wooden boat that is propelled by your guide by means of a pole that reaches to the bottom of the moat. Punting on the moat allows visitors close-up views of parts of the castle not visible any other way.
|Crane in the aviary section of Leeds Castle image by Nick Smith [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Falcon wearing a protective hood at Leeds Castle image by Karen Roe from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK (Leeds Castle 22-04-2012) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Leeds Castle, Not Just a Pretty Face
The nearly 1,000-year-old building is a treasure trove of antiques and a place redolent of history. Leeds Castle, as home to queens and kings of England for nearly three centuries, garnered its share of romantic and political intrigue.
Not dissimilarly, Shae, the heroine of DawnSinger, enters a confusing world when she journeys to Torindan, where all is not as it seems.
Enter the Giveaway!
For the chance to win one of three Kindle or PDF copies of DawnSinger, enter before midnight tonight using the secure link, below.
Enter the giveaway!
About the Author
Janalyn Voigt's unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and whimsy creates breathtaking fictional worlds for readers. Look for her upcoming western historical fiction. She also writes fantasy. Beginning with DawnSinger, Janalyn's epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, carries readers into a land only imagined in dreams.
Janalyn is represented by Wordserve Literary Agency. Her memberships include ACFW and NCWA. When she's not writing, she loves to discover worlds of adventure in the great outdoors with her family.
References and Further Reading