Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for LEEDS

LEEDS, a village and a parish in Hollingbourn district, Kent. The village stands on a group of abrupt eminences, adjacent to an affluent of the river Medway, 5 miles E SE of Maidstone r. station; was anciently called Esledes, Ledes, and Ledian; may perhaps have taken its name from the Saxon word slade, signifying a glade or opening in woods; was long, with an adjacent great castle, a central strength of Kent, commanding an important line of communication through the county; is now a scattered but picturesque place: contains a small farm house, with windows of later English date; and has a post office under Maidstone.—The parish comprises 1, 610 acres. Real property, £3, 856. Pop., 656. Houses, 136. The chief landowners areWykehamMartin, Esq., and Sir Brook W. Bridges; and there are several smaller ones. The manor belonged to Bishop Odo; was given, by the Conqueror, to the Crevecœurs; passed, in the time of Henry III., to the Leybornes; went to the Crown in the time of Edward I., and, with the exception of occasional temporary grants, remained with it till the time of Edward VI.; was then given to Sir Anthony St. Leger; passed, in 1632, to the Colepepers; went afterwards, by marriage, to the Fairfaxes; and belongs now toW. Martin, Esq. Leeds Castle, the seat of Mr. Martin, dates from about the year 1119; includes, at present, a considerable portion of about the year 1280; includes a larger portion, believed to have been the work of William of Wykeham, about the year 1359; includes also a portion of the keep, added by Henry VIII., about the year 1535; is, however, in great degree, modern; and was partly rebuilt in 1822. It comprises two courts, together with outer buildings; stands amid a broad sheet of water, forming a moat; is crowned by towers and turrets; and has a beautiful park, finely wooded, and encircled by low green hills. It was erected, and long maintained, as a fortress; it presents features which give a good idea of the military architecture of the 14th century; and the original plan of its fortifications, on three islets in the moat or lake, can still be discerned. "On the first islet are the remains of the barbican, and adjoining the castle mill. On the second are the gate house; the outer bailey, surrounded by a wall of enciente; and, at the further end, one wing of the castle. On the third are the principal mass of the castle, and a small inner court. The walls rise straight from the water; and there is a curious original boat house under part of the castle. Each islet was connected with the other by a drawbridge only; so that each could be defended separately." Lord Badlesmere was keeper of the castle under Edward II.; and, having connected himself with the Earl of Lancester, held it out against the queen. Richard II. frequently visited it, and was imprisoned in it. Henry IV. was at it in 1400; and his second queen, under a charge of conspiring against the life of Henry V., was imprisoned in it. Archbishop Chicheley conducted in it, in 1440, part of the trial of the Duchess of Gloucester for sorcery; and George III. and his queen were entertained at it in 1779. A house, called Battle Hall, stands ¼ of a mile W of the castle; is partly of the 14th century, with alterations of the 16th; shows but slight traces of fortification; belonged, in the time of Henry VIII., to Robert Chambre; and passed afterwards into junction with the Leeds Castle property. An Augustinian priory was founded by the Crevecœurs at the same time as the castle, or about 1119, at a distance of about ¾ of a mile from it; was given, at the dissolution, to Sir Anthony St. Leger; passed to the Coverts and the Merediths; had a large and beautiful church, with a famous shrine of the Virgin; was mainly transmuted into a dwelling house, in 1598, by the Coverts; and continued to present considerable remains till 1795. Elsfield House is the seat of Mrs. R. F. W. Martin. The living is a vicarage, united with the vicarage of Broomfield, in the diocese of Canterbury. Value, £163.* Patron, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The church is partly early English, partly perpendicular; has a low Norman tower; and contains a good screen, a piscina, and some interesting monuments of the Merediths. There are an Independent chapel and a national school.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a village and a parish"   (ADL Feature Type: "populated places")
Administrative units: Leeds CP/AP       Hollingbourne PLU/RegD       Kent AncC
Place names: ESLEDES     |     LEDES     |     LEDIAN     |     LEEDS
Place: Leeds

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