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"LEEDS, a parish in the hundred of Eyhorne, lathe of Aylesford, county Kent, 5 miles E. of Maidstone, its post town, and 7 N.W. of Headcorn. Part of the land is in hops. The village, which is small, is situated on a branch of the river Medway, and was originally called Ledian, or Ledes. It came from Bishop Odo to the Crevecoeurs, one of whom, Robert de Crepits Corde, founded a priory of Black Canons here in 1119. The abbey church is said to have been equal in magnitude and beauty to a cathedral, and the monastic buildings were of corresponding size and grandeur, but no remains now exist. The revenue of the priory at the Dissolution was £362 7s. 7d. The manor subsequently passed to the St. Legers, Colepepers, and Fairfaxes, of whom was General Fairfax. The living is a perpetual curacy with that of Broomfield annexed, in the diocese of Canterbury, value £163, in the patronage of the archbishop. The church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, is an ancient structure with a remarkably low square tower containing a peal of ten bells. The interior of the church contains a piscina, stone seats, and monuments of the Merediths, who succeeded the St. Legers in the abbey. The register dates from 1575. There is a school for both sexes. The Independents have a place of worship. Leeds Castle, one of the most stately structures in the kingdom, was the seat of the above-mentioned families. It was originally built by the Crevecoeurs, much enlarged by William of Wykeham and Henry VIII., and has recently been extensively repaired. This noble structure is entirely of stone, and in many styles of architecture, having been built at different periods. The two courts are surrounded by a moat, with three round towers, gateway, drawbridge, &c. It includes a grand hall, and a suite of state apartments containing a portrait of General Fairfax. During the reign of Henry VI. Archbishop Chichele presided here at the trial of the Duchess of Gloucester, in 1440. Richard II. and Henry IV. resided here, and George III. visited it in 1778. Joan of Navarre, second queen of Henry IV., was confined in this castle for conspiracy against the life of her stepson. It is now the seat of Charles Wykeham Martin, Esq., who is lord of the manor."

[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868 by Colin Hinson ©2010]


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