Had been wanting to visit Leeds Castle for years and unfortunately on the day in question it was dull and cold. However on the upside, the number of visitors was evidently going to be low from the lack of cars in the car park. My friend and I were shocked to be charged £25 for adult entrance which did not even include a leaflet to tell us the basic facts about the place! A small map was given to ensure we didn't get lost, but I would not expect to pay that amount for entry and then be required to cough up a further £1 for a flimsy leaflet or £5 for a printed brochure. We hoped to find a cosy place for a warming coffee but were again disappointed to find that a Costa was on offer which I feel belongs in a shopping street not in a place of history and heritage. On entry into the castle we were directed to a small display area with background information and this was a useful start point but the rest of the building, although very interesting architecturally, was disappointingly bland. There was no real sense of social history and the use of some of the bedrooms for conference delegates - requiring the stripping out of any valuable items - just served to sanitise the presentation. We were glad we visited, but I feel they could take do with giving the place more of a human touch and including more information about how, for example, previous residents lived there, were supported by staff, how the staff functioned in such a place etc in order to bring it all to life. The dressing room of the last owner had a few shoes in a cupboard but it all felt so bland. There are lots of egs of National Trust properties bringing properties, that don't necessarily have a lot of exhibits, to life using creative ideas to give them a USP and with a much lower entrance fee. Notwithstanding my appreciation of the fact that there must be huge running costs at Leeds Castle, I would recommend that they step back and look at the offering with fresh eyes. The range of overpriced and on the whole tacky souvenirs in the two shops again left us disappointed. It they are trying to wow overseas visitors on a package tour with a quick snapshot of English history and the chance to buy a memento then no doubt it hits the spot, but for me it is not somewhere I would return in order to try and get value for money out of my entrance fee !
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