Leeds Castle is to change its name to ‘Kent Castle’ in a move it hopes will end confusion over its location.
Leeds Castle is the historic 900-year-old attraction located in the village of Leeds near Maidstone, however staff say they regularly encounter misunderstandings with people wishing to visit, believing it to be some 240 miles away in Yorkshire.
The decision to rebrand Leeds Castle to ‘Kent Castle’ comes after a string of incidents from lost visitors phoning from Yorkshire for directions, wedding guests who have missed the big day by going to the wrong venue and holiday-makers booking overnight accommodation in Leeds (the Yorkshire kind) and discovering the next morning that a taxi to the castle would cost them more than £500.
A few years ago, one couple mistakenly travelled to Yorkshire for Leeds Castle’s annual open-air classical concert, before realising they had gone to the wrong Leeds and catching the first train to Kent, arriving just in time for the second half of the event.
The confusion over the name and location of Leeds Castle has even led to it appearing on ITV’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and more recently, becoming a Pointless question on the BBC quiz show.
Helen Bonser-Wilton, Leeds Castle chief executive, says: “It was a big decision to rebrand Leeds Castle after 900 years to ‘Kent Castle’, but after years of issues with our identity, we feel it is time for a change. We hope this move will make it easier for people to find us, sitting proudly as one of the south-east’s most visited attractions and located right in the heart of Kent”.
Please visit www.kent-castle.co.uk for more information and opening times and prices. The castle (whatever its name) is located just off Junction 8 of the M20 one hour’s drive from London. Not in Yorkshire.
So, have a look at the calendar. I confess I can’t quite make out if this is an elaborate April Fools’ hoax or the real deal. The best hoaxes are the most believable ones and this is certainly believable. The fact is that if you are unfamiliar with the castle, or live outside the county it’s very easy to be unsure about the location of Leeds Castle.
The press release arrived in my email at close to 9pm last night – too late to ring and ask: “Are you having a laugh?”
However, the web address above is real. I have visited it. If it turns out to be an April Fools’ Day special, I’ll get back to you.
Postscript: Indeed, it is a prank. It was confirmed in a press release received this morning. So, if people still want to go to Yorkshire in error (that bit is very true), well, what can I say?