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Step into the 1930s exhibition set to open at Leeds Castle this April


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Step into the 1930s and celebrate the glamorous parties of yesteryear at Leeds Castle.

The beautiful castle, hidden just outside of Maidstone, is making a change after more than 30 years and revealing a brand new thematic and immersive experience, themed around the 1930s.

Step into the 1930s opens this April at Leeds Castle and celebrates the glamorous parties held there. Picture: Leeds Castle
Step into the 1930s opens this April at Leeds Castle and celebrates the glamorous parties held there. Picture: Leeds Castle

Visitors can meet the guests and staff of Anglo-American heiress Lady Olive Baillie, who transformed the castle into a magnificent country house in the 1920s, as they prepare for a weekend of music, dancing, cocktails and gossip.

Hollywood stars, society’s finest and leading politicians are all reported to have partied inside the castle’s walls, and now guests will be able to join them in this live experience.

You can also get a flavour of Lady Baillie’s personal taste as you are introduced to her collaborators and French designers, Armand-Albert Rateau to Stéphane Boudin, who helped renovate the castle when the heiress took over in 1926.

There will be a display of original 1930s interiors and designs to browse, as well as stories of Lady Baillie’s quest to complete her personal collection of objects from famous auction houses.

Lady Baillie, pictured with her dog in the 1960s, acquired Leeds Castle in the 1920s and hosted magnificent parties. Picture: The Leeds Castle Foundation
Lady Baillie, pictured with her dog in the 1960s, acquired Leeds Castle in the 1920s and hosted magnificent parties. Picture: The Leeds Castle Foundation

The fun and frolics of these decadent parties continue as actors take on the role of Lady Baillie’s house staff, many of whom were behind organising these extravagant celebrations and have plenty of behind-the-scenes gossip to share with visitors.

In 1925, the Wykeham Martin family were forced to sell the castle, which they had acquired 100 years earlier, to Lady Baillie, who had been searching for a countryside retreat.

She decided to recreate the exterior of a medieval castle and commissioned Art Deco interior designer Armand-Albert Rateau to restore the building’s upper floors.

During the 1930s, Leeds Castle was known as one of England’s great country houses. It became a hive of activities and a social hub for leading statesmen, European royalty and film stars. Work continued on the grounds to create an even more lavish property, including the construction of tennis courts, a squash court, swimming pool and a park containing unusual animals such as llamas and zebras.

The beautiful grounds of Leeds Castle are open for the new exhibition this spring. Picture: David Fenwick
The beautiful grounds of Leeds Castle are open for the new exhibition this spring. Picture: David Fenwick

Party with the elite and discover all of their secrets at this most outrageous affair.

Step into the 1930s is open daily at Leeds Castle from Wednesday, April 13. Entry is free with your admission ticket. Book online here.

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