William the Conqueror used enforced Anglo-Saxon labour for work on the construction of Leeds Castle. The original wooden castle was replaced by a fortified stone castle in 1119. An important feature of Leeds Castle is its access to the River Len. Leeds Castle occupies three islands surrounded by an artificial lake. King Henry VIII converted Leeds Castle into a Royal Palace but retained the defences due to the possible risk of invasion from Spain or France.
Between 1685|1688 Sir John Brownlow & his wife had the present Belton House built. Despite great wealth they chose to build a modest country house rather than a grand contemporary Baroque palace. Following WWI (the Machine Gun Corps were based here), the Brownlows, like many of their peers, were faced with mounting financial problems. In 1984 they gave the house away, complete with most of its contents to the National Trust.