THE LEEDS CASTLE FOUNDATION
1974 to Present Day
Just a few months before Lady Baillie died in September 1974, she put in place plans to create a charitable foundation to which the Castle and grounds would be transferred, so that they could be preserved for future generations to visit and enjoy. Her lifelong friend Lord Geoffrey-Lloyd became the first Chairman of the Trustees of the Leeds Castle Foundation, and he set about ensuring the financial stability of the newly established charity.
An endowment of £1.4 million was invested and a further £400,000 was realised from the sale of furniture, so that improvements could be made to the Castle to attract paying corporate conferences. It was quickly realised that these alone would not support the ongoing costs of running the Estate, so in 1975 the gardens were opened to the public, and the following year the Castle was also made available to visitors.
The reputation of Leeds Castle as a leading visitor attraction and conference venue grew, and in 1978 it was chosen as the location for the Middle East peace talks that preceded the Camp David Accords of the same year.
Since then Leeds Castle has become one of England’s top tourist attractions and welcomes over 600,000 visitors a year, as well as hosting weddings, conferences and caring for the beautiful gardens and Castle interiors.