Leeds Castle
Home Up Master Index DNA Search Sending Info About

Leeds Castle
Leeds, Kent, England

Culpepper Connections

Leeds Castle surrounded by lush greeneryDuring the reign of Edward II (14th century), Sir Thomas Culpeper3 of Brenchley and Bayhall sided with the Earl of Lancaster in a rebellion, and as a result, Sir Thomas was hanged, drawn and quartered at Winchelsea. His son, Thomas4, is believed to have been a porter or janitor of Leeds Castle.

Another son, Walter4, suffered for his refusal to admit Queen Isabel to the Castle. Walter "sticked not to tell him" (the Queen's marshal) "that neither the Queen nor any other should be lodged there without the commandement of his Lorde the owner." On the Queen coming to the gate in person "the Captaine (Culpeper) most malapertly repulsed her, insomuch that shee complained grievously to the King," who besieged the place and eventually took it. "Then tooke he Captaine Colepeper and hoong him up." (He didn't survive the experience.)

In 1632 Leeds Castle was purchased, from Lady Elizabeth Thornhill, by Sir Thomas Culpeper12 (the elder) of Hollingbourne. Thomas was the grandson of William Culpeper10, a direct ancestor of the modern-day Culpeppers.

Thomas gave the Castle to his eldest son Sir Cheney Culpeper13 who remained in possession until his death in 1663, but the restoration work that he undertook ruined him and he died deeply in debt.

His cousin, John, First Lord Culpeper13, had been a loyal servant of Charles I, holding the offices of both the Chancellor of Exchequer and Master of the Rolls and was also instrumental in conveying the Prince of Wales (later Charles II ) into exile in France. In 1649 he was rewarded for his loyalty by the gift of a large area of land in America comprising all the land between the Potomac and the Rappahancock rivers, more than 5 million acres of Virginia. The rental payable to the Crown for this land was £6-13s-4d per year.

Thomas, Second Lord Culpeper14 succeeded his father in the title and, using the dowry of his wealthy wife Margaret, purchased Leeds Castle from the creditors of Sir Cheney’s estate. During his ownership, but during his absence, the castle was used as a prison for some 600 captured Dutch and French sailors and extensively damaged.

In 1667 Lord Culpeper returned to Leeds but departed in 1680, when he was Appointed Governor of Virginia. His daughter, the heiress Catherine15w, married Thomas, Fifth Lord Fairfax in 1690 and eventually, on the death of Lady Culpeper in 1710, Leeds Castle passed to the Fairfax family which had held the Proprietary since 1690.

The American estate, however, was by no means secure, and over the next 50 years there was continual unrest as the settlers and the colonial Government challenged the Fairfax ownership. The Sixth Lord Fairfax finally achieved confirmation of the family’s sole rights in 1745, and then sailed for Virginia, the only Peer of the Realm ever to emigrate to America. He gave Leeds Castle to his brother Robert Fairfax.

Fairfax first settled at Belvoir on the banks of the Potomac, where he became the friend and patron of the young George Washington and indeed gave him his first job, to survey the new town of Alexandria. He later moved nearer to the frontier in order to better supervise the development of his estates and assigned to himself a property of 150,000 acres which he called "The Manor of Leeds". When he died at the age of 89, General Washington echoed the sentiments of the local population calling him "the good old Lord."

Culpeper Ownership Summary of Leeds Castle

Sir Thomas Culpeper
Sir Cheney Culpeper
Thomas 2nd Lord Culpeper
Margaret Lady Culpeper
Catherine Lady Fairfax
(daughter of Thomas 2nd Lord Culpeper)

Leeds Castle, Kent, Enland, Oct 1999
Photo by Warren Culpepper, Oct 1999

Warren Culpepper at Leeds Castle, Oct 1999
Warren Culpepper on Castle grounds, Oct 1999
Photo by Lee Culpepper

Leeds Castle

Location: On east side of the B2163, 1 mile S of the M20. (13 miles NE of Goudhurst.)

National Grid Coordinates: TQ 837 533

Also See


All Saints Church, Hollingbourne


Leeds Castle Web Site


Leeds Castle Article


Leeds, Kent

Last Revised: 02 Jan 2015


 Home Up Master Index DNA Search Sending Info About

Culpepper Connections! The Culpepper Family History Site