Leeds (St. Nicholas)

LEEDS (St. Nicholas), a parish, in the union of Hollingbourne, hundred of Eyhorne, lathe of Aylesford, W. division of Kent, 5 miles (E. by S.) from Maidstone; containing 675 inhabitants. The parish is said to have derived its name from Ledian, councillor to Ethelbert II., who built a fortress here in 978. In 1119, a priory of Black canons, in honour of St. Mary and St. Nicholas, was founded by Robert de Crepito Corde, alias Crevecœur, or Crouchheart, Knt.; the revenue of which, at the Dissolution, was £362. 7. 7. The abbey church was equal in beauty to a cathedral; and the monastic buildings, remains of which still exist, were of correspondent size and grandeur. Leeds Castle, one of the most stately castles in the kingdom, is seated in a beautiful park, and surrounded by a moat: the buildings, which are entirely of stone, are ranged round a spacious quadrangle, and though they exhibit the architecture of different periods, produce, as a whole, a most striking effect. The structure has two ancient gateways, a grand hall, and a magnificent suite of apartments: there are also the remains of the inner vallum, of the keep, and various other detached parts, said to have been erected by the Crevecœurs, by William of Wykeham, and by Henry VIII. George III. and his royal consort were entertained here in their excursion to Coxheath Camp, in 1779. The castle has lately been very extensively repaired, and the style prevailing in the time of Henry VII. has been adhered to, being that which was most prominent in the remains of the ancient edifice. The parish comprises 1602 acres. The living is a perpetual curacy, to which that of Broomfield is united; net income, £163; patron and appropriator, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The church has a remarkably low square tower, and contains some good monuments to the Meredith family.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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