Readers of The Devoted Classicist might be more familiar with the castle as the former home of Lady Olive Baillie, the iconic tastemaker of pre-World War II England. With Stephane Boudin of the legendary decorating firm Maison Jansen, the townhouse at 45 Upper Grosvenor Street and the castle in Kent were notable for introducing the melding of French and English 18th-century styles and a re-introduction of trompe l'oeil painting. The Hon. Olive Paget, 1899-1974, was the elder daughter of the Baron Queenborough (who made a fortune in the Canadian steel industry) and Pauline Payne Whitney (daughter of financier William Collins Whitney). Her third and last husband was Sir Adrian Baillie, the Baronet of Polkemmet to whom she was married 1931 to 1944. She and her second husband acquired Leeds Castle in 1926 and modernized it with the addition of electricity and 15 bathrooms in a luxurious fantasy-inspired decorating scheme by the French designer Armand-Albert Rateau. But after the great success of the decoration of the London townhouse, Stephane Boudin was recognized as an ideal collaborator and was brought in for a more serious approach to decorating the country house in 1936.
|Photo of Lady Baillie's Bedroom from JANSEN by James Archer Abbott.|
At Lady Baillie's death in 1974, the castle and its property was transfered to the Leeds Castle Foundation. It has been open to the public as a museum and a conference center since 1976, and the money from the Olympic rental would provide funds for on-going maintenance and restoration. All the color photos are from the Leeds Castle website which has more information about hours for visiting, event rentals, etc.
More information about the collaboration of Lady Baillie and Stephane Boudin can be found in the wonderful book by James Archer Abbott, JANSEN, published by Acanthus Press, 2006, available for purchase here.