Leeds Castle has gone to the dogs -- and visitors are lapping it up(1). The fairytale castle set in the heart of the countryside ranks as one of the country's Top 10 Heritage sites with 400,000 visitors a year.
But many tourists, attracted by Leeds' moated(2) splendour in a picture postcard setting, are surprised to stumble across(3) one of its most surreal attractions -- the world's biggest dog collar museum.
"They are works of art in their own right," said the castle's Heritage Manager Nic Fulcher, waxing lyrical over the collection of 160 dog collars through the ages.
"Dogs have always played a fundamental(4) part in the life of man as a working animal and as a household pet. They have also been a status symbol which is what pure breeds are today," he said.
The collection, which spans five centuries, was originally put together by the Irish mediaeval(5) scholar John Hunt and his wife Gertrude, who presented the collection to Leeds Castle in his memory.
Her choice could not have been more appropriate.
Leeds, one of the prime tourist attractions in Kent that is dubbed "The Garden of England", has been home to dogs for centuries.
It has boasted hounds for hunting, mastiffs(6) to guard the gates and spaniels(7) and lapdogs(8) to grace the spacious apartments that were once part of the dowry of the Queens of England.
The museum is also a tribute to the castle's last private owner, millionaire heiress(9) Olive, Lady Baillie, whose love of dogs inspired Getrude Hunt to make the gift. The castle is now run as a charitable trust.
城堡最后一任主人为百万财产继承人Olive, Lady Baillie，由于她十分喜欢狗狗，Getrude Hunt便收集项圈作为礼物送给了她。现在城堡已经成为公益信托场所。
The most blood-curdling(10) collars on display may look fearsome with their iron collars bristling with spikes but they were designed to protect the dog at a time when wolves, bears and wild boars roamed(11) the forests of Europe.
Then there are engraved silver collars and German and Austrian baroque(12) collars decorated with metalwork and velvet(13).
Fulcher is constantly surprised by the feedback he gets.
"I get e-mails from as far afield as Australia and the United States. I get more inquiries about dog collars every week than I do about the museum.”
"People clearing their houses find dog collars and want to identify them. We generally can give estimates on when they date from."
1. lap up：舔、欣然接受
3. stumble across：偶然发现