Back in the day of 199_, when I was working patrol in Maidstone, England, the fine old castle in Leeds was in our patrol district. An internationally well know tourist destination for castle tours and the gardens, it was well appointed, well run and very financially successful. And one night their burglar alarm went off when I was on duty…….The question of a K9 patrol was raised, but none was available, so we were on our own to investigate.
The alarm had originated from the Keep part of the castle. For those not familiar with ancient European fortifications, traditional castles consisted of the outer wall, sometimes with turrets or parts which could be occupied, which surrounded a larger area where the villagers lived in rude wooden huts, and where they could withdraw safely behind the walls when threatened. The Lords and Ladies lived in the rather better constructed Keep, which would be stone, and more defensible in times of attack, and would feature battlements, drawbridges, portcullis, etc as required.
So Leeds Castle was a little different, because at some point in it’s history it had a lake placed around it, to make it more defensible. It was in all senses a traditional Keep, except that no expense had been spared to convert the living spaces into splendid living quarters and guest rooms for family and friends, and paying guests.
When we arrived we were assured by the staff the building was secure on the outside, no one was currently living or staying in the Keep, and that a particular alarm had sounded, but the building remained locked, and obviously being in the middle of a lake, the entrance is easily controlled. So lacking a K9 for a sniff around, we decided to throw caution to the wind, and go straight for the room where the alarm had sounded, to see if anything was obviously wrong. As we entered one corridor in the Keep, the door at the opposite end of the corridor slammed shut. A check of the corridors revealed nothing, so we decided if the door slamming indicated someone moving around, they must have a key, so we would need to search each room. We had two staff members with us, so we split up, they opened the rooms, we checked under beds, in bathtubs, in closets, of the most amazing rooms I have ever seen. There were solid oak four-poster beds, sumptuous drapes, gold and silver fixtures in the bathrooms, plush furniture. We were working different floors, but when we compared notes later, we saw pretty much the same stuff, just lots of gorgeous rooms.
When we reached the top floor, my partner PC _____ found an unlocked door to a janitors closet, which had an open window leading to the roof, so we met up there and had the staff let us up onto the roof to search that. We talked a bit about what we had seen, and decided that the corridor door slamming shut was probably due to the corridor being a sealed area, and when we opened one door at one end, the air pressure forced the other door at the other end shut, slamming it, and making us think that there was someone up ahead of us.
So by the time we came to the roof, and come to our conclusion about the fruitlessness of our search, it had been about two hours of looking through rooms, and we had become weary of luxury, and a bit blase about our purpose at the Castle. And here we were let loose out on the battlements, looking down below as medieval knights must have once looked out on their enemy, what could we do? We drew our expandable ASP tactical batons, racked them, and began to sword fight with them of course. For those not used to British Police equipment, the ASP is an American invention, a metal tube with three parts, which when released fit inside each other so it can be carried on the belt, but when subject to ‘racking’ or a flourish which shot the inner pieces outwards, they locked into place and made a much longer weapon. Personally I only ever used mine for smashing windows ( until we were prohibited form doing so in case glass became embedded in the point ) or play sword fighting with other officer, as we were doing now.
We after a little fun, we returned from the roof, reported nothing found in our search and continued on our patrol, another successful Knight in keeping the Queens subjects safe from harm.