Surrey Hills Society on the lost gardens of Deepdene
PUBLISHED: 12:37 19 November 2013 | UPDATED: 12:37 19 November 2013
The chairman of the Surrey Hills Society, Chris Howard, reports on the fascinating story of the lost gardens of Deepdene and what is being done to save them...
I am just snuggling down with a cup of tea by the fire and reminiscing about the long hot days of the summer. Perhaps one of my most vivid memories, on one of the hottest days of the year, was exploring the lost gardens of Deepdene, near Dorking.
Owned by the famous Regency patron of the arts, Thomas Hope, the house and gardens used to stand in several hundred acres of countryside. Unfortunately, over time, there was a gradual break-up of the estate and now only 70 acres remain accessible, and they’re disjointed and overgrown.
However, there is now a concerted effort going on to save the estate, thanks to a remarkable partnership involving the local community, Mole Valley District Council, the Mausolea and Monuments Trust, Surrey Wildlife Trust, Kuoni Travel, Dorking Golf Club and Dorking Museum. Together, they are raising funds to restore the landscape of the Deepdene, repair a remarkable archaic Grecian mausoleum, which is the centrepiece of the estate, and enable access to the Grade II* Listed gardens, now owned by Kuoni Travel, whose headquarters lie on the foundations of the original house.
I recommend you take a look at the website, molevalley.gov.uk/hopesprings, which contains loads of interesting pictures of the site and its fascinating owner.
It never ceases to amaze me how many inspirational and important characters from history actually lived and worked in our little county. Probably the only thing I knew about the Hope family was the legend of the cursed Hope Diamond, now housed in the Smithsonian Museum in the USA. Now I have discovered that not only were the Hopes one of the richest families in the world in the late 1700’s but that Thomas Hope was one of the leaders of fashion and is most famous for his furniture designs, some of which are now housed at the V&A Museum in London.
Through the Surrey Hills Society, not only have I been able to learn all about this fascinating story but also get involved in the exciting Heritage Lottery project that will eventually peel back the undergrowth and debris to reveal glimpses of the Deepdene’s former glory.
If you would like to join the Surrey Hills Society, visit surreyhillssociety.org