The Deepdene (including Chart Park)


Heritage Category:
Park and Garden
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
Includes the grounds of Deepdene House, the Terrace, the Dorking Golf Club and the field in the angle between Chart Lane South and Punchbowl Lane.
Statutory Address:
Dorking, Surrey


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Statutory Address:
Dorking, Surrey

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Includes the grounds of Deepdene House, the Terrace, the Dorking Golf Club and the field in the angle between Chart Lane South and Punchbowl Lane.
Mole Valley (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Pleasure grounds first laid out by Charles Howard in the early 1650s, further developed and enlarged in the late C18, and in the early C19 by Thomas Hope. Chart Park initially added to the estate in 1671, separated in 1718 but reunited after 1814.

Reasons for Designation

The Deepdene is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Historic interest: a designed landscape with its origins in the late C17, developed in the early C19 under the ownership of the Regency novelist, garden writer, collector and man of taste Thomas Hope; later associated with Benjamin Disraeli, who wrote part of his celebrated novel 'Coningsby' while a guest of the Hope family; * Design interest: despite the loss of the main house and parts of the wider estate to C20 development, the Deepdene's dense planting and dramatic topography still give a strong sense of its original form; * Architectural interest: Chart Park, in the southern part of the registered area, contains the Grade II* listed Hope mausoleum.


In the early 1650s, the Hon Charles Howard (1630-1713), fourth son of Henry Frederick Howard, Earl of Arundel, acquired the Deepdene estate. A keen plantsman with a strong interest in science, he laid out gardens on levelled platforms along the bottom of the amphitheatre formed by the dene, which he furnished with a wide range of plants. The garden is described both by John Evelyn in 1655 and 1670 (de Beer 1955), and John Aubrey who visited about 1673 and sketched a plan of the garden (Aubrey 1718; Plan, Bodleian Library). In 1671 Howard acquired a parcel of land to the south of the Deepdene, and there built a house and planted vines on the south-facing slope below the terrace. This land, known originally as Bridehills and later as the Vineyard, was the origin of Chart Park. Howard had intended to build a tunnel through the ridge and thus join together the two parts of his property, but this collapsed during construction leaving only a cave. The Vineyard was sold in 1718 to Brigadier-General John Langston; in 1746 it was acquired by the East India merchant Henry Talbot, who enlarged the estate and transformed the house into a fashionable Gothick villa.

The original building on the Deepdene site, a mid C17 farmhouse, was demolished in 1747 and in 1769 Charles Howard (1720-86), later tenth Duke of Norfolk, built a new house on the knoll to the north. Sir William Burrell purchased Deepdene from the eleventh Duke, also Charles Howard (1746-1815) in 1790, when the latter made Arundel Castle in West Sussex his principal seat. Burrell's son sold it on in 1806 to Thomas Hope (1769-1831). Hope was born in Amsterdam into a family of wealthy merchants of Scottish extraction, and travelled around Europe studying archaeological remains and building up a collection of works of art. He was also the author of an essay 'On the Art of Gardening' (1808), a novel, 'Anastasius' (1819), and influential books on interior design. Under his ownership the estate was enlarged and various improvements made to the landscape - the latter recorded in a series of watercolour views by William Bartlett and Penry Williams, made under the direction of John Britton (Minet Library), and in a volume of descriptions and sketches made in 1825-6 (Neale 1826). The enlargements included the re-absorption of Chart Park, acquired as a gift to Hope by his brother Henry Philip in 1813. Hope demolished the house at Chart Park in 1814, and symbolically joined the two estates by raising a temple, dedicated 'to the best of brothers', on the terrace above.

Hope died in 1831 and was buried in the family mausoleum he had built within Chart Park. His son, Henry Thomas Hope (d 1862) remodelled the house between 1835 and 1840 and further extended the estate by purchasing Betchworth Castle to the east. Hope, a Tory MP, entertained Benjamin Disraeli at the Deepdene and it was here that Disraeli wrote part of his novel 'Coningsby'; it was subsequently dedicated to his host. H T Hope died in 1862 and the garden he left is recorded on the OS map of 1870. His widow remained at Deepdene but after her death in 1884 the house was not occupied regularly until it was let to Lily, Duchess of Marlborough, in 1893. She made few changes to the garden, but new varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas continued to be planted. The main part of Chart Park became a golf course in 1897. The Duchess died in 1909, and between 1911 and 1943 the estate and house had various occupants: in 1920 the house and surrounding grounds were sold to a hotel operator. In 1921 Deepdene Wood, east of the dene, was sold for residential development, and by 1938 the Terrace itself was threatened with a similar fate.

The hotel closed in 1936, and during the Second World War the house and its remaining grounds were acquired by the Southern Railway Co. The Terrace was conveyed to the Dorking and Leith Hill District Preservation Society, led by Ralph Vaughan Williams and others, who had raised the purchase price by public appeal. In 1943 the Deepdene Terrace was presented to the people of Dorking, the deeds going to the local authority. Hope's commemorative temple was demolished in 1955 due to constant vandalism, and in the same year the remaining parts of the estate were sold off. The house was vacated in 1966, and was demolished three years later. An office block, completed in 1971, was built on the site, with a second block to the south replacing the stables. In 1990 the two office blocks and the surrounding grounds were purchased by Kuoni Travel. The Terrace is now (2012) managed by Mole Valley District Council for the free use and enjoyment of the public; most of Chart Park remains a golf course, with the remainder (the southern tip of the estate) given over to farmland.


LOCATION, SETTING, LANDFORM, BOUNDARIES, AREA The 40ha site of the Deepdene lies c 0.6km south-east of the centre of Dorking, on an elevated site which offers extensive views to the north of Box Hill and Denbies vineyard, and to the south over the Weald towards the South Downs. From Deepdene House, which occupies the former mansion site, lawns slope northwards down to the A24. The road truncates the north-west corner of the estate, beyond which lies the area of Cotmandene which was taken into the grounds in the 1790s but is outside the area here registered. The public road, Chart Lane, which originally ran only 30m from the C18 house, was diverted further to the west c 1810; the road is still bounded by the early C19 estate wall. To the east of the site is low-density residential development in what was formerly part of the Deepdene pleasure grounds. Cutting into the hillside to the south-east of the house site is a steep-sided dene, a dry valley running north-west/south-east at right angles to the Greensand ridge which marks the southern boundary of the pre-1814 estate.

Beyond this lies Chart Park. Below the tree-lined terrace that runs along the top of the ridge, the land falls away to the south in a series of hollows, bounded to the west by a belt of trees along the roadside, and to the east by the wooded rise known as Chart Wood; the latter now forms the grounds to a series of large private houses and is not part of the registered area, although a tall Scots pine growing here provides an important eye-catcher. The land flattens out to the south, beyond the stream and the east-west trackway known as New Road. To the west, outside the registered area, is Glory Wood, once part of the estate but now cut off by the A24. The southern tip of the estate, a triangle of land between Chart Lane South and Punchbowl Lane, is now an arable field.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES The main access to the site is from the north off the A24, Deepdene Avenue, c 500m south of its junction with the A25 to the east of Dorking. In the 1930s a new bypass was proposed for Dorking; opened in 1934, this followed the line of the old carriage drive from Deepdene Station before curving westwards to cut a swathe through the grounds, passing within 100m of the north-west front of the house, then a hotel. Two lodges remain, both outside the boundary of the site here registered. Middle Lodge is situated c 100m north of the former house site, at the junction of Deepdene Drive with Deepdene Avenue and was built for Henry Hope in the mid C19. White Lodge (formerly Ladygate Lodge, listed at Grade II) is situated c 550m north-east of the former house site, at the corner of Punchbowl Lane and Ladygate Road. Designed by William Atkinson, it was built for Thomas Hope in the early C19.

Access to Chart Park was via two drives: one, from the west, branched off the Dorking road near the present clubhouse, while the other (presumably the main carriage drive) approached in a long curve from the east, giving views across the garden front of the house before sweeping round to the entrance front behind. The New Road was cut across the estate in the 1840s, supplementing a network of earlier tracks.

PRINCIPAL BUILDINGS The mansion known as Deepdene was constructed for Charles Howard between 1769 and 1775 to a design by William Gowen (Harris 1996). The house was substantially altered by William Atkinson (c 1773-1839) for Thomas Hope in the early C19 and was possibly the earliest example in England of a villa house in Italianate style. In c 1843 it was enlarged and largely rebuilt, still in the Italianate style, for Hope's son. The architect was probably W H Ashpitel (1776-1852) (Lees-Milne 1982). The house was demolished in 1969, and its site is now occupied by Deepdene House, a modern office building designed by E C Percy and completed in 1971.

The former stables lay c 100m to the north-east of the house and were also demolished in 1969. Built c 1818, these replaced an earlier stable block of the 1770s.

The main house on the Chart Park estate stood immediately below and to the south-east of the Terrace, with the stables further south near the present golf course car park. Originally built in 1671, the house was enlarged and remodelled as a Gothick villa in the second half of the C18 under the ownership of Henry Talbot. His architect may have been Sanderson Miller (1716-80) or Henry Keene (1726-76); later modifications were carried out by Ashpitel. Both house and stable block were demolished by Thomas Hope c 1814.

GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS When Charles Howard acquired the estate in 1652 he immediately set about creating gardens on the site. These were commented on by Evelyn in 1655 (de Beer 1955). By the time Aubrey visited in c 1673 the landscaping was well advanced. Howard's garden included terraces for growing fruit on the sides of the dene as well as a series of platforms and ramps in the base and a sunken walk shown on Aubrey's plan. Howard established a ride at mid height around the dene and this remained constant through later periods. By the late C19 the hillsides were traversed by a network of paths and rides. In the late C19/early C20 the base of the dene was lawned and ornamented with statues and parterres while the slopes were planted with a variety of trees and shrubs including a notable collection of rhododendrons and azaleas (Country Life 1899; Gardeners' Chronicle 1900).

On the north-west and west of Deepdene House, lawns sweep down to Deepdene Avenue. The hillside to the south of the office block is covered with trees and rhododendrons and the earlier woodland walks are now (2012) impenetrable. The dene consists of a narrow, steep-sided amphitheatre over 200m long which rises steeply to the Greensand ridge at its southern end. It is now used as a car park at its northern end adjacent to the office block. A brick-built icehouse set into the hillside to the north-east has lost its elegant portico. At the southern end of the car park, steps lead up to a raised flat area of open grass c 35m long; access beyond this is now (2012) impeded by dense undergrowth. Field survey in 1996 identified platforms and ramps from Charles Howard's C17 garden and later features, as well as paths and possible parterres (Cazenove 1996). The sides of the dene are covered by dense rhododendrons and trees but the horseshoe-shaped path which runs around the dene at mid height can still be traced. This is shown on Aubrey's plan of 1673, as well as details of planting within the garden in the C17. On the west side of the dene are the remains of a tower with an outer facing of flint which dates from Thomas Hope's ownership in the early C19. Nearby are C17 caves which were modified during the Second World War. Similar caves survive on the opposite side of the dene. The base of the dene has anti-tank obstacles (dragon's teeth), also from the Second World War. At the southern end of the dene are the remains of a grotto, probably on the site of the ill-fated tunnel through the hillside. The grotto is recorded in an C18 painting by Samuel Hieronymous Grimm (reproduced in Cazenove 1996), but has since been altered. Above it, steps lead up to the Terrace; the steps have been restored, but the view north is impeded by tree growth within the once open dene.

PARK The Terrace runs from west to east along the top of the ridge, at right angles to the dene and some 400m south-east of the former house site. It now forms part of the Greensand Way footpath through Surrey and Kent. During the 1990s an avenue of beech trees was planted to replace an earlier one, the last remaining trees having been felled by the storm of 1987. Keane (1849) records the avenue as being 160 yards (c 147m) long. At the top of the steps leading up from the dene is the site of Thomas Hope's temple, demolished in 1955. To the south and east there are long views across the Weald towards the South Downs.

Beyond the Terrace is Chart Park, the majority of which is now used as a golf course. As Aubrey's plan (1673) records, the falling ground immediately below the ridge was the site of Howard's original vineyard. Chart Park house stood here, at the head of a broad hollow which is now the main fairway. Further south, the New Road follows a small stream running east-south-east towards the site of the vanished Chart Farm, which lay beyond the small round pool within a grove of oak trees. The track runs east to Punchbowl Lane while the stream flows into a large triangular pond, now wholly obscured by scrub, with a clump of mature oaks alongside. Back at the western end of New Road, a smaller track climbs the southern spur of the ridge, in whose slope are the remains of an ice-house. Above, in an excavated hollow looking south-west towards distant Leith Hill, is the Hope Mausoleum (Grade II*): an austere Neoclassical structure set deep into the hillside with retaining walls forming a processional dromos. Around it are conifers (larch and Scots pine), and a veteran pollard oak stands on the wooded slope to the west. Still further south is the low-lying area known as Wet Grove, now (2012) arable land; from here there are important views looking north towards the Terrace.

KITCHEN GARDEN The site of the Deepdene kitchen gardens lies 300m north-west of the house site, in the area now known as Deepdene Gardens (outside the boundary of the registered site). Originally some 2.5ha in extent, remnants of the external garden walls still stand adjacent to properties in Moores Road and internal garden walls still exist between dwellings. Estate cottages are also identifiable.

The kitchen gardens associated with Chart Park lay about 350m south-east of the house, on the eastern boundary of the estate near the present riding stables. The latter, outside the designated area, occupy the site of the earlier estate kennels. There is a pair of former estate cottages here, and another cottage stands on the western boundary opposite Chart Close; these are likewise excluded from the designated area.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Parks and Gardens


Books and journals
Ackermann, R, Ackermann's Repository of Arts, Volume 1, (1823), pp 312-13, plates 31 & 32
Aubrey, , Natural History and Antiquities of Surrey, (1718-1719), pp 162-5, 211
Camden, W, Britannia, (1772), p 185
De Beer, ES , The Diary of John Evelyn, (1955)
Gendall, W W , Views of Country Seats II, (1830), p 23-7
Harris, J, The Artist and the Country House, from the C15 to the present day (exhibition catalogue), (1996), p 74
Harris, J, The Artist and the Country House: a History of Country House and Garden view painting in Britain 1540-1870, (1979), p 326
Keane, W, The Beauties of Surrey, (1849)
Lees-Milne, J, Country House, (1982)
Loudon, J, Encyclopaedia of Gardening, (1822), p 1228
Mercer, D, Jackson, A, The Deepdene, Dorking, (1996)
Mercer, D, E, , Chart Park Dorking A vanished Surrey Mansion, (1993)
Neale, J, An Account of Deepdene in Surrey, (1826)
Watkins, D, Thomas Hope 1769-1831 and the Neo-Classical Idea, (1968), pp 158-92, 250-4
'Gardeners' Chronicle and Supplement' in , (20 January 1900), p 42
'Country Life' in Country Life, 5, (20 May 1899), pp 624-9
Britton, J, Illustrations of the Deepdene, Seat of T Hoper Esq 1825-6 (Minet Library, Lambeth Archives),
Canter, James. The Deepdene, Surrey: Seen in a Prospect over Dorking 1773 or 1783 (MCC, Lords) [reproduced in Harris 1996],
Restoration and Management Plan: Deepdene, Dorking, Surrey (3 Vols), Cazenove Architects Co-operative, 1996,
Title: Plan of the Deepdene Source Date: 1825 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Sketch Plan of the Deepdene Source Date: 1673 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England for its special historic interest.

End of official listing

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