A Brief History of Deepdene
The name Deepdene comes from the word ‘dene’ which according to Collins Dictionary means valley (especially narrow and wooded). Deepdene has a significant place in British history, it was even mentioned in the Doomsday Book. It was also home to one of the first Italian style gardens in England which was created by then owner Charles Howard. He had inherited the estates in 1652 and along with the gardens, he also built a grand mansion. Charles became the 10th Duke of Norfolk in 1777 by which time the estate had gained some notoriety.
In the early 19th Century, Deepdene became the property of Thomas Hope, who was said to be one of the richest men in England at the time. Thomas’s son Henry enlarged the estate until it spread to Brockham, Betchworth Castle and Boxhill.
The Deepdene Trail
There are three major trails you can follow to explore Deepdene. There are:
• Deepdene Garden Discovery, 0.7 miles, 30-40 mins walks
• Temple, Terrace and Tragedy, 2.2 miles, 1hr 30mins – 2hrs
• Explore The Estate, 9 miles, 4-5hrs
Each trail has its own points of interest. For families with small children, the Deepdene Garden Discovery Trail is the best place to start. Then, for those will older children, there’s the Temple, Terrace and Tragedy trail. You do both or mix and match based suit your family.
Deepdene Garden Discovery Trail
We parked at St. Martin’s Walk which was roughly 15 minutes’ walk to the start of the trail. Then we walked up the slope and followed the path to the garden. Altogether, we were walked around and back to the start of the trail which took roughly 45-50 minutes. We passed the grotto, which was once decorate then during WWII was probably a an ammunition store. The kids and I took the stairs (there are over 100 of them) above the terrace and made our way to the lookout point for Chart Park. I relished my time walking along the tree lined paths, listening to the birds sing and my kids playing games. They come alive when we are on nature walks; in those moments, we are kindred spirits full of wonder and admiration for nature.
Hubby fetched the car, so we didn’t have to walk all the way back car park. We our way back to the base of the trail were he was waiting for us.
The main points of interest on the trail are the Embattled Tower which was built in 1825 by Thomas Hope. It is located by the entrance to a series of caves which once housed Charles Howard’s laboratory. There’s also the regal stone statue, Coady the Lion, so named because he’s an exact replica of the lions made from Coade stone, which were once situated at the front of the house during Thomas Hope’s time. Then, the grotto and terrace above.
Other Points of interest
If you took one of the longer trails you could explore more of the woodlands. Additionally, depending which trail you took, you will see the Hope Mausoleum, Betchworth Castle, Betchwork Park, Bronze Age Barrow, just to mention a few attractions.
Deepdene’s Trail is a magical walk into history. The views from the lookout, the landscape, the trees the textures are a thrill for the senses.
For more information about the trail you can trail’s website and there’s also an app which will show you the family fun options.
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