Situated on the south-eastern edge of the town, the Deepdene was the greatest of Dorking’s estates.
Charles Howard established his house at ‘Dibden’ and laid out its ornamental gardens in the mid-seventeenth century. His family had owned most of the Manor of Dorking for centuries. His grandson, also Charles, built a Palladian mansion on the site in the 1760s and continued to spend his summers at the Deepdene even after becoming 10th Duke of Norfolk in 1777. The 11th Duke chose to reside at other of his estates, however.
In 1808 Thomas Hope, one of the richest men in England, bought the Deepdene. He enlarged the house with orangeries, conservatories, a library and galleries, filling it with antiques, sculptures and works of art. The estate was further extended by the acquisition of the Chart Park and Betchworth Castle estates, which were incorporated into the Deepdene.
During the ownership of Hope’s son, Henry, the grounds stretched twelve miles from Box Hill to Brockham. Further extension saw the mansion become the splendid Renaissance-style palazzo where Disraeli wrote part of Coningsby.
Towards the end of the century the Deepdene passed to the Duke of Newcastle who had married into the Hope family. He let it to Lily, dowager Duchess of Marlborough and her nephew, Winston Churchill, often visited her there.
The grounds of the Deepdene have been developed by Mole Valley District Council and tours are run regularly by Dorking Museum.