Hopelessly in Love

It was at “Delmonico’s” restaurant in New York in 1892 that the dashing aristocrat, Lord Francis Hope, owner of the Deepdene estate, met and fell hopelessly in love with a star of the American stage, May Yohé.

May and Lord Francis
Lord Francis and May as a young couple. From the John Culme Footlights Collection.

 

Money and Marriage

A pretty singer and actress, May Yohé’s arrival in London only deepened Lord Francis’ infatuation. Already spending the wealth of a vast fortune, that included the fabulous Hope Diamond, in an extravagant, irresponsible way, Lord Francis unwisely began financing ventures to advance May’s career. Inevitably, bankruptcy loomed for the owner of the Deepdene estate despite his being heir to a dukedom.

“He’s Hope, and it’s a cinch he has faith, seeing he married Yohe and she hasn’t a dollar in the world; so I guess it’s a case of Faith, Hope and Charity”
George Bernard Shaw, quoted in R. Kurin, 1950, Madcap May

Before long the press was speculating that the couple might marry, prompting his Lordship’s family to absolute horror at the prospect – with their reputedly offering him £300,000 if he would break off the relationship. Nevertheless, Lord Francis proposed, May accepted, and in 1894 they were married. He was to spend a part of their honeymoon, however, attending the bankruptcy court.

Musical May

May epitomised the naughty nineties
R. Kurin, 1950, Madcap May

May Yohe
May Yohe as Little Christopher Columbus, by Alfred Ellis, 1893. Copyright National Portrait Gallery, London

Still at the height of her career May Yohé, now Lady Francis Hope continued to act and sing in sensationally popular musicals both in Europe and the USA. The Hope family wanted nothing to do with her. May was deliberately snubbed by society ladies when attending events but this was said to have changed dramatically when the playboy Edward, Prince of Wales, took an interest in her – as he did with numerous female performers.

 

 

A ‘Second Honeymoon’

By 1899 there were newspaper reports of a failing marriage and separation. Despite still living well beyond their means the couple embarked on a world tour. A ‘second honeymoon’ it was said but it was perhaps equally a way to escape his creditors. The state of their finances was so poor that May, on engaging to perform in New York the next year, had to do so with the embarrassing stipulation that Lord Francis appear in the theatre lobby, to be seen by theatre-goers as they arrived and again during the interval!  The marriage, her career and his finances were unravelling at an alarming rate.

The most handsome man in the Army

captain-putnam-bradlee-strong
Captain Putnam Bradlee Strong. Copyright Brown Brothers.

On the return voyage to Southampton they encountered fellow passenger US Army Captain Putnam Bradlee Strong; described as “the most handsome man in the Army”. Before very long “New York’s finest lover” was wooing May. Lord Francis seemed oblivious but, in truth, he had appeared to be showing very little interest in May perhaps even encouraging the outcome.

 

By 1901 the marriage was over, an infatuated Captain Strong resigned his army commission to be with May. She finally, very publically, deserted Lord Francis, who sought divorce in 1902 to be rid of his “giddy and unfaithful wife”. No sooner than the divorce was finalised, May married Putnam Strong but it was to be yet another doomed relationship. Her stage career staggered on with performances trading on her being “the former Lady Francis Hope”. She had a role in the 1921 silent film The Hope Diamond Mystery, “A story by May Yohé”, that probably magnified the rumours of the diamond curse to their current level of fame.hope-diamond-mystery-poster

The final fall

May remarried several times and attempted various unsuccessful money-making ventures until ending her days on hard times, having to work as an office cleaner and a clerk. When she died in 1938 her ashes were scattered in the Atlantic Ocean.  Had things turned out differently, she might have become the Duchess of Newcastle.

Lord Francis remarried happily to Olive Muriel Thompson in 1904 and inherited the title, Duke of Newcastle in 1928 but by that time had already destroyed much of the family wealth and estates through enforced sales to meet his debts. The once magnificent Deepdene had never been the real residence of unlucky Lord Francis but had been rented out, its wonderful collections of sculpture and art sold off and the wider estate broken up and sold to pay off his debts. Even the Hope Diamond was sold. The Duke was to finally return to Deepdene, however, when he died in 1941 and was interred in the Hope Mausoleum.

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The Hope Mausoleum on the Deepdene Trail.

 

Researched by a Dorking Museum volunteer

Find out more
Watch some episodes of May Yohé’s Mystery of the Hope Diamond!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQalu12S9Cg

Key Source
Kurin, R. 1950 Madcap May: Mistress of Myth, Men and Hope London: Smithsonian Books
'Every reasonable effort has been made to trace copyright of the images used but the Deepdene Trail project will  welcome any information relating to the copyright ownership  of any unattributed material shown.'

Re-discovering Deepdene’s historic paths

From 12th of December 2016 we began work to resurface two more historic paths on the Deepdene Trail to help visitors find their way and get around. The paths had been opened by hand earlier this year by the hard work of the Friends of Deepdene.

Early Deepdene paths

From its earliest times there has been a path network throughout Deepdene that has encouraged visitors to explore.

In 1653 when Charles Howard became owner of the estate, Deepdene mainly consisted of the deep valley at the heart of the grounds that are the Gardens of Deepdene today. He created there, over the next 20 years, one of the first truly Italianate Gardens in England. This ambition was greatly supported by the steep sides of the valley into which he cut paths creating Italian-style terraces in the manner of a theatre.

Sir Charles has shaped his valley in the form of a theatre with more than six narrow walks on the sides, like rows of seats, one above the other. . .’

John Aubrey describing his visit to Deepdene in 1673

The Hope family’s path network

In 1807 Thomas Hope became Deepdene’s owner followed by his son Henry Hope in 1832 and it is from their time that the main paths of the Deepdene Trail were formed.

‘Here I was much gratified with a pleasing picture of landscape-gardening; the quiet of echoing dells; and the refreshing coolness of caves and subterranean passages, all which combined to render this spot a kind of Fairy Region. Flower- gardens, laid out in parterres, with much taste, here mingle the aspect of trim neatness with rude nature, in walks winding though woods and plantations and containing several ruined grottoes and hermitages, well adapted, by their solitary situations, to study and reverie.’

Timbs, 1822, describing Thomas Hope’s Deepdene in A Picturesque Promenade Round Dorking

The first path we are resurfacing formed a ‘serpentine’ walk through the woods that linked the Gardens to the Terrace. This drawing from 1825 shows the first version of this path in Thomas Hope’s time.

Deepdene_map_1825
Early path highlighted on map from Britton, J. 1826 Descriptive account of the Deepdene, the Seat of Thomas Hope Esq. © Reproduced by kind permission of the Lambeth Archives department

When Henry took over he completed this route. He also added a new path linking the parterre – the formal garden area that has always been a feature of the gardens at Deepdene – to the Middle Walk.

deepdene_paths_1870

These paths remained throughout the Deepdene, playing host to visitors such as Winston Churchill who came to see his aunt, the Duchess of Marlborough, when she rented the estate at the turn of the 20th century. Later they entertained guests of the Deepdene Hotel in the 1920’s and 1930’s. As the estate was broken up and the House repurposed as headquarters for the Southern Railway (1939-1966), however, many started to become less cared for and overgrown.

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Friends of Deepdene

This year these two particular paths were uncovered by the Friends of Deepdene. The volunteers worked with us to locate and map out these historic routes then by hand they cut through the overgrowth revealing the routes we use today. Thanks to their hard work we can now relay the surface onto these paths allowing visitors to get around the Trail with more ease and follow these historic routes like visitors did in the past.

Join us!

Would you like to join the Friends on site and get involved in work like this? They currently work two days every week (Wednesday-Thursday). If you are interested in conserving this fantastic historic landscape, looking for a bit of regular exercise or are a dab hand with a pair of secateurs and willing to lend a hand, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact:

thedeepdenetrail@molevalley.gov.uk

‘A perfect way to spend Sunday morning’- walks, talks and Trail activities

Since the Grand Opening we have been delighted to see many visitors exploring and enjoying The Trail activities such as seasonal trails, walks and talks. We have also been pleased at the useful feedback received so far that will help us improve the Trail as the project continues for its second year – a year full of more fun events and activities!

Halloween Hunt

Throughout October half-term this year we ran a Halloween hunt. Nine spooky skeletons crept into the gardens of the Deepdene Trail. Families hunted them down and used the letters they held to discover the name of one of Deepdene’s treasures. Many visitors then headed back to Dorking Halls Café to collect Halloween treats.

“Fun Halloween trail for kids, lots of informative boards about the history of the site, and space for kids to explore and enjoy the woodland and wonderful views from the Terrace. Full credit to all the local volunteers who have been involved in creating, promoting and maintaining the Trail!”

Visitor to the Trail

Dorking Museum guided walks

Dorking Museum have taken on delivery of fantastic guided walks of The Trail since the opening in September. Visitors can book on an advertised public tour or book a private group tour. The dedicated volunteer walk leaders guide visitors from The Trail entrance through the Gardens, up the Terrace and for an exclusive look inside the Hope Mausoleum illustrating the walk with stories from Deepdene’s past.

Commonly fully booked, the next tour will visit the Deepdene on January 8th 2017 – book your place now!

museum-guided-walks
Dorking Museum volunteer leading visitors into the Hope Mausoleum.

 

Talks

We have been spreading the word about The Trail through talks to groups and societies such as the Friends of Holmwood Common, public talks hosted generously by Dorking Library, and inspiring others to give talks based on Deepdene’s history.

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Talk at Dorking Library

 

Walk for Health Christmas Special

27th November 2016 we embarked on a seasonal celebration of healthy walks on the Deepdene Trail with Mole Valley’s Walk for Health Coordinator Estelle Holmes. Families joined us for a frosty Sunday morning walk of the Trail with a few facts thrown in by Activity Coordinator Gail and a chance for the little ones to try out the Trail’s new Winter Woodland Bingo. It was a great success ending with delightful drinks, mince pies and craft activities for the kids at Dorking Golf Club.

“A perfect way to spend Sunday morning and even the weather cooperated!  Gail was so knowledgeable it added another dimension to a trail we had already explored a little and she balanced giving information in an interesting way with the need to keep on the move. The refreshments at the Golf Club were a perfect finish to the morning. . . with lovely activities for the younger ones to enjoy while mums and dads had a few minutes of peace.”

Visitor to the Trail

Why not try our Winter Woodland Bingo for yourself? Visit our website to download the bingo sheet and have a go!

Friends of Deepdene: July-Sept update

September 10th The Deepdene Trail opened successfully to visitors and the Friends of Deepdene played a key role in getting it all ready, especially between July and September this year.

The Gardens

There was a huge volunteer effort in the Gardens of the Trail before the opening as one of the areas previously closed and hidden from the public. The activities included: opening and clearing paths ready for visitors, mowing the garden slope or ‘dene’, checking and re-cutting key views around the garden slopes and preparing and planting beds around the newly restored parterre area (the lower garden with gravelled paths and the lion statue).

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The group also cleaned up the historic flint steps that link the gardens to the Terrace to assess their stability. As visitors saw on the opening day they were sadly in bad repair and could not be opened. Now trained up in flint working the volunteers have taken on these steps as one of their key conservation activities since the opening.

They also prepared the Trail entrance for visitors clearing the entrance paths off the A24 of felled trees, rhododendron and overgrown grass.

Chart Park

Chart Park was cared for with plenty of strimming, raking and mowing the wonderful meadowland areas. The Friends also seeded the new ground around the new overflow car park, finalised the last linking path from the Terrace to the golf course with rustic steps and helped with the hay cut.

img_20160720_121815344

They supported the work at the Mausoleum, clearing debris, planting and giving the walls a good scrub up before the opening day.

Deepdene Terrace

The Terrace was cared for with strimming in the overgrown areas along the avenue and around the slopes and leaf blowing and clearing of the flint steps from the Terrace down.

Outside groups lend a hand

On the 20 July Democratic Services, the Legal Team and the Policy & Performance team from Mole Valley District Council braved the hot weather and spent the day volunteering at Chart Park as part of the Deepdene restoration project. They helped with moving rubble from the Mausoleum, and building paths and steps from the Terrace.

Above and beyond

In recognition of the amazing work the Friends of Deepdene have put into the Trail the group was successfully nominated for Mole Valley District Council’s Above and Beyond Customer Services Award by Project Manager Alex Bagnall.

‘The volunteers have worked tirelessly over the last five years, amounting to in excess of 15,000 voluntary hours, and the project could not have happened without them. . .The skills and knowledge of the group are immense and continue to expand as new volunteers join and further training is undertaken. . .I will never be able to thank them enough for their outstanding contribution to this project and truly believe that they have gone above and beyond.’

Alex Bagnall

Response from volunteers:

‘What a wonderful and completely unexpected surprise we had when the Friends of Deepdene team members were each presented with an ‘Above and Beyond’ Award from MVDC for the work we had carried out on the Deepdene Trail over the past 4 or 5 years.

As volunteers we do the work, not just because we enjoy it, but also because we are able to contribute to a more pleasant environment for the community of, and visitors to, Dorking and the surrounding towns and villages.

We really are lucky to be working outdoors in our Surrey countryside, yes sometimes we get wet, we get cold, we get tired, but we also get terrific satisfaction when completing each small project that adds to the Deepdene Trail story.’

David Stagg

Join us!

Would you like to join the Friends on site and get involved in work like this? They currently work two days every week (Wednesday-Thursday). If you are interested in conserving this fantastic historic landscape, looking for a bit of regular exercise or are a dab hand with a pair of secateurs and willing to lend a hand, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact:

thedeepdenetrail@molevalley.gov.uk

The Deepdene Trail is now open!

Saturday 10th September we opened The Deepdene Trail to the public for the very first time on our Grand Opening Day!

Due to open at 10am, eager visitors, dressed for the predicted rain were at the entrance looking for maps and guidance by 9.15am. Our amazing volunteers who had given up their Saturday to help out were on hand to welcome them as we put finishing touches on our decorations.

entranceVisitors’ enthusiasm throughout the day kept smiles on all our faces as we ignored the rain and laid on music, face painting, guided tours and story telling.

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Costumed actors brightened up the Gardens and local artists recreated the views from the Terrace.grotto-view

The young winners of our Children’s Art competition ‘My Dream Garden’ were on hand to accept their prizes from our partners, the Dorking District Fine Arts Society, as their works of art went on display at Dorking Halls.

Over 200 visitors slogged through the storm to visit the freshly restored Hope Mausoleum specially open for the event and admire the Thomas Hope inspired settee on display inside.

inside-mausoleumOver 500 people arrived on the Trail during the day to discover and explore.  They were greeted by our fabulous, enthusiastic volunteers – if you are one of them a huge thanks to you!

The day was a huge success, feedback has been enormously positive, The Trail is getting good media coverage and many more activities are planned for the coming year.

The Partner’s Private View on Friday was attended by over 120 people who listened to Lord Fellowes of West Stafford describe Thomas Hope’s accomplishments and declared the Trail open by revealing our new Coade stone lion in the centre of the Deepdene estate Gardens.

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If you haven’t visited The Trail yet then do see www.deepdenetrail.co.uk , download the new App or pop by the Council Offices to pick up a map.

Friends of Deepdene March-June update

In the last few months the Friends of Deepdene have stepped up their activities on the Trail and we welcomed fresh support for the team.

FoD barbecue
The team at the annual barbecue celebrating their hard work.

Trail blazing

One of the fantastic achievements of the Friends of huge benefit to the Trail has been the creation of several new connecting paths. These paths were marked out to follow historic routes located on old maps that in several areas had become impassable. With chainsaws, bowsaws and loppers at the ready the Friends have cleared these paths providing great new connections around the estate.

Outside groups lend a hand

The Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) Partnerships team and a MVDC apprentice joined the Friends on site and helped install some essential new steps on one of our new paths. It also gave them some idea of the work that has gone into the Trail by the volunteers.

The Gatwick Greenspace Group also joined us for a few days supporting the conservation of the landscape and helping clear invasive species like, Himalayan Balsam and bracken.

Most recently students from local Starhurst School have been lending a hand on site and learning new skills with our volunteers.

Staff at Deepdene Terraceb
Council team supports the Friends of Deepdene on site.

 

Deepdene Gardens

The new entrance way area to the Trail at Deepdene Gardens has been made much more visible from the road for walkers and there has been a lot of work clearing debris on the new paths.

gardens
Cutting new paths in Deepdene Gardens

The Friends have further widened the paths in the Gardens along the Middle walk and are cutting new spurs that will take visitors off the middle walk into the centre of the Gardens. They worked to carefully clean the flight of flint steps above the Grotto which they will be helping repair before the opening in September 2016.

The volunteers also helped support friendly archaeologist, Justin Russell of Archaeology South-East, who voluntarily performed the standing building survey for the WWII structures in the Garden.

Betchworth Park

At Betchworth Park the Friends have worked on de-frithing the lime trees (trimming the unwanted sprouting growth around the base), leaf-blowing and clearing invasive species. This already popular public path will provide a historic link through the wider estate from Deepdene Gardens to Betchworth Castle and Brockham.

Betchworth Castle

The Friends spent a couple of sessions out at Betchworth Castle helping Martin Higgins lay a new iron stone path next to lovely new railings commissioned by Martin for the Deepdene Trail. This key path has now made the unstable north side of the Castle accessible to future walkers on the Deepdene Trail.

Betchwroth railing
The new railing at Betchworth Castle.

Chart Park

At Chart Park the Friends have been keeping on top of the rapidly growing meadow and grassland, strimming, mowing and pulling out bracken. The area has been lovely throughout spring and early summer.

Helping the community

The Friends of Deepdene also spent a couple of days at Ranmore bike jumps clearing the area for users.ranmore blog

Join us!

Would you like to join the Friends on site and get involved in work like this? They currently work two days every week (Wednesday-Thursday). If you are interested in conserving this fantastic historic landscape, looking for a bit of regular exercise or are a dab hand with a pair of secateurs and willing to lend a hand, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact:

thedeepdenetrail@molevalley.gov.uk

 

Deepdene Garden renovations begin – the Grotto

The exciting renovations at Deepdene Gardens began last month.

Universal Stone expert stonemasons have made great steps already in works on the key architectural features of the Deepdene Gardens – especially the Grotto.

The Grotto – background

The Grotto at the top of the Gardens began life as a failed tunnel into the hill ordered by then owner of the Deepdene, Charles Howard in the 17th century. The intention was to tunnel through the hill to the far side to enjoy the views; however the sandy soil led to a collapse. Howard kept the entranceway and turned it instead into a Grotto with flint lined archways.

In Thomas Hope’s time this simple Grotto was extravagantly restyled. The flint was covered with brick and render interiors with small alcoves for statues, a decorative balustrade was erected above the vault and a statue of the Egyptian God Seti took pride of place.

In WWII the decorative area was repurposed probably as an ammunition store. The statues had been sold years before and the military installed new interior walls and frontage to contain their supplies.

grotto 1
Interior of Grotto, Jan 2016. Photography with thanks to Alex Lyons.
grotto 2
Exterior of Grotto, Jan 2016. Photography with thanks to Alex Lyons

The Grotto – repairs

Universal Stone began work to return the Grotto to how it looked in Thomas Hope’s time by first recovering the broken remains of the stone balustrade.

grotto 3
Recovered stone balustrade

This remaining stone will be repaired and integrated into a replacement that will once again line the top of the vaulted Grotto. The vault itself was completely uncovered for assessment giving us a glimpse at the original structure.

grotto 4
The exposed vault of the Grotto

Leaf litter was dug away from the exterior allowing us to see the extent of original walls and identify how far the balustrade extended to.

The WWII brick work has been recorded and carefully removed from the inside and from the entrance recreating the classic view of the Grotto as it was in Hope’s garden.

grotto 5
The exposed interior of Hope’s Grotto.

The remaining stone is being sensitively repaired and we will keep as much of the 19th century fabric as possible.

The main structural work will be complete by the end of June and the garden renovations will be ready for visitors in September – we can’t wait!

Children’s ‘My dream garden’ art competition launched

Design your own Dream Garden

This week we launched our children’s art competition ‘My Dream Garden’ in partnership with Junior Youth Voice. We have challenged the young people of Mole Valley to help us celebrate the opening of The Deepdene Trail in Dorking on 10th September by designing their own Dream Garden.

There have been gardens in Deepdene for over 300 years and each owner dreamt up their own new styles for the garden. One famous owner, Thomas Hope, added a Temple and statues of Egyptian Gods and lions. We look forward to seeing what exciting new designs our competitors come up with.

 

 

Judging, Winners & Prizes

Entries will be judged by a panel including representatives from Youth Voice, Mole Valley District council and a local artist.

There will be 3 winners chosen from each age group: 4-7yrs, 8-11yrs and 12-16yrs.

A special prize will be given to the School who sends in the most entries.

All 9 winners and a representative from the winning school will be invited to attend the Grand Opening of The Deepdene Trail on 10th September 2016 at Deepdene Gardens to receive their prizes.

Individual prizes have been sponsored by Dorking Decorative Arts Society as part of the 2016 Heritage Open Days celebration (www.heritageopendays.org.uk ). The 9 winning individual entries will also go on display at Dorking Halls from the 10th of September . They will also be featured online at www.deepdenetrail.co.uk .

How to enter

Do you know a budding artist? Then encourage them to draw/paint/create a collage or create on their computer their own Dream Garden design on an A4 or A3 sheet of paper.

Post or drop off the entry to:

My Dream Garden: The Deepdene Trail, Mole Valley District Council, Pippbrook, Reigate Road, Dorking, Rh4 1SJ Or email it to: thedeepdenetrail@molevalley.gov.uk

All entries must be received by 7th June 2016, please only enter one drawing.

Don’t forget to fill in your details: NAME, AGE, SCHOOL, ADDRESS, EMAIL, PHONE

For full T’s & C’s see our website http://www.deepdenetrail.co.uk or contact us at thedeepdenetrail@molevalley.gov.uk

This competition is run by The Deepdene Trail in partnership with Junior Youth Voice and Youth Voice. The Deepdene Trail is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.kids art1

 

Locals explore work on the new Deepdene Trail

Our second set of ‘behind the scenes’ walks for visitors revealed the recent changes to the Deepdene Trail as we prepare for it to open in September 2016. The walks were illustrated by stories from the past provided by Project Manager, Alexander Bagnall and Activity Plan Coordinator, Gail Mackintosh.

Both walks in February this year started with our visitors walking from the centre of town out across the Cotmandene to the Deepdene Gardens. Illustrated along the way with images and tales of the Deepdene’s owners’, Charles Howard and the hero of our project – Thomas Hope.

tour 23.2.16 7b

New Paths

The visitors were amongst the first to use the newly laid paths into the Gardens, currently still closed to the public without a project guide, as work vehicles continue to use the site. The location of the entrance mirrors the entrance way shown in early paintings of the Estate in the 18th century and the driveway used in the Hotel era of the House in the 1920s-30s.

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Visitors using the newly laid paths into Deepdene Gardens – not yet open to the public

Visitors were excited to hear about the new works about to start to repair the Grotto and Embattled Tower that feature prominently in the Gardens.

 

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Visitors learn about the different phases of the Grotto’s history 

 

The Terrace

Our adventurous walkers were then first to use the new trail just opened up by our amazing volunteers – the Friends of Deepdene. The Friends had incredibly only taken a few weeks to reopen ancient routes up the hill to join the existing paths to the Deepdene Terrace. The views from the top were fantastic, one way looking down the flight of flint steps into the Gardens and the other taking in the fantastic panoramas of Chart Park.

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Standing on the site of the now lost Temple on Deepdene Terrace.

The Mausoleum

 

From there an exciting scramble took us down to the Deepdene Trail’s hidden gem – the Hope Mausoleum. Visitors discovered the sad tale behind its construction in memory of Thomas Hope’s young son who died, aged only 7 and that Thomas Hope is himself laid to rest inside Mausoleum’s vaulted chamber.

The Mausoleum conservation work is almost complete with and the restored Mausoleum will soon be revealed.

Many thanks to our visitors for supporting the project and to our expert stone masons PAYE for letting us onto site whilst they worked.

We hope to arrange a special visit to the Mausoleum once it is complete. You can keep up to date by Signing up to the Deepdene Trail Newsletter and keeping an eye on our Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates.

Thomas Hope

The Deepdene Trail focuses on the Deepdene Estate’s owner in the early 19th century, Thomas Hope.

Hope recognised the potential of the Italianate style house and gardens created by earlier owner Charles Howard. Hope remodelled Deepdene’s house and lands connecting the two with striking features that remained for several generations and still resonate with what we see and appreciate today.

Early life

Thomas Hope was born in 1769 into a family of highly successful and influential bankers.   Thomas’ ancestor, Henry Hope, had emigrated from Scotland to Amsterdam and set up as a merchant in the second half of the 17th Century.  He had three sons who entered into the banking business and became very successful raising loans for the British government to fund the seven years war.

By 1762 the Hope & Company Bank had become Europe’s leading merchant bank with famous clients including the King of Sweden and Catherine the Great.  The family became the most powerful and wealthy in Holland and lived as royalty.

Thomas’s father John owned a number of large houses in Amsterdam, The Hague, and Country seats near Harlem and Utrect. John also had a prominent collection of paintings sculpture and antiquities which eventually became part of Thomas’s great collection.

NPG 4574; Thomas Hope by Sir William Beechey
Thomas Hope, by Sir William Beechey, oil on canvas, 1798, NPG 4574 Copyright National Portrait Gallery, London

Grand Tour

Like many wealthy young men of the time, Thomas embarked on a Grand Tour of the Middle East aged only 18. Thomas’ grand tour was particularly extensive lasting eight years and taking in parts of the ancient world previously largely unvisited. He spent 12 months in Constantinople and took in Egypt, Greece, Syria, Sicily, Portugal and North Africa.

This extensive travel enabled him to see early classical architecture first hand and to purchase antiquities and commission works from upcoming artists such as John Flaxman and Bertel Thorvaldsen.

His grand tour of the Middle East was commemorated in his novel Anastasius.  It took London by storm when it was anonymously published in 1819.  Lord Byron is said to have ‘wept’ that he had not written it.

London

The revolutionary fever which swept Europe in the early 1790’s threatened the Hopes’ world.   The internal struggle between the Prince of Orange and the new Patriot party further unsettled their business environment.  With the imminent arrival of the French republican army a number of the family left for England in 1794. Thomas and his brothers fled Germany to join them in 1798.

London was then the richest city in the world and attracted the talented and ambitious. Thomas became a partner in the bank but was not particularly interested in the world of commerce and devoted his time to travel.

Thomas Hope bought two residences in England, the Deepdene in Dorking and Duchess Street House in London.

Duchess Street

Duchess Street was to become the focus of Hope’s great zeal to reform the standards and taste of craftsmanship and design in Regency England – which he felt was greatly inferior to that of Paris.

Built by Robert Adam, Hope soon set about remodelling the house in a neoclassical style to house his growing collection of art, antiquities and sculpture. Hope believed passionately in Neoclassicism and its power to guide a path back to true beauty

The-Egyptian-room-drawing_household furniture and interior decoration by thomas hope
Design of the Egyptian Room in Duchess Street, London.  Hope, T. 1807 Household Furniture and interior decoration.

Through his remodelling of Duchess Street mansion, Hope was able to show the physical manifestation of his ideas by using the finest craftsmen he could find to build furniture to his own designs. The house was then open to the public by ticket bringing Hopes taste into the public consciousness. Hope also invited members of the Royal Society to visit to see how they ‘should be’ styling their houses, an attitude that did not go down well with all members!

 

‘Said to be the richest, but undoubtedly far from the most agreeable man in Europe . . .’
Lord Glenbervie, 1801

The Deepdene

Hope married Louisa Beresford in 1806 and by the next year they had bought the Deepdene. The House had been built by Charles Howard the 10th Duke of Norfolk between the years 1777 and 1786.  With the house came 100 acres of arable and pasture land and a beautiful set of Italianate Gardens behind the House.

One of the first additions to the estate was Chart Park, bought by Thomas’s much loved younger brother Henry Philip and gifted to Thomas in 1813. To commemorate this gift Hope built a temple overlooking the park and inscribed the Temple pediment with the Latin phrase ‘Fratri Optimo  H.P.H’ – ‘To the best of brothers, H.P.H’.

Hope seemed content with the simple 13 bay Georgian house at Deepdene for a number of years. It wasn’t until 1818 that the first building works are recorded – the construction of a Mausoleum. Hope’s youngest son, Charles had tragically died of fever in Rome and the mausoleum was erected to house his ashes.

Hope soon began remodelling the Deepdene: stuccoing the exterior, adding two side wings, a new entrance, hall, offices and stables.

Deepdene House 1825_A.Bagnall comp
Deepdene House, c.1825

 

‘The well-stored mind of Mr Hope (who to an extensive acquaintance with every branch of the Fine Arts, adds the happy faculty of Drawing with facility and accuracy) enables him to design numerous Architectural Improvements in the House and Outbuildings; and also to embellish the home scenery. Instead of the small red brick, common place House which was here when he first took possession of the Demesne, we now behold a spacious Mansion, of pleasing colour, diversified and varied in its features, replete with interior luxuries, and exterior beauties.’
John Britton, 1826 Descriptive account of the Deepdene, the Seat of Thomas Hope Esq. (unpublished)

Despite never achieving a peerage, Thomas’s contribution to the arts was recognised in his lifetime. He was buried in 1831 in the family mausoleum.

Legacy

Sadly Hope’s remarkable house was greatly altered by his son Henry Thomas who also had a great interest in the arts and architecture. The house shown in the many photographs records Henry Hopes remodelled Deepdene.  Henry also added to the Estate including buying Betchworth Park and Castle in 1834.  The estate at its zenith measured 12 miles in circumference.

Henry Hope died in 1862 leaving his estates to his wife. These were in turn inherited by his youngest grandson Lord Francis Hope.  Regrettably he was inept and was soon declared bankrupt and started to sell off the family jewels.  The Hope collection was sold in 1917 soon followed by the sale of the House in 1920.

The house became a hotel until the second world war when it was brought by Southern Rail – becoming its headquarters in the south east. It was eventually sold in 1966 and demolished in 1969.

The Deepdene Trail will revitalise the Deepdene Estate and restore some of the influence of Thomas Hope back to the landscape.

mausoleum 6
The Hope Mausoleum being repaired and conserved for the Deepdene Trail, Feb 2016.

 

 

By Alexander Bagnall, Project Manager of Hope Springs Eternal: The Deepdene Trail

 

Key resources
Watkin, D. 1968 Thomas Hope and the Neo-Classical Idea London: John Murray
Watkin, D. and Hewatt-Jaboor, P. 2008. Thomas Hope Regency Designer London: Yale University Press