“I was surprised at how much there was to see and hadn’t really appreciated [The Deepdene Estate’s] significance nationally.”
Throughout November we ran our first series of behind the scenes walks for visitors showing them our plans for the new Deepdene Trail that explores the Deepdene Estate and will open in September 2016. The walks were illustrated by stories from the past provided by Project Manager, Alexander Bagnall.
Five walks were held: two shorter walks exploring the paths, old and new, of Deepdene Gardens and three ‘Hard Hat Tours’ that extended the walk to take in the mysteries being uncovered at the Hope Mausoleum.
The shorter walks were run with Mole Valley District Council employees and Kuoni Travel employees, the ‘Hard Hat Tours’ were open to the public. We had a fantastic response, the ‘Hard Hat Tours’ were fully booked and we have a waiting list for the next set to be announced in the New Year.
“The enthusiasm of Alex was wonderful and I was sorry his talk wasn’t longer.”
The walks all took in the panoramas from the heart of the Cotmandene that in the past would have revealed to visitors their first view of the Deepdene Estate. Visitors also discovered the remnants of the 19th century kitchen gardens of the great Deepdene Estate still surviving on the Cotmandene.
Moving into the Deepdene Gardens we took visitors on a scramble through the new entrance to the gardens revealed by the hard work of the Friends of Deepdene volunteers. Over the next 10 months this will be transformed into an accessible entrance way.
After trekking through the tree and rhododendron-lined paths the route opened out to reveal the Deepdene Gardens. Alex delighted the visitors with stories about the garden’s, and estate’s, historical owners especially Regency arbiter of taste, Thomas Hope. He also highlighted how the landscape has changed through time from its earliest creators into the era of World War Two.
For the adventurous walkers on our ‘Hard Hat tours’ we then descended down to Chart Park and 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 was not at its best as we are in the process of conserving and reconstructing the damaged architecture. The works aim to be completed by February 2016 and the Mausoleum will be a key feature of the new Deepdene Trail when it opens in 2016.
“A buried treasure. . .”
Look out for more walks next year!
Many thanks to our visitors, staff and Kuoni Travel for supporting the project and to our partners including Dorking Golf Club who also supplied our visitors with welcome refreshments.
Another set of behind the scenes tours will be announced in the New Year so keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates.
What surprised you the most about the Deepdene Estate? – “That it existed!”