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.
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.
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.
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.
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.