Hope Springs Eternal: the Deepdene Trail project has repaired key architectural and landscape features and relinked the fragmented parcels of land of the historic Deepdene Estate in Dorking with the new Deepdene Trail.
The project, led by Mole Valley District Council and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, is working with a range of partners including The Mausolea & Monuments Trust, Dorking Museum, Kuoni, Stonegate Homes, Dorking Golf Club, Surrey Wildlife Trust, owner of Betchworth Castle Martin Higgins and dedicated volunteers, the Friends of Deepdene.
The project opens up a landscape that was thought lost after the Deepdene House was destroyed and the Estate was broken up in the 20th Century. On completion, visitors will be able to step back in time in the Deepdene Gardens to find out about the Estate's grand owners, especially Regency designer Thomas Hope. They could venture South to Chart Park and uncover the tragic tale that led to the Hope Mausoleum, or take the long way round and trail through woodland to hidden Bronze Age Barrows and dramatic castle ruins.
There are plenty of paths to explore, perfect for a short walk or a grand adventure.
The project will run for 2 years until September 2017 and during that time engage the local community through a number of activities, training opportunities, mini-projects (e.g. Oral History) and education activities as well as deliver a Virtual Tour and App for exploring the site.
In March 2015, the project was awarded £1,038,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to carry out the plans to repair the Estate, create the Trail and engage the local community. This followed a first round development grant of £123,700 awarded in March 2013. Generous grants were also awarded from the Wolfson Foundation, Pilgrim Trust, Monument Trust and the Leche Trust.
Restored and revived, this publicly-owned open space is on the doorstep of Dorking's 17,000 residents, and able to welcome visitors from all over the world.
Thomas Hope's Mausoleum has been restored, historic paths have been reopened and the Deepdene Gardens at the heart of the Estate have been revived. These features are landmarks on the walks around the parkland serving as a physical reminder of Dorking's famous historic resident and linking townspeople to their local environment, actively encouraging them to explore on foot, promoting healthier lifestyles.
A discreet number of new signs and interpretation boards enrich the visitor experience in the park where historic pathways have been reopened and routes are designed to lead from one viewpoint or landscape feature to another.
The project also involves new digital creations. Along with the development of this website which will be populated with downloadable maps, visitor information, historic photographs and research there is also an exciting new App developed to guide people around the site, downloadable from the App Store or via Google Play.
A historical Virtual Tour has also being created. This digital environment allows users to explore a full recreation of the 1825 landscape and its buildings and features. Available to view at Dorking Museum and with tasters to download from this website from October, it will be a fantastic new immersive resource ready for the launch of the Trail.
Over the next 12 months of the project we will be working with the local community to provide opportunities for volunteering, work on an oral history project with Dorking Museum, develop education activities, art competitions, craft workshops, geocaching and more. Keep an eye on our 'Events' page for further details.