The ruins of Betchworth Castle stand on Betchworth Park Golf Course half a mile to the east of Dorking at TQ1846 5015.
Betchworth Castle was the medieval manor house of West Betchworth, just to the east of Dorking. In 1835 Henry Thomas Hope bought the manor to add to his Deepdene Estate, but having no need of another mansion, he turned the castle into a romantic ruin in a parkland landscape. Although the ruins belonged to the district authority for much of the 20th century they were unsafe and inaccessible due to lack of funds to undertake restoration work, and were on the Heritage at Risk register maintained by English Heritage.
In 2011 the new owner, Martin Higgins, undertook extensive conservation work with the benefit of volunteers and grants from English Heritage, Surrey Historic Buildings Trust, and Surrey County Council Local Committee and the site is now stable and open to the public. Further work remains to be done to improve the site’s accessibility, interpretation and educational value. There are plans to link the ruins with other parts of the Hope’s Deepdene Estate including a 17th century Italianate garden and the Hope Mausoleum. Initial clearance of all the sites has been undertaken by ‘The Friends of Deepdene’.
Following the successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the ‘The Deepdene Trail’ , restoration of this and other parts of the estate is well uderway. Maps promoting self-guided walks, educational material and trained guides from Dorking Museum will ensure the maximum benefit is derived from the wider project.
Is it haunted? Legend has it that a prisoner held captive in the fortified manor house escaped, and the proprietor, Lord Hope, gave chase. Spying a running figure in the shadows, the Lord ran him through with his sword, tragically killing his own son by mistake. The ghost prowling around is not, as one would expect, the slain son, but Lord Hope, wringing his hands in despair.
Car parking for volunteers is just opposite the garden centre on Reigate Road (A.25) at approximately RH4 1NP. From the Deepdene/Cockerel roundabout in Dorking take the A25 east towards Reigate. After leaving the built-up area on the right (south) you will see a brick and slate sign to Betchworth Park Golf Club. Turn off the A25 and park on the loop of public side road.
The meeting point for volunteers is the five bar gate close to the main road, or at the Castle. The drive to the Castle is 530m long with a gentle upwards incline.
Please respect the users of the golf course and do not trespass onto the course or along the private road Castle Gardens. The only access to and from the castle ruins is along the drive described.