Betchworth Castle

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Betchworth Castle
Betchworth Castle (3).jpg
Ruins of Betchworth Castle
Type Castle
Location Betchworth
Coordinates 51°14′15.04″N0°17′46.28″W / 51.2375111°N 0.2961889°W / 51.2375111; -0.2961889 Coordinates: 51°14′15.04″N0°17′46.28″W / 51.2375111°N 0.2961889°W / 51.2375111; -0.2961889
OS grid reference TQ 19029 50065
Area Surrey
  • 1705
  • 1799
Official nameBetchworth Castle
Designated9 May 1951
Reference no. 1017996
Listed Building – Grade II
Official nameRuins of Betchworth Castle
Designated28 November 1951
Reference no. 1378073
Surrey UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of Betchworth Castle in Surrey

Betchworth Castle is a mostly crumbled ruin of a fortified medieval stone house with some tall, two-storey corners strengthened in the 18th century, in the north of the semi-rural parish of Brockham. It is built on a sandstone spur overlooking the western bank of the River Mole in Surrey in England.


The ruin is a Scheduled monument and is in the lowest category of listed architecture, Grade II, 1.2 miles (1.9 km) due east of Dorking railway station in Dorking and 4 miles (6.4 km) due west of Reigate. Although close to the river and edge of the course it is surrounded by "Betchworth Park" Golf Course named after the village 1 mile (1.6 km) east.

In 1798, Henry Peters bought Betchworth Castle and spent considerable money renovating it to be a comfortable family home. Henry lived at Betchworth Castle with his wife, Charlotte Mary Morrison, and his twelve children until his death in 1827. After Henry’s death, Betchworth Castle was not inherited by his children and therefore was bought by David Barclay and later by Henry Hope, who demolished large parts of the castle and left it in ruin, as is seen today.


Medieval period

Betchworth (or Beechworth among other forms) Castle was the seat of the manor of West Betchworth and was held by Richard de Tonbridge at the time of the Domesday Survey. It started as an earthwork fortress built by Robert Fitz Gilbert in the 11th century. It was granted in 1373 to Richard FitzAlan, 3rd or 10th Earl of Arundel. His son Sir John FitzAlan, Earl Marshall of England, turned it into a stone castle in 1379. It passed by marriage to Sir Thomas Browne, Sheriff of Kent, who in 1448 rebuilt it as a fortified house. [1]

Browne landowners

Sir Thomas Brown(e) was also Treasurer of the Household to King Henry IV.

Post-Restoration of monarchy and the enlightenment

The last male Browne to own Betchworth Castle was Sir Adam Browne, 2nd Baronet, who died in 1690. [1] [2] [3] [4] Alterations were later made in 1705 using an unknown architect, and in 1799 by Sir John Soane, architect. [5] Adam Browne's daughter and sole heir, Margaret, married William Fenwicke in 1691. In 1725 Mrs. Margaret Fenwicke of Betchworth Castle left £200 equivalent to £30,002in 2019 to buy lands, to provide for apprenticing children, and for marrying [with a small dowry] maidservants "born in Betchworth and living seven years in the same employment", the surplus, if any, to go to the poor. [6] St Martin's church, Dorking has plaque to Abraham Tucker, author of A Picture of Artless Love and The Light of Nature Pursued, who lived at his estate of Betchworth Castle until his death in 1774. [1]

In the 19th century, people saw little practical use for castles, and this one was outshone by a newer, bigger house in the larger grounds so soon abandoned, in the 1830s. The castle was bought by banking dynasty co-heir Henry Thomas Hope to add to his Deepdene estate in 1834, who demolished part of it to reuse the building material elsewhere. Without a permanent tenant, the remainder gradually fell into ruin, and became treated as a folly. [1]

The historian and topographer Malden, in 1911 wrote:

"Judging by the print in Watson's 'Memoirs,' the mansion which, in the middle of the 15th century, replaced an earlier fortified house or castle, must have been extremely picturesque with its battlemented gables, clustered chimneys and oriel windows, standing among lawns and gardens descending to the Mole. The ivy is disintegrating the walls, and almost the only architectural feature is the arch of a fireplace. A remarkably fine avenue of lime trees leads to the ruin." [1]


A route of public access (by foot) to the site was created in 2005 along a signposted track across the golf course. The entire ruin is currently surrounded by sturdy railings for safety reasons as there are unstable subterranean cellars. It is part of the Deepdene trail and there is free access to the ruin. [7]


Mole Valley Council, which owned the castle, sold it in 2008 for £1 to local man Martin Higgins who has undertaken to conserve the structure and grounds, with financial support from English Heritage, Surrey Historic Buildings Trust and Mole Valley District Council, together with his own and other private funds, so that the public can be admitted. [8] [9]

Related Research Articles

Dorking Market town in Surrey, England

Dorking is a market town in Surrey in South East England, about 34 km (21 mi) south of London. It is in Mole Valley District and the council headquarters are to the east of the centre. The High Street runs roughly east-west, parallel to the Pipp Brook and along the northern face of an outcrop of Lower Greensand. The town is surrounded on three sides by the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is close to Box Hill and Leith Hill.

River Mole Tributary of the River Thames in southern England

The River Mole is a tributary of the River Thames in southern England. It rises in West Sussex near Horsham and flows northwest through Surrey for 80 km to the Thames at East Molesey, opposite Hampton Court Palace. The river gives its name to the Surrey district of Mole Valley. The Mole crosses the North Downs between Dorking and Leatherhead, where it cuts a steep-sided valley, known as the Mole Gap, through the chalk. Much of the catchment area lies on impermeable rock, meaning that the river level responds rapidly to heavy rainfall.

Box Hill, Surrey Hill in Surrey, England

Box Hill is a summit of the North Downs in Surrey, approximately 31 km (19 mi) south-west of London. The hill gets its name from the ancient box woodland found on the steepest west-facing chalk slopes overlooking the River Mole. The western part of the hill is owned and managed by the National Trust, whilst the village of Box Hill lies on higher ground to the east. The highest point is Betchworth Clump at 224 m (735 ft) above OD, although the Salomons Memorial overlooking the town of Dorking is the most popular viewpoint.

Brockham Human settlement in England

Brockham is a village and civil parish in the Mole Valley district of Surrey, England. It is approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of Dorking and 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Reigate. The village lies south of Box Hill, with the River Mole flowing west through the village. At the 2011 census, it had a population of 2,868.

Sir Thomas FitzAlan of Betchworth Castle in Surrey was a medieval English knight.

Westcott, Surrey Human settlement in England

Westcott is a semi-rural English village and former civil parish 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of the centre of Dorking on the A25 between the North Downs and Greensand Ridge, making it one of the 'Vale of Holmesdale' villages and is in Surrey in the direction of Guildford. It is served by a local bus service and is 1 mile (1.6 km) from Dorking West railway station on the North Downs Line.

Newdigate Human settlement in England

Newdigate is a village and civil parish in the Mole Valley borough of Surrey lying in a relatively flat part of the Weald to the east of the A24 road between Dorking and Horsham, 13 miles (21 km) ESE of Guildford and 25 miles (40 km) south of London. Neighbouring parishes are Charlwood, North Holmwood, South Holmwood, Leigh and Capel.

Betchworth Human settlement in England

Betchworth is a village and civil parish in the Mole Valley district of Surrey, England. The village centre is on the north bank of the River Mole and south of the A25 road, almost 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Dorking and 3 miles (4.8 km) west of Reigate. London is 19.5 miles (31.4 km) north of the village.

Deepdene House and Gardens

Deepdene was an estate and country house occupying land to the southeast of Dorking, Surrey, England. The remains of the gardens are Grade II* listed with the adjoining Chart Park on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

Browne baronets

There have been ten baronetcies created for persons with the surname Browne, six in the Baronetage of Great Britain, three in the Baronetage of Ireland and one in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia. Only one creation is extant as of 2010. Three of the creations were for members of the Browne family headed by the Viscount Montagu.

Ockley Human settlement in England

Ockley is a rural village in Surrey. It lies astride the A29, the modern road using the alignment of Stane Street (Chichester). The A29 diverges from the A24 from London about 2.5 miles northeast and takes the alignment of Stane Street a mile north of the village. It has a medieval parish church, see list of places of worship in Mole Valley.

Norbury Park

Norbury Park is a swathe of mixed wooded and agricultural land associated with its Georgian manor house near Leatherhead and Dorking, Surrey, which appears in the Domesday Book of 1086. It occupies mostly prominent land reaching into a bend in the Mole in the parish of Mickleham.

Sir Thomas Browne was a Member of Parliament and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Browne's tenure as Chancellor occurred during the Great Bullion Famine and the Great Slump in England. He was executed for treason on 20 July 1460.

Pixham Human settlement in England

Pixham is a chapelry within the parish of Dorking, Surrey on the near side of the confluence of the River Mole and the Pipp Brook to its town, Dorking, which is centred 1 km (0.6 mi) southwest. The town as a whole, uniquely in Surrey, has three railway stations; Pixham adjoins or is the location of two of the three; and is near the junction of the A24 and A25 main roads.

Sir Ambrose Browne, 1st Baronet

Sir Ambrose Browne, 1st Baronet was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons of England between 1628 and 1648. He supported the Parliamentary side in the English Civil War.

Pipp Brook River in Surrey, England

The Pipp Brook is a left-bank tributary of the River Mole, Surrey, England. It rises at two main springs north of Leith Hill on the Greensand Ridge, then descends steeply in a northward direction, before flowing eastwards along the Vale of Holmesdale. It runs to the north of Dorking High Street, before discharging into the Mole at Pixham.

Thomas Browne, of Betchworth Castle, Surrey, was an English politician.

Sir William FitzWilliam, of Windsor, Berkshire, was an Irish courtier and Member of Parliament in England. He was Chief Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to Edward VI of England; Deputy Chancellor of Ireland; Lieutenant of Windsor Castle; Keeper of Windsor Great Park and Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire.

St Josephs Church, Dorking Church in Surrey, United Kingdom

St Joseph's Church is a Roman Catholic Church in Dorking, Surrey. It was founded in 1872 with help from the Duke of Norfolk. It is situated in Falkland Grove in the town. It is the only Catholic parish church in Dorking and is served by the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 H.E. Malden, ed. (1911). "Parishes: Dorking". A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  2. History of St Michael's Church of Betchworth Archived 2013-10-23 at the Wayback Machine
  3. History of Dorking
  4. Exploring Surrey's Past
  5. Grade II listing Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1378073)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  6. H.E. Malden, ed. (1911). "Parishes: Betchworth". A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  7. Morris, Deborah. "The man who bought Betchworth Castle for £1 admits it's a doer upper and he's outlined his plans to preserve it". Get Surrey. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  8. "Pound purchase means castle is Martin's for keeps". 13 October 2008.
  9. Betchworth Castle owner hoping for restoration funding, Leatherhead Advertiser, 22 November 2012