Mereworth Castle

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Mereworth Castle in the 18th century
Capriccio with a view of Mereworth Castle, 1746

Mereworth Castle is a grade I listed Palladian country house in Mereworth, Kent, England.[1]


Originally the site of a fortified manor licensed in 1332, the present building is not actually a castle, but was built in the 1720s as an almost exact copy of Palladio's Villa Rotunda.[2] It was designed in 1723 by Colen Campbell who had been commissioned by John Fane, 7th Earl of Westmorland.[3] The interior features plasterwork by Giovanni Bagutti and fresco painting by Francesco Sleter. The house is situated in a landscaped park and valley with a number of surrounding pavilions and lodges which are also Grade I listed.[4][5]

The house passed through descent to Barons Oranmore and Browne whose family seat it became. It was sold in 1930 [6] and used as a prisoner of war camp during World War II.[7] In the 1950s and 1960s it was owned by Michael Lambert Tree, a son of Ronald Tree and an heir to the Marshall Field mercantile fortune, and his wife, the former Lady Anne Cavendish, a daughter of the 10th Duke of Devonshire.

The Wateringbury Stream passes through the grounds of the castle. It powered a fulling mill at the eastern end of the castle grounds.[8][9]

Mereworth Castle is owned by Mahdi Al-Tajir, the former United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United Kingdom and owner of the Highland Spring bottled water company,[10] who purchased it in 1976 for $1.2 million.[11] It is not generally accessible to the public, but does open on rare occasions for guided tours.


  1. ^ "Mereworth Castle (main block) with moat walls to north, Maidstone Road (south side), Mereworth, Tonbridge and Malling, Kent". English Heritage. Retrieved 2008-05-20.  This source attributes the plasterwork to Francesco Bagutti, but Giovanni Bagutti would appear to be more likely.
  2. ^ 5 houses have been built in Britain based on Palladio's Villa Rotunda (the others being Nuthall Temple, Nottinghamshire [demolished]; Henbury Hall, Cheshire; Chiswick House, Greater London; and Foots Cray Place, Kent [demolished])
  3. ^ "The Peerage". The Peerage. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  4. ^ "Images of England, Pavilion to the North East of Mereworth Castle, Maidstone Road (south side), MEREWORTH, Tonbridge and Malling, Kent". English Heritage. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  5. ^ "Pavilion to the North West and Stables of Mereworth Castle, Maidstone Road (south side), MEREWORTH, Tonbridge and Malling, Kent". English Heritage. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  6. ^ Lord Oranmore and Browne's obituary Telegraph
  7. ^ "Island farm". Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  8. ^ Watermills of the East Malling and Wateringbury Streams, Part 2, Chapter 1
  9. ^ Watermills (Kent and the Borders of Sussex) p134.
  10. ^ "Sunday Times Rich List 2010: Britain's richest see wealth rise by one third". The Daily Telegraph. 24 April 2010. 
  11. ^ Monday, Aug. 02, 1976 (1976-08-02). "BRITAIN: Dinner for 370,000, Please, James". TIME. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 


  • Stutchbury, Howard, The Architecture of Colin Campbell, Harvard University Press, 1967, 54-58. ISBN 0-674-04400-2
  • Harris, John, The Palladians, Trefoil Publications Ltd, 1981, 66-67. ISBN 0-86294-000-1
  • Country Life, XLVII, 808,876,912; XCV, 242; CIV,728; CXVI, 209
  • Fuller, Michael (1980). The Watermills of the East Malling and Wateringbury Streams. Maidstone: Christine Swift. 
  • Fuller & Spain (1986). Watermills (Kent and the Borders of Sussex). Maidstone: Kent Archaeological Society. p. 134. ISBN 0-906746-08-6. 

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Coordinates: 51°15′14″N 0°23′25″E / 51.2539°N 0.3902°E / 51.2539; 0.3902