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Dorton House, formerly known as Wildernesse, is a Grade II listed Georgian mansion house in Seal, Kent, near Sevenoaks; until 2013 it was used as the headquarters for the Royal London Society for the Blind and as housing for the blind and partially sighted children who attended its school.
Dorton House is over three hundred years old, although nothing remains of the original house which was built by Sir Charles Bickerstaffe in 1669. In the mid 18th century, the southern end of the present house was built and fifty years later, the house was enlarged. In 1884, the house was bought by Charles Henry Mills of Hillingdon who later became Baron Hillingdon. The house was enlarged again and an immense amount of work was carried out. Baron Hillingdon built his own gasworks as well as a laundry and an orphanage from where he employed many of his staff. He was a great philanthropist and eventually gave the allotments, recreation ground and village hall to Seal. In 1890, he founded a Golf Club, Wildernesse, which formed the beginnings of the present Wildernesse and Knole Golf Clubs.
In 1923, Wildernesse was sold to a syndicate, becoming a Country Club and Golf Course which had, as an early brochure states, “probably the most palatial nineteenth hole in England”. After use as a sector hospital during the Second World War, Wildernesse continued as a Country Club until 1954 when it was sold to the Royal London Society for the Blind and became known as Dorton House, named after the Societies previous home in a Grade 1 listed Jacobean Mansion in Dorton, Buckinghamshire.
On the Dorton campus the RLSB runs its Nursery and Dorton College as well as a support service for the families of visually impaired children. The RSLB closed Dorton House School in 2013.
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