Mereworth Castle

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Mereworth Castle
Mereworth Castle.jpg
Mereworth Castle in the 18th century
Mereworth Castle is located in Kent
Mereworth Castle
Location of Mereworth Castle in Kent
General information
Type Country house
Architectural style Palladian
Classification Grade I listed
Location Mereworth, Kent
Coordinates 51°15′14″N 0°23′25″E / 51.25389°N 0.39028°E / 51.25389; 0.39028
Construction started 1723
Completed 1725
Owner Mahdi Al-Tajir
Design and construction
Architect Colen Campbell
Capriccio with a view of Mereworth Castle. Francesco Zuccarelli and Antonio Visentini, 1746.

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


Mereworth by Paul Amsinck, engraved by Letitia Byrne, 1809.
Mereworth Castle, a postcard franked 1911.

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 artist Michael Lambert Tree (1921–1999[8]), a son of Ronald Tree and an heir to the Marshall Field mercantile fortune, and his wife, Lady Anne Cavendish, daughter of the 10th Duke of Devonshire. Tree inherited the house from his uncle, Peter Beatty, who died on 26 October 1949.[9]

The Wateringbury Stream passes through the grounds of the castle. It powered a fulling mill at the eastern end of the castle grounds.[10][11]

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,[12] who purchased it in 1976 for $1.2 million.[13] 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". Archived from the original on 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  8. ^ Colpus, Eve (2015). "Tree , Lady Anne Evelyn Beatrice (1927–2010)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/103305. Retrieved 21 March 2015.  (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  9. ^ "British tax may topple castle of a Field heir". Chicago Tribune. 20 June 1952. 
  10. ^ Watermills of the East Malling and Wateringbury Streams, Part 2, Chapter 1
  11. ^ Watermills (Kent and the Borders of Sussex) p134.
  12. ^ "Sunday Times Rich List 2010: Britain's richest see wealth rise by one third". The Daily Telegraph. 24 April 2010. 
  13. ^ 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. 

External links[edit]

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