Wotton House, Surrey

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For The English Baroque mansion in Buckinghamshire, see Wotton House.
Wotton House, view of grounds around entrance towards front courtyard, 2008

Wotton House is a hotel, training centre and former country house in Wotton near Dorking, Surrey, England. Originally the centre of the Wotton Estate and the seat of the Evelyn family, it was the birthplace in 1620 of diarist and landscape gardener John Evelyn, who built the first Italian Garden in England there.[1]


The house was built in the early 17th century by the Evelyn family who extended it in the later 17th century. In the 18th century it was extended eastwards by William Kent. Further extensions and alterations were made in the early 19th century by Francis Edwards. Following a fire in the 1870s the house was restored and enlarged by Henry Woodyer for William John Evelyn in 1877.[2]

Its architectural features include distinctive terracotta decorations on brickwork, octagonal turrets and stacks, winged gryphons on the porch, and plaster wall panels by Kent painted in Chinese style by Belgian Jean Derraux.[2] The old orangery (now the centre's bar[3]), has a decorative parapet and banded piers. Many of the doors feature small paintings above them.[2]


Wotton House, rear view showing terraced gardens, 2003

John Evelyn (1620–1706) and his elder brother George created the first Italian Garden in England. Work on it started in 1643, was completed by 1652,[1] and it is the house's most famous feature.[2] The grounds are unusually highly listed as Grade II* and have two grottoes close to the house.[2][4][5][6]

Notable residents[edit]

Wotton House was the family seat of the Evelyn Family and John Evelyn, a diarist, landscape designer and collector, was born in a room still in existence there. He inherited the house and estates on the death of his brother George in 1699.[2]

The descendents who inherited the house in turn included Conservative politician William John Evelyn (1822-1908), who was elected MP for Western Surrey from 1849 until 1857 and became MP for Deptford in 1885 until resigning in 1888.

Post-War Use[edit]

Between 1947 and 1981 the house was leased to Home Office and used as the Fire Service College between 1947 and 1981.[7][8]

Grade II* listed status was given to the garden in 1984, and the house and its two garden grottoes became Grade II* listed in 1987.[9]

Twenty-first century[edit]

Wotton House being used as a wedding venue

In 2003, having been fully refurbished following a period of relative neglect, Wotton House was re-opened as an hotel, wedding venue, training and conference centre.[10][9][2][3] The property is currently owned and run by the Principal Hayley Group.


  1. ^ a b "At Wotton on his brother's estate he and a relation George Evelyn introduced between 1643 and 1652 what was really the first Italian garden into England, terracing a steep hillside and fitting a little temple into the bottom of it." (Nairn, Pevsner & Cherry 1971, p. 42)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1189814)". National Heritage List for England. 
  3. ^ a b CentralR staff 2011.
  4. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1000391)". National Heritage List for England. 
  5. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1378104)". National Heritage List for England. 
  6. ^ Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1294093)". National Heritage List for England. 
  7. ^ Nairn, Pevsner & Cherry 1971, p. 542.
  8. ^ Fire Service College staff 2009.
  9. ^ a b "Wotton_Bro_use" (PDF). Principal Hayley. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  10. ^ PHG staff.


  • CentralR staff (2011), Wotton House Venue, CentralR (Central Reservations Limited), retrieved May 2012 
  • Fire Service College staff (2009), Heritage and History, Fire Service College 
  • PHG staff, Wotton House, Dorking, Principal Hayley Group Limited, retrieved September 2011 
  • Nairn, Ian; Pevsner, Nikolaus; Cherry, Bridget (1971) [1962], Cherry, Bridget, ed., Surrey, Buildings of England (2, illustrated, revised, reprint ed.), Penguin 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Coordinates: 51°12′39″N 0°23′44″W / 51.21093°N 0.39567°W / 51.21093; -0.39567