Wotton House, Surrey
View of grounds around entrance towards front courtyard
|Location||Guildford Road, Wotton|
|Owner||Principal Hayley Group|
|Official name: Wotton House|
|Designated||11 March 1987|
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.
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.
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. The old orangery (now the centre's bar), has a decorative parapet and banded piers. Many of the doors feature small paintings above them.
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, and it is the house's most famous feature. The grounds are unusually highly listed as Grade II* and have two grottoes close to the house.
The River Tillingbourne flows through the estate, which had its own mill at one time. The mill was originally used for the manufacture off gunpowder, a major source of the family's fortune. Later the mill was adapted for use as a wire-works and copper mill.
Wotton House was the family seat of the Evelyn Family. 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.
The descendants 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.
In 2003, having been fully refurbished following a period of relative neglect, Wotton House was re-opened as a hotel, wedding venue, training and conference centre. The property is currently owned and run by the Principal Hayley Group.
- "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)
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