Ancient Monuments

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Betchworth Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Brockham, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.2372 / 51°14'13"N

Longitude: -0.2965 / 0°17'47"W

OS Eastings: 519019.18255

OS Northings: 150044.502077

OS Grid: TQ190500

Mapcode National: GBR HGK.9WB

Mapcode Global: VHGS7.T53F

Entry Name: Betchworth Castle

Scheduled Date: 9 May 1951

Last Amended: 29 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017996

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31388

County: Surrey

Civil Parish: Brockham

Built-Up Area: Brockham

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Dorking St Martin

Church of England Diocese: Guildford


The monument includes a fortified medieval house with later alterations and
additions, and part of its landscaped garden, situated on a sandstone spur
which overlooks the western bank of the River Mole, around 1.5km to the north
east of Dorking.

The NNE-SSW aligned, roughly rectangular house, known as Betchworth Castle, is
Listed Grade II. Its north eastern end built of sandstone and brick survives
in a ruinous state to approximately 9m in height, whilst the south western end
survives only largely below ground. Projecting from either end of the eastern
side of the ruined building is an attached, now dilapidated, NNE-SSW aligned,
stone-revetted garden terrace wall dating to the 18th century.

Historical records indicate that Betchworth Castle dates to at least 1377,
when Sir John Fitzalan, Marshal of England, was granted licence to crenellate
his residence there. It is likely that the fortified house was constructed on
the site of an earlier castle, traces of which may survive beneath the later
buildings. The monument subsequently underwent several phases of alteration
and redevelopment, including a major remodelling of the house and surrounding
grounds during the mid-15th century. A 17th century pen-and-ink drawing by
John Aubrey shows that the house then survived as a large, NNE-SSW aligned,
rectangular, two and three storeyed sandstone building with embattled parapets
and tall chimney stacks. At least two projecting corner towers were also
depicted. The house and its park were bought in 1791 by William Fenwick, who
arranged for the demolition of the south western end of the building, turning
the remaining north eastern end into a smaller country residence. In 1798 the
architect Sir John Soane was commissioned by the then owner, Henry Peters, to
design alterations and new additions to the house and park, the original
drawings for which survive. The house was bought by Henry Hope in 1834, who,
because it formed only a peripheral part of his larger estate, allowed much of
the reusable masonry to be removed from the house, the remainder of which
gradually fell into picturesque ruin.

The modern railings which enclose part of the monument are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Fortified houses were residences belonging to some of the richest and most
powerful members of society. Their design reflects a combination of domestic
and military elements. In some instances, the fortifications may be cosmetic
additions to an otherwise conventional high status dwelling, giving a military
aspect while remaining practically indefensible. They are associated with
individuals or families of high status and their ostentatious architecture
often reflects a high level of expenditure. The nature of the fortification
varies, but can include moats, curtain walls, a gatehouse and other towers,
gunports and crenellated parapets.
Their buildings normally included a hall used as communal space for domestic
and administrative purposes, kitchens, service and storage areas. In later
houses the owners had separate private living apartments, these often
receiving particular architectural emphasis. In common with castles, some
fortified houses had outer courts beyond the main defences in which stables,
brew houses, granaries and barns were located.
Fortified houses were constructed in the medieval period, primarily between
the 15th and 16th centuries, although evidence from earlier periods, such as
the increase in the number of licences to crenellate in the reigns of Edward I
and Edward II, indicates that the origins of the class can be traced further
back. They are found primarily in several areas of lowland England: in upland
areas they are outnumbered by structures such as bastles and tower houses
which fulfilled many of the same functions. As a rare monument type, with
fewer than 200 identified examples, all examples exhibiting significant
surviving archaeological remains are considered of national importance.

The fortified medieval house known as Betchworth Castle survives comparatively
well, despite subsequent remodelling, and retains substantial amounts of
standing medieval and later masonry. The monument also illustrates the
adaptation of an important medieval residence to the changing needs and
fashions of later centuries.

Source: Historic England


Dorking Museum, various, Betchworth Castle Collection,
Gladstone, ID, Betchworth Castle and West Betchworth Manor, 1972, unpublished dissertation

Source: Historic England

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