Recently we were lucky enough to stay in Wotton House near Dorking in Surrey; the actual building doesn’t date back to Domesday, but it is on the site of the manor which was mentioned in it. The name is Anglo-Saxon and means the farm (tun/ton) by the wood (wudu). As you can imagine, since Domesday it had many different owners and residents, but in 1579 it came into the possession of George Evelyn, and the actual estate is still owned by the Lord of the Manor or Wotton, Mr Patrick Evelyn… nearly four and a half centuries in the hands of the same family!

George Evelyn was in gunpowder manufacturing, and made his fortune; his son Richard Evelyn, inherited the manor, and he became high sheriff of the county… one interesting little fact I came across – he had 116 servants who wore a livery of green. with a doublet and hose of satin, their hats decorated with silver braid and white feathers! Another George inherited the estate from Richard, and this George had a brother who also became very famous, maybe more famous today than the other members of his family. he was John Evelyn the diarist; he was a great botanist and an expert on trees. he sounds as if he was an early ecologist, campaigning to reforest the land which had lost much of its timber to the ship industry and charcoal burning.

The house is now a hotel and conference cetnre, but it is a beautiful place and teh gardens are open to the public.

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