Ewell Castle c1900

Ewell Castle - c.1823
Ewell Castle - c.1823
Image courtesy of Surrey Libraries and is held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre Collection


The following description was found in Surrey: Historical Biographical and Pictorial, edited by John Grant published by The London and Provincial Publishing Co Ltd., London (Publication date not known but probably between 1900 and 1910, but published only for subscribers at £6.6s per copy).



Ewell Castle
Captain Clarence Wiener.

The fact that the best Japanese garden in Britain is to be found within twelve miles of the centre of London, surrounding Captain Clarence Wiener's Surrey seat at Ewell Castle, discounts in some measure Kipling's famous line:-
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
For the garden in question is back grounded by a finely timbered estate, showing rural Surrey at its loveliest, and especially rich in both the ordinary stately beech as well as the glowing copper-hued variety, and many a spreading chestnut and evergreen oak.

Five years have not yet elapsed since Captain Wiener acquired the property. But in that short space of time, he has contrived not only to renovate and redecorate the mansion, which has fallen into neglect, but to transform its gardens into an Eastern Fairy-land. He has cheerfully expended a substantial fortune in making his dream a reality, and, in order to secure expert assistance, obtained from the Japanese Government, for a period of nine or ten months, the services of their chief native gardener, employed in laying out the grounds of the White City.

The north-east side of the mansion enjoys a particularly pleasing view of the ingeniously constructed lakes, now teeming with rainbow trout, golden orfe and higoi (golden carp of the Japanese variety), and the haunt of innumerable wild and Japanese duck. The sloping lawns and beds are filled with all sorts and kinds of Japanese flowers, shrubs, plants and trees; which appear to take very kindly to their present conditions of life, whilst several umbrella shaped bamboo shelters, with heather clad tops further diversify the scene.

The water, which varied from three to eighteen feet in depth, is all obtained from the same source that supplies the famous Ewell Springs; a well-equipped pump house with its own powerful engine and other appliances, provides both house and gardens with a continual supply. The skilfully arranged islands are connected with each other and the mainland by the quaint, picturesque bridges that play so important a part in Japanese landscape gardening. A fine Swimming Lake, with its picturesque swimming pavilion and oriental boat cave at one end, wherein a canoe and punt find resting place, has also been provided, and on one of the islands, with steps leading down to the water, is a many windowed Japanese Tea House, which proves, unexpectedly, to contain old and interesting maps of Nonsuch Park and its environs, dated 1610 and old prints of Nonsuch Palace.

A land of streams! Some like a downward smoke,
Slow-dropping veils of thinnest lawn, did go;
And some thro' wavering lights and shadows broke,
Rolling a slumberous sheet of foam below.
The Waterfall
The Waterfall

The words inevitably suggest themselves as the dream-laden "Garden of the Floating Island" gives place to the silver music of the Waterfall, with its shining cascades ever hastening down broken rocks to mingle with a lower stream. A haunting sayonara, its melody steals through the flower-strewn rockeries, and stirs the foliage of their eight custodian yews, the latter clipped into the semblance of Japanese storks. Beyond is a terraced walk with Rose Temples at either end, which assume their dainty festal garb in early Spring. Here a Japanese sun-dial emphasizes the character of its environment; and a perfectly true bowling green and equally enjoyable tennis courts exist in harmonious juxta-position with their orientally planned approches.

An enthusiastic horticulturist and frequent prizewinner at Shows, Captain Wiener has reason to be proud of his conservatories and vineries, with this he has been most successful as a prize winner; and at the Castle, in addition to the more ordinary denizens, the hothouses contain Chinese Primulas as well as many of the choicest Japanese Blooms and dwarf trees; all flourishing in great luxuriance.

The Garden of the Floating Island
The Garden of the Floating Island

Within the grounds is a little plaisance, hard by the Diana's Dyke, with its Silent Pool, its borders clearly defined by the remains of bastions, indicating the former Banqueting Hall of Nonsuch Palace, which, although this portion of the estate is in Cuddington Parish, appears to have been erected at some little distance from the main building, in order that it might serve the dual purpose of outpost and dining apartment. So much may be gathered from the minute survey made in 1650, where, specific mention is accorded:-
One structure of timber building of a quadrangular form, pleasantly situated upon the highest part of the said Nonsuch Parke, commonly called the Banquetting House, being encompassed round with a brick wall, the four corners whereof represent four half moons or fortified angles; this building being three stories high. .......
NE view overlooking Japanese Garden
NE view overlooking Japanese Garden

Henry VIII. did not live to fully complete the magnificent mansion significantly begun by him in the year the Destruction of the Monasteries became an accomplished fact, and the balance of the work was carried out by Henry, Earl of Arundel "for the love and honour he bare his olde maister." Later it became a favourite residence of Queen Elizabeth. It was to Nonsuch Palace that her favourite, the headstrong Earl of Essex hastened on his sudden return from Ireland in 1599, and here he was a few days later placed under arrest. The sequel is well known. The Earl never regained the royal favour, and was executed in 1601. Whether the Queen's subsequent desertion of his country residence was due to the ostensible pretext of fright caused by the reflection of the rays of the setting sun on the buildings, giving it the appearance of being well alight, or to rid herself of poignant memories, it is impossible to say; but Elizabeth seldom knew fear.

The Palace was visited by James I., and his son Charles I., was frequently there. It passed unscathed through the period of the Civil War, and during the Great Fire of London is said to have afforded the Merry Monarch safe housing for his Exchequer. Finally that King disposed of it to Barbara, the beautiful Countess of Castlemaine and Duchess of Cleveland, who caused it to be demolished. In view of the above facts, it appears more than probable that local tradition respecting a subterranean passage beneath the ruins, leading to Cheam, two miles distant, and then to London, is correct.

The Castle estate consists of about 50 acres; much of it was in a very rough condition at the time of Captain Wiener's purchase, and since transformed into the Japanese Garden, as well as a full size polo field, well-ordered lawns, rose gardens and plantations presents a singularly pleasing appearance. In ancient days, it was the site of the Roman town of Noviomagus and many coins belonging to that period have been found during the recent extensive alterations.

Japanese Tea House, Boat Cave & Bridge
Japanese Tea House, Boat Cave & Bridge

Ewell Castle of today was built by its then owner, Thomas Calverley, in the beginning of the nineteenth century, on the site of an older house. The present mansion is castellated, with octagonal turrets at the angles and embattled parapets, and contains many fine apartments, all of which are lighted by electricity generated on the premises.

High mullioned windows and a finely groined heraldic ceiling adorn the spacious Entrance Hall, thirty-eight feet long and forty-eight high, (which is reached through a covered way with a vaulted roof), giving access to the Drawing Room in Louis XV style, with panelled walls and the Elizabethan Morning Room, as well as the Dining Room, a fine apartment, exquisitely decorated in Adam's style, and Smoking Room with its two large steel vaults. Connected with the two first apartments is a large Conservatory, one of the three at Ewell Castle, which extends the whole length of the South Wing, and, steam heated, its flower filled precincts for an irresistible attraction to the occupants of either of these rooms.

A magnificent Stone Staircase leads to the Elizabethan Library and Museum, fitted with Spanish Mahogany Bookshelves on the first floor as well as a fine Billiard Room in the Jacobean style, terminating in an Indoor Conservatory with fountain and skylight studio.

The floors of all the Reception Rooms are parquetted, as well as those of two of the Bedrooms; which latter have bath and dressing rooms arranged en suite.

The Library and Museum
The Library and Museum

Born in Philadelphia in 1880, Captain Clarence Wiener is the son of Lewis Wiener and his wife Eugeine K. Ketterlinus. Harvard University afforded him his education, and in early manhood he served with The United States Army in the Spanish-American War on the staff of General Frederick Dent Grant, as aide-de-camp and afterwards with the British Army during the late South African War as Second-in-Command of Driscoll's Scouts; he subsequently was given an independent command of three hundred and forty Colonials. He was eight times wounded in this Campaign. He is at the present time connected with press life in London as the head of the Wiener Agency, Ltd., 64, Strand; the "X-L" Co., Waldorf House, etc. etc.

In addition to landscape gardening, Captain Wiener is interested in most forms of sport, particularly polo and golf, and devotes considerable time and attention to dog breeding, with what success, the many and valuable Pekineses, to be seen about Ewell Castle, abundantly testify.

Politically he is strongly in sympathy with the Conservative Party.

The village of Ewell, which lies eleven miles south of Westminster, and two miles to the north-east of Epsom, derives its name from its situation at the head of the Hogsmill River, which joins the Thames at Kingston. It was formerly called "Etwell", i.e. at the well, and on 17th century trade tokens appears under the guise of Yewill, or Yewell. Its importance as a market town is denoted by the following quaint entry in the parish registers:-
Matthew Mountegew, of Cobham and Agatha Turner of Leatherhead, their agreement of marriage was three market-dayes published in the market of Ewell, and they were married by Justis Marsh of Darkin, the 3rd of July, 1654.
Richard Corbet, D.D. Bishop of Oxford and of Norwich, was a native of Ewell, where he was born in 1582, "a high wit", according to the testimony of old Fuller, and "of a courteous carriage."

The manorial rights, as well as those of Cheam and Cuddington are now held by the Rev. Edward Northey, of Woodcote House, with whose family they have been for a considerable period. In Domesday times, Ewell was the property of the King, and continued with the Crown until Henry II. bestowed all his lands in Ewell on the Prior and Canons of Merton, who were in possession until the Dissolution, when Henry VIII. annexed Ewell to the Honour of Hampton Court. From Queen Elizabeth, Henry Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, the father of Joan, Lady Lumley, whose monument is in the Lumley Chapel at Cheam, acquired the property, which subsequently passed to his nephew, Henry Lloyd, son of the learned Antiquary, Humphrey Lloyd. From his descendant, Dr. Richard Lumley Lloyd, who died without issue in 1730, Ewell passed to Lord John Russell, subsequently Duke of Bedford, who, in his turn, disposed of the estate to Mr. Edward Northey of Epsom.

Ewell Castle - date not known
Ewell Castle - date not known
Image courtesy of Surrey Libraries and is held in the
Epsom & Ewell Local And Family History Centre Collection


With grateful thanks to Shelia Walker for transcribing the above text.

Lady Berkeley
Lady Berkeley
Rooths House
Rooth's House
Singeing Beard
Singeing Beard
Chamiers of Epsom
Chamiers Epsom
Woodcote Park
Woodcote Park
Rev. Boucher
Rev. Boucher
Rev. Parkhurst
Rev. Parkhurst