DiCamillo Companion

Hadlow Castle (Hadlow Court Lodge)

  • Earlier Houses: Hadlow Castle replaced an earlier manor house, Hadlow Court Lodge.

    Built / Designed For: Walter May

    House & Family History: Hadlow Castle was built in the late 18th century by Walter May and remodeled between 1838 and 1840 by his son, Sir Walter Barton May, who added the landmark octagonal Gothic tower onto his father’s house. Based on the famous tower at William Beckford's Fonthill Abbey (see "Images" section), Hadlow’s tower is an eight-story, 175-foot-tall tower that is today the tallest folly in the United Kingdom (taller than Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square). After a succession of owners in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most of the house was demolished in 1951. All that remains today is the famous tower, the stables, the coach house, and the servants’ quarters. Most of these buildings have been developed into homes and are in separate ownership. In January 2011, after the tower had fallen into disrepair, Tonbridge and Malling District Council compulsorily purchased the property and sold it to the Vivat Trust for £1. Using more £3 million of public money granted by English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, Vivat restored the tower and opened it as holiday accommodation in 2012. Following the bankruptcy of the Vivat Trust in 2016, the tower was sold to Christian Tym for £425,000 in 2017. In 2018 Mr. Tym controversially listed the tower for sale in a raffle.

  • Architect: George Ledwell Taylor

    Date: 1838-40
    Designed: Tower and alterations for Sir Walter Barton May

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    Architect: J. Dugdale

    Date: Circa 1790
    Designed: House for Walter May

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  • John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. I, p. 190, 1852.

  • Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - HARDBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 2008
    Reference: pg. 335
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 9780300125085
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • Past Seat / Home of: Walter May, 1790-1823; Sir Walter Barton May, 1823-58. Robert Rodger, 1865-82. T.E. Foster MacGeagh, early 20th century; MacGeagh family here 1882-1919. Henry Thomas Pearson, early 20th century; Pearson family here 1919-46. Bernard Hailstone, until 1987. Christian Tym, 2017-19.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: No

    Awards: In 2013 the Hadlow Tower restoration won a Lloyd-Webber Angel Award.

    Historic Houses Member: No