Godstone: Marden Castle

Recent voluntary work involving the study of aerial photographs of the county has uncovered historical evidence of a castle just a mile and a half to the north of Godstone.

Marden Castle is shown on the first edition Ordinance Survey map of the area, surveyed in 1869. It is also mentioned in the Canterbury Pilgrimages (Snowden-Ward.H.1904) as being the once proud residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury, as well as the favoured abode of Saint James of London. The castle, now partially ruined, is on the edge of the wooded area known as Winders Hill. A well within the castle grounds is thought to be the healing well created by Saint Jamess staff and a destination on the Pilgrims Way, which runs to the East of the castle.

However, there is evidence to suggest that the building is actually a folly, a decorative building built to romanticise parks and gardens often in the form of a Gothic ruin.

The Heritage Conservation Team based at the Surrey History centre, Woking, would welcome any information known to residents of the county or indeed anyone who knows anything that could help them to unearth the life of this castle, of which sadly little is known.

22 thoughts on “Godstone: Marden Castle”

  1. jean Marshall says:

    Dont know if this is of any relevance but i believe i may of lived in this castle in 1938 aprox . my father worked on the marden estate which at the time was owned by Sir Bernard Greenwall . We rented the castle for 3 shillings a week but sadly it was bombed during the war . This may not be releavent to the above . It was only known as The Castle in Castle View . Our Address was The Castle Marden Park Godstone .

  2. Trevor Woodger says:

    As a young boy, 70 years ago, I used to play with others in the castle and on the east side of the hall there was a shield high up on the wall.

  3. sue kilby says:

    I beleive my grandfather William kilby was born at Winders Castle in 1865 on the Marden Estate as was James Kilby who ran the livery stables on Kilby’s corner in Caterham, now Waitrose and the bank.

    1. ian williams says:

      I am a descendant of James Kilby of Caterham.

      1. Anne Kilby says:

        So am I! My father Alan Robin Kilby and his brother Arthur Jack Kilby were the grandsons of James Kilby who ran the livery stables.

  4. SUSAN says:

    I have come across an old postcard, 1906 I believe. It shows Castle Hill, Godstone. A square castle with a single tower, with a tall flagpole. Castle looks in quite good condition. It is on a hill with avery pretty looking farm at the foot of the hill, the farm has some kind of oast house type building. Unfortunately the card says nothing more about the location.

    1. Kathy Matthews says:

      I would love to see a picture of this postcard. Is there any way of doing this?
      I live on Winders Hill x

  5. Annette Hughes says:

    The Bourne Society’s Local History Records No.17 (1978) has an article on pages 39 – 42 including a picture of the castle on page 41.

  6. paul winder says:

    Hi Annette’s reference is a good one, this is well documented as a shooting lodge for the Claytons family, there is a picture in Bygone Godstone @1905 – No.101 – though I’m not entirely sure it’s genuine. The ruin is easily accessible N.B. via a very steep stepped path – I have recent pictures (last 2 weeks) if you can give me an email address. No well I’m aware of, but would not otherwise have a water source except a rain water tank – a well would have to be @80-100m deep, perhaps a borehole is more likely? Footprint is 4-5m x 4-5m visually estimated.

    Location, Quarry Road Godstone, awkward turn off the A22 just north of M25 junction 6, foot path on left just after the warehouse – don’t park here during the week except with permission. Parking easy at the beginning of the old stage coach / roman road entrance 250m to the south. This is the area where the Godstone Hearthstone mines are.

    1. Adrian Winchester says:

      Hi Paul (if you see this),
      I’m very curious to find and see this mysterious place. As I occasionally do the Woldingham Countryside Walk, I’d take a detour from this, heading west from the other end of Quarry Road. When you say “just left after the warehouse” (when approaching via the A22) is the warehouse your refer to the large complex that’s now used by the Brittania Sandersteads Removals company? Maps show a path beyond this that heads north east towards Marden Park, so do you think this is the one? If so, about how far along the path should I expect to find the ruin? Was there no road access to the lodge? Any help gratefully received! I remember reading somewhere that Canadian soldiers (also mentioned below) used the lodge for target practice, hence it being a ruin. That’s appalling, if it’s true!

      1. paul winder says:

        Adrian – that sounds like the correct one. You have a steep climb for maybe 150m, then the thing is as soon as you get to the top the path turns left – and you want to go straight on at this point for approx 50m till you get to the low square ruins of the castle. Worth looking at the various bits left here e.g. broken fragments of high grade china, Oyster shells.

        I have since found out there were two, possibly three wells to the north side of the castle – I can see no trace of these but would be reluctant to probe very hard.
        There was no road to the castle but if you look down the field to the north there is a field boundary / tree line heading directly towards the Clayton Mansion.
        The rumour of a Canadian demolishition is mentioned in several places but it has been suggested that if so it may have could have been that this prominent item could well have been used as a navigation point for the Luftwaffe.

  7. Jocelyn Allen (nee Norris) says:

    My mother, Florence Charlton, was born at Marden castle in 1904. Her parents worked on the Greenwell’s estate. It wasn’t really a castle, more like a hunting lodge, with some accommodation. It had a castle like appearance and in it’s imposing position overlooking Godstone to the South Downs, was thus known. My mother’s younger sister in the 1950s, lived in one of the Winders Hill Cottages which was opposite a steep bank path to the Castle. We as children played on the ruins of the Castle and probably contributed to it’s deterioration. We also explored the mines through an entrance by the sawmills. We always referred to the area between the Castle and Woldingham Road, as Marden Park and there was a Convent School. Could it still be there ? Happy Days !

    1. Kathy matthews says:

      Hi Jocelyn,

      We have just bought one of the cottages and would love to know its history and the surrounding area! We live in no 3 and wondered who else lived there what it was before it was converted into cottages and the history of it and the area?

      1. Hev says:

        Hi Kathy, I lived in no 3 from 1971 -1979. at the time it was a tied cottage and my Father worked for a Mr jones who had a heard of dairy cattle. I have some photos somewhere. I used to play on the Hills around where The Castle was.Happy Days.

  8. ChrisMorley says:

    If this were an historic residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury that can be checked at the Archbishop’s library and archives:

    1. ChrisMorley says:

      If you check the Victoria County History entry for Godstone, Marden is described as a manor but there is no mention of any link to the Archbishops. It seems to have been a fortified manor house, owned by lay people.
      “On Castle Hill, by Leigh Place, are traces of a bank and ditch, among trees and underwood, on the east side of the hill. These possibly represent St. John’s fortified house of Walkhampstead [the former name for Godstone] …. At Lagham is a very considerable earthwork which surrounded the castle or fortified manor-house of the St. Johns. The works are oval, and measure about 700 ft. by 580 ft. The top of the bank to the south is 30 ft. above the bottom of the ditch. The ditch is on two levels, divided by cross banks. Both levels were probably wet, and are still wet in part. The lord had licence to fortify in 1261, (fn. 9) and the boldness of the contour is probably due to his work. But it is possible that he availed himself of an ancient earthwork; a fragment of Romano-British pottery has been found in the bank. The small house now inside is of the 17th century in its oldest part, but stone foundations exist in front of it, and when Manning wrote part of a gateway was standing.
      … MARDEN, forming the other half of the manor of Walkhampstead held by Richard de Lucy, had also come into the possession of the St. Johns of Lagham by the middle of the 13th century.
      Godstone entry in Victoria County History http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=43066

  9. Michael luckhurst says:

    My grandfather & father worked as grooms for sir Bernard greenwall I was born in 1933 on the estate & lived in three different tied houses on the estate until approx 1943 the estate was occupied by Canadian military and had a marked influence on my life .I still visit the area annually to tend ancestors graves and meet old school friends

  10. Paul Marshall says:

    Gethins, would be a good start in the search, alot of altered records of the Sir Richard Gethins aps Rhys Gethins

  11. Kathy Matthews says:

    Hi Paul
    I live at Winders Hill and have been trying to find these ruins! Is it the path of steps directly after Brittania Sanderstead or do I have to walk past the cottages and up towards the Woldingham School Lodge? I walked up the steep stairs after Britannia but it veers to the right and leads to farm land the only ‘ruin’ I could see was a very large white stone!!

    1. Adrian Winchester says:

      Kathy – I wondered if you found it? Anyone looking for walls that rise for more than a few inches above the ground won’t find them! I recall seeing a rectangular block of wall that was intact, and someone had done something to reduce the risk of it falling down the extremely steep hillside, as it could cause some serious damage if that happened!

  12. Paul Winder says:

    Kathy – I think you went up the correct steps BUT the path veers to the left, not the right at the top and leads to farmland. At the top as the path veers left, go straight on – its not a proper footpath so you’ll have to bash your way through (in Summer anyway), keep going until you find the ruins, they’re quite obvious and on the edge of the scarp.

  13. Wookie says:

    Can anyone help with the pool on Winders Hill which is close to the castle footprint. It seems out of place so could be man made. But at the same it is not situated close to anything. Last couple of months it has been full and looking very lush. Situated at –

    What3Words – salt.economies.life
    Or on Google Earth at 51°16’11.33″N 0° 3’23.38″W


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