Hadlow Castle

Hadlow Castle is a Grade I listed country house and tower in Hadlow, Kent, England.


Hadlow Castle replaced the manor house of Hadlow Court Lodge. It was built over a number of years from the late 1780s by Walter May in an ornate Gothic style. The architect was J B Bunning. his Son, Walter Barton May inherited the estate in 1823, and another inheritance in 1832 from his wife's family. He added a 170 feet (52 m) octagonal tower in 1838, the architect was George Ledwell Taylor. A 40 feet (12 m) octagonal lantern was added in 1840 and another smaller tower was added in 1852. This was dismantled in 1905. Walter Barton May died in 1858 and the estate was sold. Subsequent owners were Robert Rodger, JP, High Sheriff of Kent, in 1865. He died in 1882 and the castle was bought by Dr. MacGeagh, a Harley Street specialist in 1891. He would drive in his carriage to Tonbridge and catch the train to London thus being an early commuter. The castle passed to T E Foster MacGeagh and he sold it in 1919 to Henry Thomas Pearson, whose family occupied it until 1946. During the war it was used as a watchtower by the Royal Observer Corps. The unoccupied castle changed hands several times after the Pearsons' left, and was demolished in 1951, except for the tower, which was saved by the painter Bernard Hailstone. Now the entrance gateway and lodges of the Castle still stand - a heavy Gothic presence on the street - as does the Stable Court with two turreted pavilions, which are all in private ownerships, and new homes have been built in the grounds.


Hadlow Tower, 51°13′21″N 0°20′20″E / 51.2225°N 0.3388°E / 51.2225; 0.3388 known locally as May's Folly, is a Victorian Gothic tower, and one of the largest in Britain. The top 40 feet (12 m) - an octagonal lantern - has had to be removed for safety reasons, but plans are in hand to replace it. The Grade I listed tower was badly damaged in the Great Storm of 1987, and the lantern was removed in 1996. Its condition has worsened rapidly. The cost of repairs is estimated at £4 million. In July 2006, Tonbridge and Malling borough council announced that it would issue a compulsory purchase order (CPO) on the tower in an effort to save it. This CPO was confirmed in March 2008 by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, with plans for the council to take possession of the Tower and transfer it to the Vivat Trust in late 2009, so that the necessary repair and restoration work can be undertaken, which will include short-term holiday accommodation, with a separate exhibition centre on part of the ground floor.

In January 2011, it was announced that the tower had been compulsorily purchased by Tonbridge and Malling District Council, who were to sell it to the Vivat Trust for £1. Restoration of the tower, including the replacement of the lantern would commence in February 2011, with completion scheduled for September 2012. The project will be funded by grants from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The latter has granted £2,000,000 of the estimated £4,000,000 restoration cost. When restored, the tower will offer holiday accommodation, with public exhibition space on the ground floor. On 24 February 2011, Hadlow Castle was transferred to the Vivat Trust.

  • Bignell, Alan (1986). The Kent Village Book. Countryside Books. 
  • Thirsk, Joan (1985). Hadlow Castle, a Short History. Hadlow: Hadlow Historical Society. ISBN 0 9510425 0 5. 


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Building Activity

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    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com
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