The original mansion was built between 1849 and 1854 by owner Thomas Fowler Wood. This was then added to in 1855-59 for the Quaker banker Henry Edward Gurney.
He later became bankrupt, and so the house and lands were sold to Joshua Fielden MP of Todmorden in Lancashire. The architect John Gibson built the present mansion including the tower, inspired by the Palace of Westminster.
In Gurney’s time, one of the popular events of the year was the “Festival of Ragged School Teachers” for which he invited teachers from the East London Schools to meet at Nutfield Priory. A staunch advocate of education for all, he paid for special trains to bring them to Redhill and they dined and “enjoyed the gardens and grounds”.
The wood, stone carvings and wood panels are all original, as are the beautiful marble fireplaces. The organ is also original, built in 1874 and has been carefully restored by the Shepherd Brothers of London and sings as sweetly today as it always did.
Married to Ellen, Joshua Fielden MP was very much a family man; they had 11 children, and cared deeply for the welfare of others. It was his father ‘Honest John Fielden, MP’ who was responsible for passing the Ten Hours Bill in 1847. This limited the hours of women and children in the textile industry to ten hours a day.
When Joshua died in 1887, he left Nutfield in trust for his wife Ellen for her lifetime. She lived on for another 40 years and stayed at Nutfield for almost all that time until 1920, when she sold the house and moved to London.
At this time Nutfield Priory was sold to a Mr Ferris and stayed a private residence until 1930 when Mr O Picton Davis purchased it and turned it into a luxurious, very expensive hotel with a nine hole golf course around the lake.
During the Second World War, the mansion was commandeered and Canadian soldiers were stationed here. Later Nutfield was a base for the ATS Personnel and NAAFI Training.
The years rolled on and Surrey County Council bought Nutfield Priory, later to open it as the first Secondary Modern Boarding School for severely deaf children in England. The first Headmaster was Mr. S.J Blount, who through his knowledge, expertise and love of children made the school a success and a happy home.
With the school’s closure in July 1987, the house reverted to its 1930s usage as a hotel, reopening a year later. Following sympathetic renovation and refurbishment the house has been restored to its former glory and, as a country house hotel, many people can now share in its beauty.
Now under the ownership of Hand Picked Hotels, a group of individually styled country house properties, the hotel and health club and spa have been transformed following an extensive refurbishment programme.
Local attractions and things to do in the area may not be open all year round and may require pre-booking. Please check the attraction website before visiting to avoid disappointment.