Eridge Park is steeped in history, reputedly the oldest enclosed deer park in England. The Park itself is mentioned in the Domesday Book where it is called Reredfelee and was owned by Odo, the brother of William the Conqueror.
The manor of Eridge was given to the ancestors of the Nevill family by Edward III in 1338. In 1411 it was inherited by Richard Beauchamp who was both
Earl of Warwick and Lord Abergavenny. Richard’s daughter and heiress married the younger son of Ralph Nevill, Earl of Westmoreland, from whom the present Marquess is directly descended.
Henry VIII often hunted here and Elizabeth I stayed at the castle for
six nights in 1573 on her progress to Northiam. In 1606 Lord North, another of Eridge’s guests, discovered the Chalybeate Spring in what is now Tun- bridge Wells.
There was a flourishing iron foundry here in the 16th century when a series of mill ponds was created to provide
a good supply of water. In 1787 Henry Nevill, the second Earl of Abergavenny, began building Eridge Castle in exuberant Strawberry Hill Gothic style and, in the years following, the Eridge landscape was enhanced by opening up vistas, walks and carriage drives, constructing follies and the rebuilding of old workers’ cottages in ornate Estate style.
The Prince of Wales was a frequent visitor at Eridge shooting parties in the late 1800s, as was Benjamin Disraeli who, it is said, came here for the venison and strawberries. In more recent years, several members of the present royal family have stayed here.
In the late 1930s the castle was demolished and the current Georgian style mansion house was built. It is now the home of Christopher, sixth Marquess of Abergavenny, and his family.
The family motto, Ne Vile Vilis (wish no evil), you will see emblazoned above the entrance to the stable block along with the heraldic device of a bull with Tudor rose and portcullis. This device, and a large ‘A’ tied with tassels, is found on many buildings in the district.
The house and formal gardens still enjoy stunning, peaceful views over
the Park although the Estate today is also home to many small businesses in former farm and Estate buildings. It also provides a unique venue for weddings, private parties, open air concerts, game and country fairs and film locations.
The Eridge Fair has been running for over 55 years and raised money for several local charities including Hospice in the Weald, Eridge Village Hall and Eridge Church. In recent years the fair has attracted in excess of 2000 visitors every other year.