A gated driveway leads to our spectacular venue featuring Charles Rennie Mackintosh rose-and-leaf windows and the original Victorian staircase and gallery.
The main house, built in 1887, has 59 bright rooms that have been extensively refurbished whilst retaining the original character, decorative ironwork, coloured glass and moulded ceilings. The south elevation is particularly impressive, with its fine terrace overlooking the rolling Surrey hills.
Robert Denholm House was bought by the present owner in 1994. Bedrooms, reception rooms, staff kitchens and the old dairy are now rented out as comfortable office suites. The original servants’ quarters are used for administration, and the basement for secure storage units. The dining room is now named the Capenor Room after the much older house that used to exist east of the present location and went on to become formal gardens. The camellia terrace planted by a previous owner, Mr Robert Hudson, in the 1890s still comprises an attractive part of our grounds today.
The name Capenor may come from the old English word ‘cape’ meaning ‘look-out place’ + ‘ora’ meaning ‘slope, flat-topped hill’, which certainly describes our location. There are references to Richard Capenore (from Capenor in Nutfield Surrey) as far back as 1332.
Previously used as an elegant family home, the house was requisitioned in 1939 to be the headquarters of the Royal Canadian Airforce and serve as the officers’ mess. During their time in residence they dug out the original wine cellars to extend the basement along almost the entire length of the ground floor. During our renovations, we discovered some Spitfire parts there.
Post-war residents have included members of the Thomas Cook family, a group of Roman Catholic monks and a firm manufacturing wall planners for aircraft parts.
In 1964 the house became the headquarters of the National Sunday School Union (NSSU) which subsequently changed its name to the National Christian Education Council (NCEC). It was during this period that the house was renamed from Capenor House to Robert Denholm House after the wartime General Secretary of the NCEC.
Entertainment and receptions within the house have been recorded as far back as 1890 when Mr Hudson became the High Sheriff of Surrey. Local documents record that he used to entertain the local hunt, the Surrey Staghounds, with an ‘elegant champagne breakfast in the hall’ in the presence of a ‘large influential company that included many ladies who viewed on from the gallery’.