Along the Mole Gap Trail…
Former home of ‘a stray and wayward genius’
When you reach the crest of the hill look north-east across the Mole Gap towards the imposing, stuccoed façade of Cherkley Court. The eclectic style has something of a French feel about it. It was built in 1870s for Abraham Dixon, a northern industrialist who retired to Surrey for health reasons and was much respected for his local philanthropy. The house was acquired in 1907 by a very different owner, the newspaper magnate Max Aitken, later Lord Beaverbrook. He was a member of Churchill’s cabinet during the Second World War and masterminded the production of spitfires crucial to victory in the Battle of Britain. Harold Macmillan referred to him as ‘a stray and wayward genius’. The house was the location for many meetings with Churchill and numerous other famous personalities. Today it is referred to as ‘Beaverbrook’ and functions as a hotel, spa and restaurant.