Beddington Park was the former manor house of the Carew family, lost to money lenders and bad debts by Charles Hallowell Carew in the 1850s.
The Domesday Book mentions two Beddington estates and these were united by Nicholas Carew to form Carew Manor in 1381. The Manor, once a medieval moated house, was home to the Royal Female Orphanage from 1866 until 1968. It now contains council offices and Carew Manor School.
In about 1591 Sir Walter Raleigh secretly, and without royal permission, married one of Queen Elizabeth I’s maids of honour, Elizabeth Throckmorton of Carew Manor. Raleigh spent time in the Tower of London for this and Elizabeth was expelled from the court but the marriage appears to have been a genuine love-match and survived the imprisonment. A popular story is that when Raleigh was beheaded by James I in 1618, Elizabeth claimed his embalmed head and kept it in a bag for the rest of her life. His body was buried in St Margaret’s, Westminster, and after his wife’s death 29 years later, Raleigh’s head was returned to his tomb and interred at St. Margaret’s Church. Local myths claim the head remains in Beddington park or was inherited by his son and buried with him. The Grade I listed great hall (or banqueting hall), containing a fine hammerbeam roof, survives from the mediaeval house. In the grounds are part of the orangery built in the early 18th century around orange trees planted by Sir Francis Carew (claimed to be the first planted in England) and an early 18th-century Grade II* listed dovecote.