Inventory Site Record

Myddelton House Gardens * (Enfield)

Brief Description

* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

Myddelton House was built in 1818 for Henry Carrington Bowles, last Governor of the New River Company. It is named after Sir Hugh Myddelton, architect of the New River, and traces of the Enfield Loop remain in the gardens. In 1852 the property was inherited by Henry Carrington Treacher on condition he changed his surname to Bowles; his son E. A. Bowles lived here and from the 1890s was largely responsible for the magnificent gardens although the overall design, paths and much structural planting pre-dates his work. One-time Vice President of the RHS, he was an authority on certain plants and author of a number of books. After his death in 1954 the property transferred to the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine and University of London's School of Pharmacy until 1968 when it was purchased by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority as their headquarters, the School of Pharmacy retaining kitchen gardens and the Royal Free retaining fields.

Practical Information
Site location:
Bulls Cross, Enfield
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Open to public?
Opening times:
Open daily, Apr-Sept 10-4.30pm, Oct-Mar 10-3pm. Closed Christmas & New Year
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 6 times, most recently in 2018.
Special conditions:
Admission £3.30, £2.80 concessions (2010). No dogs
plants for sale, wheelchair access, café (Suns only?), toilets, parking
Public and Private Guided Walks (advance booking); E A Bowles of Myddelton House Society events
Public transport:
Rail: Turkey Street. Bus: 217, 317, 310, 311
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.leevalleypark.org.uk

Full Site Description

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

Myddelton House was built in 1818 by George Ferry and John Wallen for Henry Carrington Bowles, the last Governor of the New River Company, replacing an earlier Elizabethan house known as Bowling Green House due to its association with the bowling alley of Elsyng Palace now within the parkland of Forty Hall (q.v.). Michael Garnault had purchased this house in 1724 and it stayed in the Garnault family until 1809 when it passed to his sister Anne, wife of Henry Carrington Bowles, on the death of Daniel Garnault III. Daniel Garnault had intended to rebuild the house and name it Myddelton House after the architect of the New River, Sir Hugh Myddelton. A goldsmith by trade, Myddelton, as a member of the House of Commons Committee considering water shortage in London, offered to undertake a scheme to bring water 38 miles from Amwell Springs in Hertfordshire through Enfield to Islington. Work began on the New River in 1609 with financial backing from James I, and was completed in 1613. Despite falling into the water during an inspection of the work, the king knighted Myddelton in 1622. During the building works Myddelton lived at the top of Bush Hill in Halliwick House, now demolished. The Enfield Loop became redundant in 1859 when the New River was straightened and later taken underground, but traces can be found throughout the borough, including in the south of Myddelton House Gardens, which was cut east-west by a branch, now dry, but the single span iron bridge, erected in 1832 can still be seen.

Myddelton House stayed in the Bowles family until in 1852 it was inherited through the female line by Henry Carrington Treacher. However, his inheritance was only on condition that he changed his surname to Bowles, thus becoming Henry Carrington Bowles. His son, Edward Augustus Bowles (1865-1954) lived here and from the 1890s was largely responsible for creating the magnificent gardens although the overall design, paths and much of the structural planting pre-dates Bowles' work; the pond was already in existence and by the mid 1860s had been extended to its current shape and size; in the early C19th it was surrounded by an early C16th yew hedge, a few yews of which remain on the north side of a curving lawn, called New River Lawn and which marks the course of the New River. Although the water channel was retained when the New River was diverted in 1859, it was infilled in 1962 when a wrought iron footbridge at the west end of the gardens was also removed. The largest remaining yew is now encircled by a massive wisteria at the eastern end of the New River Lawn beside the 1832 iron bridge. Bowles' father was responsible for the Tulip Terrace, created in the late C19th and now restored, consisting of beds edged in box and which overlooks the kitchen garden at a lower level.

Bowles inherited the property in 1918 on the death of his father; a member of the Royal Horticultural Society Council from 1908, and vice president from 1926, he has been described as 'the greatest amateur gardener of this country, and the most distinguished botanist and horticulturist serving the Royal Horticultural Society' (H R Fletcher 'The Story of the RHS', 1969). His interest and knowledge of plants 'embraced not only plants from the humblest weed to the most sophisticated orchid - with something of a bias in favour of the weed - but everything connected with botany as a living science'. He was an authority on certain plants, including crocus, colchicum, galanthus, narcissus and anemone, had a fine library, wrote a number of books and was also an artist, painting numerous pictures of plants and flowers. Originally intended for the Church, early in his life he began to suffer serious asthma attacks, which not only prevented this calling, but took him to the Alps where he began to collect and bring back plants. He kept Myddelton House much as it was left to him by his parents, installing no electricity or telephone, although he did have gas installed in the kitchen.

Attached to the house is a conservatory that houses two early C18th lead ostriches from the stables of a house in Clay Hill demolished in the 1890s but once the property of antiquary Richard Gough (d.1832); these were originally located on either side of the iron bridge in the gardens. As well as fine specimens of plants of all types, including the National Collection of Dyke Medal winning Iris with a provisional award from Plant Heritage (NCCPG), Myddelton House Gardens contains Enfield's 1826 Market Cross which Bowles discovered in a local builder's yard, an Edward VII pew from Sandringham Church, a petrified tree, a well-bore from the White Webbs New River Pumping Station, and a Tudor diamond shaped brickwork pillar that Bowles named 'The Irishman's Shirt' (a plaque attached gives the explanation). By 1914 he had established his 'lunatic asylum' the name he gave to a garden planted with curiosities such as corkscrew hazel, twisted hawthorn, hedgehog holly etc.; this garden was also laid out for Japanese plants. He began a Rock Garden in the 1890s, which was abandoned after his death, and also a Cactus Bank that he himself abandoned due to the unsuitability of the situation and climate for succulents. An early C19th building west of the stables housed part of his collection of artefacts and was known as the Museum, but this collection was dispersed after Bowles' death in 1954 when the gardens and house were transferred to the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine and the University of London's School of Pharmacy. The gardens were then managed under the guidance of a Gardens Advisory Committee chaired by garden writer Frances Perry.

In 1968 the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority purchased the house and gardens and continue to use Myddelton House as their headquarters, although the School of Pharmacy retained the kitchen gardens to the south-east and the Royal Free Hospital retained the fields to the north, north-west and west of the gardens for use as sports pitches. These fields were known as Reynold's Field and Kenney Land in the C18th and were part of Bulls Cross Farm, becoming part of the Myddelton House property probably following the sale of Forty Hall in 1787 when they were laid out as 'open park scenery' (Keane, 1850). The kitchen garden, whose C19th greenhouses were demolished in the 1960s, is now a Pharmacognosy Garden for studying drugs of plant origin, and is laid out with beds set in grass.

Initially Myddelton House Gardens fell into disrepair and some plants were lost, but since 1984 the LVRPA along with the E A Bowles of Myddelton House Society have been restoring the gardens in the style of Bowles. Today they consist of a series of garden areas with different designs or planting themes, loosely divided and connected by lawns or paths. These garden areas include the Lunatic Garden, Tom Tiddler's Ground, a Wild Garden, a Fern Garden, the Rose Garden now restored, which was laid out in 1914 around the old Enfield Market Cross with a summerhouse at the northern end adjoining the Irishman's Shirt, the Pergola Garden of 1914 again recently restored. To the west of these garden areas is the pond. A new conservatory was installed in the 1990s, purchased from the Glasgow Garden Festival (date). Archaeological evaluations at Myddelton House have unearthed structural remains that might be part of Bowling Green House, and in March 2005 archaeological excavations revealed dressed limestone and a large amount of bottle glass, part of which may have belonged to an onion-shaped bottle of c.1680-1720.

The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England was established in 1984 and was commonly called English Heritage. In April 2015 it split into 2 separate entities, Historic England (HE), which continues to champion and protect the historic environment, and the English Heritage Trust, whose role is to look after the 400+ historic sites and monuments owned by the state. HE manages the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) that includes over 400,000 items ranging from prehistoric monuments to office blocks, battlefields and parks, which benefit from legal protection.

Sources consulted:

NHLE Register update 2000; Revd George Hodson (Church History) and Edward Ford (General History), 'A History of Enfield in the County of Middlesex including its Royal and Ancient Manors, the Chase and the Duchy of Lancaster, with Notices of its Worthies, and its Natural History, Etc. Also an account of The Church and the Charities, and a History of the New River' (Enfield Press, printed by J H Meyers, 1873); Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998); Arthur Mee 'The King's England: London North of the Thames except the City and Westminster' (Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 1972); Dawn Macleod, 'The Gardener's London' (Duckworth); Geoff Garvey & Leigh Hatts 'Country Walks around London' (Mainstream Publishing with London Transport, 1998). See also: http://www.eabowlessociety.org.uk; The Paul Drury Partnership for LB Enfield, 'Forty Hill Conservation Area Character Appraisal', 2009

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ341991 (534202,199194)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
Site management:
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
E A Bowles
Listed structures:
LBII: Myddelton House; early C19th stable block; late C18th redbrick west wall to east of the gardens; 1832 Iron Bridge; Lake Terrace; Enfield Market Cross
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

NHLE grade:
Grade II
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Conservation Area name:
Forty Hill
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Enfield Chase Heritage Area AOSC (Area of Special Character)
Other LA designation:
Included in National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens

Myddelton House Gardens *

Myddelton House - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 20/08/19 12:02

'Myddelton House, the Seat of H. C. B. Bowles, Esq. JP', reproduced from Edward Ford, 'A History of Enfield in the County of Middlesex', 1873
Myddelton House c.1821, reproduced from Edward Walford, 'Greater London' vol. I, 1898

Click a photo to enlarge.

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