Named after Richard Hert who lived here in 1270, the original Hart House next to Woodford Green was built in 1617 for Sir Humphry Handforth, Master of the Wardrobe to James I who is said to have been entertained here when hunting nearby. The house was later owned by the Onslow family, and then by naturalist Richard Warner (1713-75), author of 'Plantae Woodfordiensis' (1771), who is reputed to have grown the first flowering gardenia here. After Warner's death Harts was owned by the Clarke Jervoise family. There are some remains of the former estate within a private garden, such as the C18th Icehouse and ruins of a former chapel/mock abbey incorporating C18th and mediaeval fragments. The present Harts House dates from 1816; it became Harts Hospital and is now converted into a private nursing home. Only a small part of the grounds remains due to the private housing development that has since overtaken the site.
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Named after Richard Hert who lived here in 1270, the original Harts, or Hart House, next to Woodford Green (q.v.) was built in 1617 for Sir Humphry Handforth, Master of the Wardrobe to James I, who is said to have been entertained at Harts when hunting at Epping Forest nearby. The house was later owned by the Onslow family. Arthur Onslow, Speaker of the House in the first half of the C18th was born here. When the Onslows moved to Surrey they sold the estate to Mr Sherman, a draper of Cheapside, whose daughter sold it in 1722 to the recently widowed Mrs John Warner who left it to her son Richard, whose home it became.
Richard Warner (1713-75), naturalist, author of 'Plantae Woodfordiensis' (1771), and friend of Philip Miller, is reputed to have grown the first flowering gardenia here. Pehr Kalm visited the site in spring 1748 and described it in his diaries. Warner was also a book-collector and Shakespearean scholar; his library was bequeathed to Wadham College, Oxford together with a sum of money for founding a botanical lectureship. After Richard Warner's death in 1775, Harts was in the ownership of the Clarke Jervoise family. There are some remains of the former estate in the form of the C18th Icehouse that is now within a private garden, which also has ruins of a former chapel/mock abbey that incorporates C18th and mediaeval fragments. The garden also contains a commemorative monument set up by Warner to his mother in 1748 in the shape of a monstrance in Portland stone, carved with exotic garden plants and flowers, the centre panel inscribed 'Matri optimae benemerenti posuit Richardus Warner 1748'.
The present Harts House dates from 1816. It became Harts Hospital and is now converted into a private nursing home but fine cedars remain visible in front of the white house. Only a small part of the original grounds remains due to the private housing development that has since been built over much of the site. Vestiges of the original garden walls can be seen throughout Harts Grove. The mid C19th South Lodge remains, also a C20th Japanese water garden, and various exotic trees are found in the vicinity and surrounding streets, including monkey puzzle and eucalyptus. The gates of Hart House border on Woodford Green and Warner’s Path that runs along the Green commemorates Richard Warner. Although the remnants of the water gardens and folly are privately owned, part of the Section 106 Agreement agreed with the developers designated a public right of way.
EH history files; Harts & Flowers; Peter Lawrence and Georgina Green, Woodford, A Pictorial History, Phillimore, 1995; Edward Walford, 'Village London, the Story of Greater London, Part 2 - North and East', first published 1883/4 (1985 ed., The Alderman Press)