1891 – Carpenders Park, Watford, Hertfordshire

SM 57 – Feb 16

Robert Russell Carew – who made his fortune in India growing sugar and producing gin and rum [1] – purchased the mansion at Carpenders Park in 1862, in the area that used to be known as the Woodwalks, near Watford.   A stream runs through the grounds of the Carpenders estate, and flows under the remains of an old ornamental bridge; through several sluices and what would once have been an ornamental fishpond, and down a 10-15ft waterfall on its way to the River Colne, near Watford.

5-1-57 - Carpenders Cascade - N Hamilton

 Fig 1  –  A Pulhamite cascade in Carpenders Park   (Photo by Neil Hamilton)

 This is certainly a Pulhamite construction, and some of the rendering has come away from one of the sluices.   A date – which looks as if it could be either 1851 or 1854 – is carved into its stonework, but this cannot be correct, since no reference to the site is contained in James 2’s promotional booklet of c1877, so 1891 or 1894 may be the more likely possibilities.

The house fell derelict after the war years of 1939-45, and the site was compulsorily purchased by Watford Council in the early 1950s for use as a cemetery.   If it had not been for that, it is likely that the existence of this site – whose features have remained untouched – would probably never have been known.   One of its smaller cascades is shown in Fig 1.

Some of the rendering has come away from one of the sluices, and a date is carved into its stonework, which looks like it could be either 1851 or 1854.   It is certainly a Pulhamite construction, although the dates cannot be during the 1850s since no reference to the site is contained in James 2’s booklet, so it is assumed that 1891 or 1894 are the more likely possibilities.

1891 just gets the vote, because this is a year in which Robert Carew is known to have made some generous donations towards the restoration and refurbishment of St Matthew’s Church, in nearby Oxhey.   That may be a fanciful connection, but he was obviously a man who had money to donate for the benefit of the community, so perhaps he held some back for himself . . .

Old maps show summerhouses on the estate, and more bridges across the stream – all long gone.   The house was sold off in 1914, and became a school for ‘the daughters of gentlefolk’, after which it was requisitioned at the outbreak of the Second World War for use as a Headquarters for Anti-Aircraft Command.   The house fell derelict after the war, and the site was compulsorily purchased by Wembley Council in the early 1950s for use as a cemetery.   If it had not been for that, it is likely that the existence of this site – whose features have remained untouched – would probably never have been known.

 

 

 

[1]     http://www.londoncentral.org/photos/carpndrs/cphistory.htm

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