Myddelton House Gardens

Myddelton House

I went out to explore north London on Sunday and discovered a wonderful little gem in Enfield. Myddelton House Gardens cover eight acres and have been restored to reflect their fascinating origins as the work of Edward Augustus Bowles, a self-taught gardener, artist and botanist.

The Gardens

Myddelton House was built in around 1812 and named after Sir Hugh Myddelton, an engineering ‘genius’ who created the New River, which flowed through the grounds between 1613 and 1968. The Bowles family lived in the house for many years. Edward Augustus Bowles was born in 1865 and, apart from a few years away, lived in Myddelton House until his death in 1954. His work on the Gardens brought him fame, and his philanthropic actions made him a beloved local figure.

The Gardens

I reached the Gardens via Turkey Street Overground station followed by a short walk. There were a few other visitors around, but the place was pleasantly quiet. The house is beautiful, but not open to the public; a small museum recounts Bowles’ life and work, displaying some interesting artefacts. There is also a small cafe, which I spent some time in after exploring the Gardens.

The Gardens

There is lots to see: ornate lawns give way to wildflower meadows, yew and pine trees can be seen, despite the lateness of the year crocuses flower sporadically. There is a ‘Tulip Lawn’, which I imagine is impressive in the summer, and the wisteria apparently flowers beautifully in May. One corner of the Gardens is dubbed the ‘Lunatic Asylum’ as it is dedicated to unusual plants.

A glasshouse

Bowles liked to collect random artefacts to decorate his gardens, including stones from London Bridge, pieces from the original St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Enfield Market Cross. There are some beautiful Victorian glasshouses which are still used to grow fruit and vegetables.

Enfield Market Cross
Enfield Market Cross

I was very impressed by the Gardens and I imagine they are even more beautiful in the spring and summer. I would like to go back, and I’d recommend them to anyone in the local area.

FACTS

Address: Bulls Cross, Enfield, EN2 9HG

Website: visitleevalley.org.uk/en/content/cms/nature/gardens-heritage/myddelton-house-gardens

Opening Hours: 10am-5pm (or dusk if earlier)

Prices: Free

Forty Hall and Estate

Forty Hall

Forty Hall is an estate in Enfield, north London, a Grade I listed Jacobean mansion set in a Grade II listed estate. The hall and estate was fully restored in 2012 so I thought it would be the perfect time to make a visit.

It was slightly tricky to reach the house, as the journey involved a bit of walking. However it was worth it as it really is beautiful. Outside, the mansion is situated in some gorgeous parkland, while on the inside, the restoration has been carefully done with an engaging exhibition telling the story of Sir Nicholas Rainton, the 17th century owner of Forty Hall.

Being tired and/or lazy (delete as appropriate), I didn’t explore in detail the 273-acre 18th century landscaped estate, which boasts an ornamental lake, medieval fishing ponds and streams, and a walled garden. I think this would be a lovely venue to return to for a picnic. Events for all ages, including children, take place all year round and the residents of Enfield are pretty lucky to have such a gorgeous estate on their doorstep.

FACTS

Address: Forty Hill, Enfield, EN2 9HA

Website: fortyhallestate.co.uk

Opening Hours: Tues-Fri 11am-5pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-5pm. Closes at 4pm in winter.

Prices: Free

The end of the line

The New Year only began a fortnight ago but already I’ve been keeping up with my exploration of the Tube. Last week I travelled on the eastbound Piccadilly Line and ticked off a few stations. I didn’t quite make it to the end as I had to go back into central London to meet a friend*, but I did manage about four stations and also took a detour to take a look at the window of George Moore Menswear at 99 Myddleton Road, near Bounds Green station. I read about the store in this blog post by Peter Berthoud: this is no ordinary window display. Established during World War II, the business was run first by George and then by his son Brian. When Brian retired, he left the window display as it was on the last day of trading. The items in the window – from shirts and jumpers to underpants and socks – are slowly decaying. I took some pictures, but sadly the window was rather dirty so they didn’t come out very well.

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On Saturday, I set off to finish what I’d started, sitting on the train all the way to where it terminated at Cockfosters.

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The end of the line: Cockfosters station

Out here, it hardly seems as though you’re in London at all. There is a nice park close by, which I walked around for a little bit. I then rode one stop to Oakwood, from where I took the bus to Enfield town centre and from there to Forty Hall. This recently restored seventeenth-century house was home to Sir Nicholas Rainton, a former Mayor of London, and is free to visit. I wandered round for a little while and spent some time looking out onto the lake.

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After taking the bus back to Enfield, I spent some time looking round the shops. There are several decent shops here and I was particularly impressed with the Waitrose, which had a huge alcohol display right across the glass wall.

Afterwards I got on another bus, which took me to Turnpike Lane – another station crossed off the list.

* We went to see Great Expectations at the new Leicester Square Odeon Studio, as we had free cinema tickets thanks to O2. I’m not a huge fan of Charles Dickens, but I enjoyed the film, which was well-acted particularly by Helena Bonham-Carter and Ralph Fiennes.