The Friends of Grovelands Park, Winchmore Hill, N21
A brief History of Grovelands Park
Grovelands Park was originally a heavily wooded area, close to the southern border of Enfield Chase (a royal hunting forest formed in the 12th and 13th centuries) up until 1777.
In the 1700’s Southgate became a fashionable place for the wealthy London merchants to build their mansions. In the 18th century the estate was owned by the third Duke of Chandos. It was sold in 1796 to Walker Gray, a Quaker brandy merchant from Tottenham.
Mr. Walker Gray (related to the Walkers who owned the Arnos Grove Estate) purchased 230 acres of land in 1796 and in 1798 built the existing house to the design of the eminent architect, John Nash. The grounds, including the lake, were designed by Humphry Repton a leading landscape gardener of that era.the landscape designer Humphry Repton, who reputedly chose the site of the house, laid out gardens and pleasure grounds, carriage drives and entrances, planted the park and created the fine artificial lake and islands which form the main feature of the park, formed by damming the Bourne stream..
After Walker Gray's death in 1834, the house and the estate was then inherited by his nephew John Donnithorne Taylor. He retired to Southgate Grove which he renamed first Woodlands and then Grovelands. He proceeded to purchase neighbouring plots of land as they came up for sale. Taylor tried to keep Southgate rural, stopping development by refusing to sell land for building.
Mr. Taylor enjoyed hunting and had a small herd of deer on his estate. To prevent the deer getting near to the house or damaging flower and vegetable gardens, he arranged for a ha-ha (sunken fence) to be constructed, most of which is still visible today. At the time of Mr. Taylor’s death in 1885, the Grovelands Estate had increased to 600 acres.
After his death in 1885 the estate passed to his son and grandson. The southern extension of the estate was sold in 1902 and subsequently developed for housing, but the part which contained Grovelands house was not sold.
Captain Taylor lived at Grovelands until 1907, but in 1911 64 acres (26 hectares) of the grounds were purchased by Southgate Urban District Council for a public park for the sum of £22,893, thus saving it from housing development. Grovelands Park was officially opened on 12 April 1913 and the park was later extended.
Grovelands House was unoccupied from 1907 to 1916 when it became a military hospital for wounded troops returning from France in the 1914-1918 Great War.
In 1921 it was purchased by the Royal Northern Hospital and then in 1948 it was adopted by the NHS and used as a convalescent home until 1977, after which it remained unoccupied until 1985.
In 1985 the Priory Hospitals Group purchased and restored the house for use as a private psychiatric hospital which it remains, re-named Grovelands Priory, with some new buildings added behind the house.
Grovelands Park still features many trees found in the original wooded area, for example, oak, beech, birch and hornbeam.An outlet stream flows under Church Hill towards Houndsden Road, where it joins Houndsden Gutter. This eventually joins with Salmons Brook at The Chine. Church Hill was originally named “Gallows or Gallis Hill”, after the gallows which were erected there. The main gate is named after Lord Inverforth who owned Arnos Grove Estate in 1903.The house is a Grade II listed building and Grovelands Park is on the register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
The following information is taken from the Enfield Council Leaflet entitled "Repton and Nash at Grovelands Park".
Repton and Nash at Grovelands Park
Grovelands Park is Grade II on the Register of Historic Landscapes and Gardens because it is a typical example of the Repton and Nash collaboration.
Whilst living in Wales, John Nash met and later developed a successful partnership with landscape garden designer, Humphry Repton, who firmly believed in considering the house and its place in the landscape that surrounded it.
Their partnership involved a design where Repton would landscape the grounds, surrounding a country house designed by Nash. Together they worked on many successful commissions, including Regents Park, St James Park, The Brighton Pavilion, Blaise Hamlet and Grovelands Park.
John Nash designed Grovelands House using Stucco and Portland Stone. The motif within the arch, surrounding the ground floor windows is unique to Nash.
Today the park has changed a little. The country house (now a private hospital) still stands in sweeping grounds, leading to a lake, with the boundaries disguised with many trees.
John Nash was born in 1752, the son of a Lambeth Millwright. He became an architect following a short apprenticeship with the renowned architect Sir Robert Taylor.
John Nash is renowned for several architectural styles including Gothic, Italianate, Palladian and Greek, however, his style is normally described as neo-classical. He is famous for many London landmarks including the layout of Trafalgar Square and Regent Street, Carlton House Terrace, Cumberland Terrace, The Royal Mews, Haymarket Theatre, the Church of All Souls at Langham Place, Buckingham Palace and Marble Arch. Marble Arch was originally built to stand at the end of the Mall, but as the State Coach was too wide to fit through the arch, it was moved to Hyde Park Corner and became known as Marble Arch.
Outside of London, John Nash is best known for his work on the remodeling of the Brighton Pavilion.
In 1811 John Nash was asked to produce plans to develop an area known as Marylebone Park. Nash envisaged a “garden city” with villas, terraced houses, a canal, crescents and lakes. The then Prince Regent, George IV, supported and financed Nash’s plans, which took 15 years to complete. Although some of the more ambitious plans were never reaslised, the white-stuccoed terraces on the perimeter of St James and Regents Park are typical Nash architecture.
John Nash died in 1835 aged 82 and is remembered as “the great planner of London”.
Humphry Repton was born in 1752 at Bury St Edmonds, the son of a collector of taxes. His family wanted him to become a prosperous Norwich merchant, however, he had other interests and spent 5 years studying such subjects as nature, gardening, botany and entomology. Humphry Repton published a book of Sketches and Hints on landscape gardening in 1795 and went on to publish four more books.
Humphry Repton would produce bound volumes, known as “Red Books” for his clients, which would show the garden in a before and after state using detailed water-colours and illustrations. The Red Book for Grovelands has been lost over time. Humphry Repton believed that a successful landscape garden required “the powers of the landscape painter and the practical gardener”.
Humphry Repton believed in considering the house and its place in the landscape that surrounded it, in his designs. He believed in making the transition from a terrace near the house, through a serpentine park to a distant view, introducing separate flowerbeds, gravel walks and small flowerbeds of various plants.
He felt the garden should display the natural beauty of the area, whilst hiding any defects such as evidence of ploughed fields or labour, and disguising boundary lines.
Humphry Repton undertook more than 400 commissions during his 30-year career, working for a variety of clients including the Dukes of Portland and Bedford. His work is said to epitomise the “landscape garden”. Humphry Repton was keen to follow in the footsteps of Capability Brown and indeed became his successor. However, much of his work was undertaken during the Napoleonic Wars and he felt that he did not have the same opportunities and resources as Brown.
Humphry Repton worked on many successful commissions including Tatton Park in Cheshire, Woburn Abbey, Harewood House, Bayham Abbey, Longleat, Sheringham Park and Betchworth House.
Humphry Repton died in 1818 and is buried in the churchyard at Aylsham in Norfolk.