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Trent Park is on land formerly part of the royal hunting forest of Enfield Chase, which in 1777 was enclosed and divided by Act of Parliament with the consent of George III; the fringes of the Chase were assigned to neighbouring parishes and farms and the remaining area divided into lots and leased as farmland. The Act also provided that the deer should have the protection of the ancient park laws as a result of which a small part was earmarked as a miniature hunting park, the principal portion of which was granted to the King's physician Dr Richard Jebb, together with a knighthood, in c.1780, as a reward for saving the life of the King's brother, the Duke of Gloucester at Trento in the Austrian Tyrol, hence the name of his estate. A deer park of 81 hectares and lake were laid out and in c.1777 one of the old Enfield Chase lodges was converted by Sir William Chambers into a villa known as Trent Place. The house was extended to the east, west and south in the late C18th/early C19th, again in the mid C19th, and was then largely rebuilt between 1894 and 1931.
The estate went through a number of owners after 1787 when, on Sir Richard's death, it was purchased by the Earl of Cholmondeley. He subsequently sold it in 1793 to John Wigston, who was probably responsible for enlarging the house, and who embellished the estate. He sold the property in 1810 to Sir Henry Lushington who, becoming bankrupt, sold it in 1813 to John Cumming, who was responsible for improvements to the house and grounds, allegedly spending some £20,000. In 1833 the estate again changed hands, and was in the ownership of a banker, David Bevan whose son Robert Cooper Lee Bevan inherited in 1837 and lived here for 53 years. He was responsible for renaming the estate Trent Park and carried out many improvements including rebuilding much of the house including the south front. By the mid C19th the deer park was 283.5 hectares, and the whole estate 1,215 hectares with a 7-mile ride around its perimeter. Robert Bevan was succeeded by his son Francis in 1890, who applied to the Duchy of Lancaster in 1893 for a building grant to reconstruct the house.
Francis Bevan sold the estate in 1909 to Sir Edward Sassoon, merchant banker and MP for Hythe. His son Philip Sassoon succeeded upon his death in 1912, and rebuilt parts of the house and laid out new gardens. He rebuilt the east and north fronts of the house, changed the windows and refaced the house in C18th bricks from Devonshire House. Between 1926 - 1931 the Victorian additions were demolished or altered except for the west service wing and projecting wings were added to the south front by Philip Tilden. Sassoon laid out formal gardens and pleasure grounds around the house, embellishing them with fine monuments and sculptures, including lead figures of Actaeon and Venus dating from c.1700 brought here from Wrest Park in the 1930s. The formal gardens were laid out in the 1910s in three parts; the Wisteria Walk has a pergola with Italian pink marble columns and is bordered to the west by the wall of the kitchen garden to the south. To the north the gardens continue as three pairs of beds forming long borders enclosed by yew hedges, to the north of which are four garden 'rooms', two on each side of the central walk. Originally formal gardens continued further north and had views from a rond-point on which some of the statue groups and water gardens were aligned along an avenue of limes, but these views have since been lost due to new buildings. To the south of the forecourt of the house Sassoon planted lawns with mature trees and daffodils.
After Sassoon's death in 1939 the house was requisitioned as the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre for enemy airmen, and an officers' prison of war camp. In 1947 the house with c.81 hectares of land became the Trent Park Teachers' Training College, which became Middlesex Polytechnic in 1974 and then Middlesex University in 1992. The entire estate had been compulsorily purchased as Green Belt land by Middlesex County Council in 1951, subject to the life tenancy of Sassoon's cousin Hannah Gubbay.
In 1965 the responsibility for the park came under the Greater London Council with the college under the London Borough of Enfield. When Hannah Gubbay died in 1968 most of the land became a public park, Trent Country Park, which was officially opened in 1973. After the demise of the GLC in 1986 the park became the responsibility of the London Borough of Enfield. The late C19th ornamental west entrance remains the main entrance to the park from which the main drive leads to the south front of the house via a number of woods, Oak Wood and The Rookery; an alternative approach to the house, no longer in use, was from Bramley Road. An avenue of limes planted in the 1840s remains, at either end of which are early C18th monuments brought to the park by Sir Philip from Wrest Park, a tall stone column with pineapple finial inscribed to the memory of Jemima Crewe, Duchess of Kent, and a short obelisk with melon finial inscribed to Henry, Duke of Kent. A path leads north from the westerly monument to the Country Park's café and car park and thence to Oak Wood. Some of the woodland dates from pre-1606 and there are fine specimens that include oak and hornbeam with some birch, hazel, beech, holly, sweet chestnut and plantations of Scots and Corsican pine, Western hemlock and larch. Birdlife is abundant with 3 species of woodpecker, nuthatch and treecreeper. Hay meadows within the park are harvested to encourage a diversity of grassland flowers.
Barbara Simms, 'Trent Park Middlesex, The History of the Designed Landscape', 2000; William Robinson 'History and Antiquities of Enfield I', 1823; William Keane, 'The Beauties of Middlesex', 1850; 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); Stephen Doree 'Trent Park, A Short History to 1939', 1974; Patrick Campbell, 'Trent Park: A History' (Middlesex University Press, 1997); Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998); Country Life: xiii, 1903; lxvi 1929; lxix 1931; lxxii 1932; Edward Walford, 'Village London, the Story of Greater London, Part 2 - North and East', first published 1883/4 (1985 ed., The Alderman Press); The Paul Drury Partnership for LB Enfield, 'Trent Park Conservation Area Character Appraisal', 2006