|Boxer's Lake Open Space||Enfield|
Boxer's Lake Open Space is a relic of the C18th landscape park of South Bailey Lodge, which originated as one of the 3 lodges built for keepers when Enfield Chase was divided into 3 walks c.1419. William Pitt acquired the lease of South Lodge in 1747 and improved the house and laid out the grounds, enhancing 2 existing lakes with a wooded island and rustic bridge, and setting other features in an Arcadian landscape. Suburban housing was built over the estate in the 1930s but the estate boundary is still traceable in lines of residential streets such as Lonsdale Drive and Enfield Road. Boxer's Lake is all that remains of a string of lakes or fish ponds, their site marked by a lozenge of woodland between 2 sides of Lonsdale Drive through which a stream runs into Boxer's Lake. At the eastern end the brook runs through further woodland.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/02/2018
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Boxer's Lake Open Space is a relic of the C18th landscape park of South Lodge; it was originally one of a string of lakes or fishponds on the estate, with another lake to the north-west near the former site of the house, now built over with C20th housing as part of Laing's South Lodge Estate. The Survey of Enfield Chase carried out by Act of Parliament in 1777 clearly shows the lake known as Boxer's Lake and a string three lakes or fish ponds upstream, these 3 bodies of water now under Lonsdale Drive with the brook that fed them contained within a piped conduit. South Lodge was one of three lodges of Enfield Chase, established to accommodate the keepers when the chase was divided into three walks after 1419. West Lodge still survives as West Lodge Park Hotel (q.v.). Enfield Chase, a deer park to which the people of the parishes of Enfield, Edmonton, Mimms and Hadley also had commoners rights, was in the ownership of the Crown and the Duchy of Lancaster from 1421. The extensive woodland around Enfield had been granted to Geoffrey de Mandeville by William the Conqueror as part of the manors of Edmonton and Enfield. It appears that de Mandeville, who became Earl of Essex, converted the Enfield woodland into Enfield Chase in c.1136-40, enclosing over 8,000 acres for the purpose of deer hunting. It is likely to have been stocked with deer from Old Park, where the manor was located, now Bush Hill Golf Course (q.v.). By the C14th the Lords of the Manor of Enfield were the de Bohun family, Earls of Hereford, who remained in possession until 1419 when it passed to Henry V, whose father, the Earl of Derby and later Henry IV, had married Mary, younger daughter and co-heir of the late Humphry de Bohun. In 1421 Enfield Chase and Manor were allocated to the King as part of the Duchy of Lancaster, which remained landlord until the Civil War, later reverting in the Restoration. In 1635 the land enclosed for South Lodge was 65 acres.
Soon after Charles I was executed in 1649 plans were made by the new Parliament to dispose of the royal parks, forests, chases and manors in order to provide funds to pay the army. Following a survey of the land, although sale of Enfield Chase was still under fierce discussion, in 1650 it was decided to sell the three lodges as well as Old Park and Theobalds Park. During the Civil War and Commonwealth, the Chase’s game was destroyed, the trees cut down and the ground was let out as farms. South Lodge was sold for £904, at which time the land belonging to the lodge included an orchard, a 'meanly planted' garden and 58 acres of land containing 735 trees. Following the Restoration the Chase was once more restocked with deer and new trees planted.
From 1669 the property was leased by Sir Henry Bellasyse, and comprised the house, large barns, stables and coach houses, a garden and large orchard, with 75 acres of meadow and pasture and a rabbit warren. An allowance of £6 a year was made to each walk for keepers' wages, with £30 a year to buy hay for the deer. The keeper had the right each year to take a hundred loads of firewood, 2 bucks and 2 does, and to pasture unlimited cattle on the Chase. In the late C17th the Master of the Game, Ranger, and Bailiff of the Chase was Sir Basil Firebrace, whose residence was South Lodge. In 1716 Major General John Pepper purchased 24 years' leasehold of the offices on the Chase including its three keeperships and the lodges. His ability to profit from this was marred by the problems of timber and deer stealing on the Chase. General Pepper died in 1725, and in 1727 the remainder of his lease on Enfield Chase was purchased by James Brydges, first Duke of Chandos, including the lease of South Lodge, then tenanted by a Mr Cravenburgh.
In 1747 the lease of South Lodge was acquired by the Rt Hon William Pitt, later Earl of Chatham, left to him as a bequest together with £10,000. Pitt improved the house and laid out parkland and pleasure grounds in the surrounding fields. His transformation of the 25-hectare estate included enhancement of 2 existing lakes with a wooded island and rustic bridge, and among his other embellishments were a hexagon seat, a Chinese seat, a Temple of Pan, an arch, a gateway and a Pyramid that according to carpenters' bills for 1748 was '16ft square and 21ft Perpendicular'. In 1749 a circular garden seat was built to go next to the house and also a greenhouse, built at a cost of £160 15s. Pitt's efforts were much praised in his day; Gilbert West called the Arcadian grounds 'a little paradise', and the Temple of Pan was particularly admired. Mrs Montagu, from whom Pitt purchased Hayes Place in Kent in 1756, waxed lyrical on the Temple, 'shady oaks and beautiful verdure', and Thomas Whately praised the perfection of its location in the landscape. George Mason, writing in the second edition of 'An Essay on Design in Gardening' also commended Pitt, suggesting that he anticipated the later taste for the Picturesque. Pitt was an occasional resident here, and after he left in 1752 it was owned by Fane William Sharpe Esq, who was succeeded by Miss Sharpe and then by Thomas Skinner, Alderman of London and Lord Mayor in 1794.
By this time the estate had become somewhat neglected but Skinner restored it 'to its original beauty' according to William Robinson, who in his 'History and Antiquities of Enfield' (1823) described 'this enviable spot': 'The plantations, which are well wooded, are laid out with great taste, and two fine pieces of water add much to the beauty of the scenery; the views from different parts of the grounds towards Epping Forest, and adjacent hills, are rich and extensive.' By the time Robinson was writing, South Lodge was leased by a Mr Box. By 1911 a preparatory and boarding school run by Messrs W Knyvett Robertson and H L David was established at South Lodge.
Suburban housing was later built over the estate for Laing's South Lodge Estate of 1935-40 and the old lodge was demolished. A plaque on a house in Merryhills Drive commemorates the approximate location of the house and Pitt's period of residence here. Another remnant of the C18th landscape lies near the former north-west boundary where a small lake remains from a larger piece of water shown on earlier maps, now public open space at Lakeside (q.v.). Edward Ford in his History of Enfield (1873) enumerates many fine trees found on the South Lodge estate at that time, which were likely to date from Pitt’s time. He lists two fine Cedars of Lebanon, an old Spanish Chestnut, two fine deciduous cypress trees on the banks of a lake, and a 98 foot high Silver Fir that was struck by lightning in 1868. The boundary of the old estate is still traceable in lines of residential streets on Lonsdale Drive, Lowther Drive and Enfield Road, etc.
Approaching Boxer's Lake from the west, between the two sides of Lonsdale Drive lies a lozenge of woodland that marks the site of former fish ponds, through which a stream still runs and opens out to Boxer's Lake. At the eastern end of the lake is another area of woodland, with mature trees, through which the brook continues to run. A number of paths run through the woodland. A railed children's playground has the only sign giving an indication of the name of this public open space.
David Pam 'The Story of Enfield Chase', Enfield Preservation Society, 1984; William Robinson, 'The History and Antiquities of Enfield', 1823; 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); Cuthbert Wilfrid Whitaker, 'An Illustrated Historical, Statistical & Topographical Account of the Urban District of Enfield', 1911; Michael Symes, 'Pitt the Elder and Landscape Gardening', Garden History (date?); Revd George H Hodson and Edward Ford, 'A History of Enfield in the county of Middlesex including its Royal and Ancient Manors, the Chase and the Duchy of Lancaster with notes 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, 1873).