|Capel Manor Gardens||Enfield|
Capel Manor Horticultural and Environmental Centre is on part of an earlier manor acquired in 1486 by Sir William Capel, whose family was later involved in the creation of Kew Gardens. In the C16th the manor was surrendered to the Crown and then went through a number of private owners. In 1812 the estate was sold off in lots, the house eventually purchased in 1840 by James Warren, whose family owned the property until 1932. The last private owner was Lt Col Sydney Medcalf who was interested in horticulture and horses, planting numerous evergreen shrubs. After 1958 the estate and gardens became neglected but, at the suggestion of local horticulturist Frances Perry, it was acquired by Enfield Council in 1968 and opened as an agricultural college. The original C17th garden has been much overlaid but some of the trees in the grounds probably date from the C18th. Theme gardens have been created by the college to trace the history of gardens and gardening.
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Capel Manor Horticultural and Environmental Centre is on part of an earlier manor which Sir William Capel acquired in 1486 then described as the 'Manor of Honeylands and Pentriches, alias Capels'. The Capel family were later involved in the creation of Kew Gardens and became the Lords of Essex. In the C16th the manor was surrendered to the Crown and Elizabeth I granted the estate to William Thorne in 1562. The original manor house was demolished in c.1740 by the then owner Robert Jacomb who built a new house; during the 1750s a second house was built on the estate by a Mr Hamilton. When the estate was later acquired in 1793 by Rawson Hart Boddam, the former Governor of Bombay, it was this second house that became Capel House and was retained as the family residence in favour of Jacomb's house which was demolished. They had Bullsmoor Lane re-routed away from the house to its present location; many of the mature trees still to be seen are likely to date from this era. In 1812 Rawson Boddam died and the estate was sold off in lots, the house passing through a number of owners until it was purchased in 1840 by James Warren, a wealthy tea planter, whose family owned the property more or less continuously until 1932. A nephew, also James Warren, first inherited the house, upon whose death in 1904 his nephews initially leased the house and then made it their country residence, embarking upon a programme of refurbishment, which included remodelling the house in C17th style. Behind the house are late C19th stables with original fittings, a coach house with clock tower and Lodge dating from 1876.
The last private owner between 1932 and 1958 was Lt Col Sydney Medcalf who was interested in horticulture and horses, planting numerous evergreen shrubs including a collection of hollies. Capel Manor became a national centre for Clydesdale horse breeding and the stable block has a restored Clydesdale weather vane. After this the estate and gardens fell into some decay and, at the suggestion of eminent local horticulturist Frances Perry, it was acquired by Enfield Council in 1968 and opened as an agricultural college. The house became the Institute of Horticulture and Field Studies in 1980, later becoming Capel Manor Horticultural and Environmental Centre.
The original C17th garden has been much overlaid and extended by the College, with a series of modern demonstration gardens to the east. Around the house are mature trees, which include Scots and other ornamental pines said to be over 250 years old, Cedar and other ornamental conifers, notable yew hedges and perimeter planting with many mature trees. The lawn to the north has island shrubberies; there is a good walled garden adjacent to the house. The recent theme gardens were created by the college to trace the history of gardens and gardening, those in the east being the more mature, and have historic interest in their own right. Among the gardens are an Italianate Maze, C17th Walled Garden and Japanese Garden, as well as gardens created for the Chelsea Flower Show, Le Jardin de Vincent and a Family Friendly Garden, both medal winners. The Old Manor House Garden was opened by her Majesty the Queen in June 2010. There is a fragmentary length of wall and ha-ha built for James I around Theobalds and to the south is a small area of parkland, with Lodge and boundary walls. A new building named after the college’s patron, The Duchess of Devonshire, was opened by HRH Prince of Wales in 2000.
Capel Manor is London’s only specialist centre for land-based studies, and Capel Manor College is now a working estate where students and staff can gain ‘hands-on’ experience of all aspects of land based studies including Horticulture, Arboriculture (Tree Surgery), Garden Design, Floristry, Animal Care, Saddlery and Environmental Conservation. In 2008 Capel Manor College not only celebrated 40 years of education but also its growth from 15 students to 3500 with five centres across London.
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); Janet Rushton 'The History of Capel Manor' (1993); Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998); Arthur Mee 'The King's England: London North of the Thames except the City and Westminster' (Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 1972); Capel Manor leaflets; The Paul Drury Partnership for LB Enfield, 'Forty Hill Conservation Area Character Appraisal', 2009