|West Lodge Park||Enfield|
West Lodge Park, now a hotel, was built in the 1830s on the site of one of the three keepers' lodges built c.1419 when the deer park of Enfield Chase was divided into 3 walks, each the responsibility of a keeper. West Lodge was at times the official residence of the Chief Ranger of the Chase, which was owned by the Duchy of Lancaster from 1421-1937, although it ceased to be a royal hunting park after 1777. In the C19th there were a number of private tenants who improved the house and grounds, and it became a hotel in 1924. In 1945 it was purchased by Edward Beale, whose family continue to run the hotel. Beale established a fine Arboretum in 1963, and in addition the hotel grounds contain lawns, flower gardens, parkland and woods. The lake in front of the hotel was once a fishpond for the old keeper's lodge.
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West Lodge Park, now a hotel, was built in the 1830s on the site of an earlier building on part of the royal deer park of Enfield Chase, to which the people of the parishes of Enfield, Edmonton, Mimms and Hadley also had commoners rights. 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 a deer park in c.1136-40, enclosing over 8,000 acres for the purpose. It is likely to have been stocked with deer from Old Park, the Home Park of Enfield Manor, now the site of 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. The Chase was divided into three rides or walks after 1419 in order to facilitate its maintenance and West Lodge or West Bailey Lodge was one of three lodges built to accommodate the keepers whose task was to look after each walk.
In 1421 Enfield Chase and Manor were allocated to the King as part of the Duchy of Lancaster, which remained landlord until 1937 apart from the period of the Civil War and Interregnum. Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon once stayed at West Lodge during a week's hunting on the Chase, the keepers having to cut down many trees in order to keep fires going to warm the noblemen waiting on the king's return. In 1557 Princess Elizabeth hunted hart here, arriving from Hatfield with a retinue of 12 ladies and 120 yeomen, and met at the Chase by 50 archers. James I dined with the keeper of West Lodge within a week of his arrival in London for his coronation and Charles I is known to have stayed at West Lodge when hunting on the Chase. Soon after Charles 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.
As a result West Lodge, also known as Potters Lodge, was sold for £1,494 to John Nelthrop, the adjutant general. At that time the house, which had been repaired in 1583, was a 3-storey brick and tile building with outbuildings and a small garden plot, with 85 acres of land and 662 trees valued at £131. During the Civil War and Commonwealth, the Chase’s game was destroyed, the trees cut down and the ground was let out as farms. Following the Restoration the Chase was once more restocked with deer and new trees planted. The Officers of Enfield Chase under the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster included a Master of the Game, a Forester, Ranger, Keepers, Woodward, Steward, Bailiff and Verderers. 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 1673 West Lodge was occupied by the Rt Hon. Henry Coventry (1618/9-1686), who had been made Charles II's Secretary of State in 1672 and appointed keeper of West Bailey Walk in 1673, and he undertook replanting of trees. In July 1675 he was granted all the offices of Enfield Chase to become Chief Ranger. His West Lodge gardens were admired by John Evelyn who visited him in the summer of 1676, describing it as 'a very pretty place, the house commodious, the gardens handsome, and our entertainment very free'. The three lodges of Enfield Chase were, according to Evelyn, the only habitations in the area and "pretty retreats for gentlemen, especially for those who are studious or lovers of privacy.'
Coventry resigned as Secretary of State in 1680 and retired to West Lodge in poor health. He was granted permission in 1685 to cut glades through the Chase, ostensibly to aid the king's hunting, but bringing much profit from sale of wood. A copy of a portrait of Coventry painted in 1677 by Mary Beale, who may be a distant relative of the current owners of West Lodge Park, hangs in the hotel today. Coventry died in 1686 and the office of Chief Ranger passed to Adam Viscount Lisburne, with West Bailey Walk going to Sir Rowland Gwin. In 1689 West Lodge was leased by William III to Sir Robert Howard. In 1698 a Survey was made by Hugh Westlake, Surveyor of Woods in the south part of the Duchy, in order to cut timber to create new ridings, and to create a square of 300 acres for deer to feed in. In all 261 acres of wood were to be cleared and the money raised from this sale of timber was for the King’s use.
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 and he also spent £2000 repairing West Lodge in 1720. 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, who had already taken the lease on West Lodge in 1718. His son Henry became the 2nd Duke of Chandos, taking over as Chief Ranger on his father's death in 1744; Henry's son James, the 3rd Duke of Chandos, followed him in 1771. The Dukes of Chandos did not reside at West Lodge and after the third Duke's death in 1789, his widow held the lease until 1808 after which the property was vacant and subsequently fell into disrepair. By now the Chase, having been enclosed as a result of the Enclosure Act of 1777 and subsequent Act of 1801, many of the trees had been felled, deer had disappeared, with much land turned over to farming, although it remained in the ownership of the Duchy of Lancaster.
West Lodge had a number of private tenants in the C19th. Archibald Paris leased the property from 1827-50 with a covenant to rebuild the old house. This was completed by 1835, designed in Regency style although part of the earlier building remains in the form of the 2-storey south range, probably C18th. The oak tree in front of the hotel today dates from c.1840. John White Cater, a prominent banker who became Chairman of the London and Brazilian Bank, and his family were tenants from 1850-89 and planted some of the fine trees that remain today. In the Caters' time there was a tennis court on the lawn in front of the house and the 8 acre grounds included orchards, vegetable gardens, a nut tree walk, vinery and peach house. They were followed in 1890 by Dr Alfred Mosely, a diamond merchant and philanthropist who also planted some of the surviving ornamental trees. Among these are numerous conifers including swamp and Monterey cypress, cedar of Lebanon, coast redwood and Wellingtonia. In 1916/17 Dr Mosely made West Lodge available for use as a rest home for nurses on leave from WWI. In 1921 it was leased by Mr Ernest North Lewis who converted the house into a hotel that opened in 1924, renamed West Lodge Park. The north wing was added, and around this time the double avenue of European lime trees was planted along the driveway that leads from the two Neo-classical lodges at the entrance gates, formerly an avenue of elms. Many of the hotel guests were permanent residents, particularly elderly retired people.
In 1938 the hotel was sold to Edmund Victor who kept it open during WWII. In 1945 it was acquired by Edward Beale of Beale's Ltd who lived here with his wife and son Trevor, continuing to cater largely for permanent hotel residents until 1958, after which time a change of policy began to cater for temporary guests, with new facilities provided. Edward Beale founded his Arboretum in 1963 in association with the GLC's Arboricultural Advisor Derek Honour and Frank Knight, Director of the RHS at Wisley. It was created on a 10-acre field that had previously been sublet to a farmer, the main planting taking place after 1969. It continues to be developed by Edward's son Trevor and grandson Andrew. A pinetum has recently been established and there are now has over 800 varieties, including the National Council for Propagation of Plants collections of the Elaeagnus group and native hornbeams. It retained the best of the C18th and C19th trees, such as a Killarney Strawberry Tree thought to date from 1747 and the English oak standing in what is now the front car park, which was planted in 1760 to commemorate the coronation of George III. At the top of the drive are trees planted by Lord Mayors of London and other dignitaries, a tradition which in spring 2000 saw the planting of a rare lime tree from Hupeh in China by Alderman Clive Martin.
Beale's Ltd was granted a 99 year lease in 1969, following which the hotel was expanded with new West and North Wings in 1972, and it now provides banqueting and conference facilities, as well as events such as classical concerts. The hotel grounds cover some 35 acres, including flower beds and lawns, open parkland and woods in addition to the Arboretum. Little remains of any early parkland planting but there are remnants of terraces on the lawn to the east where a pair of urns marks the short flight of steps leading to the Arboretum. In front of the hotel is a small lake, once a fish pond for the lodge, with a fine willow and the magnificent oak tree. A new addition to the grounds are the bee hives, installed spring 2011 with the help of Ron Hunter from the Enfield Beekeepers Association.
Trevor Beale 'West Lodge Park, its History Portraits & Gardens'; 'The Gardens at West Lodge Park' leaflet; Beale's Guide to the Collection; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998); Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); 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); David Pam 'The Story of Enfield Chase', Enfield Preservation Society, 1984