|Bower House and Bower Wood||Havering|
Bower House and its parkland were conceived as one, with architect Henry Flitcroft working closely with Charles Bridgeman who laid out the grounds. Situated on the hillside with commanding views, the red-brick house, then called Monthavering, was built in 1729 for Sergeant-at-Law John Baynes. The layout is little changed today, with a large walled garden, serpentine walk beyond its eastern perimeter wall, belts of trees flanking the house to east and west, and an additional approach road from the south-east terminating in a small plantation to the north. Bower House and grounds were the site of memorable occasions over the years, including royal visits. In 1959 it was purchased by the Ford Motor Company as a training school and conference centre. In 2005 it was sold to Amana Trust, a Christian educational charity, which is also working to restore the house and preserve the gardens and landscaping.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/09/2009
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Bower House, then named Monthavering, was a small country house built in 1729 for John Baynes, a Sergeant-at-Law. It is said that stones from the old palace of Havering (Havering Country Park q.v.) were used in the construction of the house, which was the first commission of architect Henry Flitcroft working in association with Charles Bridgeman, who laid out the grounds; painter Sir James Thornhill decorated the staircase with classical scenes. This is recorded by a plaque with Latin inscription in the entrance hall of the house. Willis describes Bridgeman's setting for the Bower House as 'appropriate for the tradition of the classical villa espoused by the Burlingtonians'. It is situated on a hillside commanding panoramic views, and Bridgeman may have collaborated with Flitcroft to devise the orientation of house to site. In 1771 the grounds were described as follows: 'The pleasure grounds are extensive and have several visto's affording pleasing prospects, terminated by agreeable and proper objects ... the distant outlook commands ... most delightful and extensive prospects into Kent, and into different parts of the country.' Chapman and Andre's map of 1777 shows a layout little changed from the present day, with the walled garden quartered and a serpentine walk beyond its eastern perimeter wall skirting the property, two belts of trees flanking the house to east and west, and an additional approach road from the south-east terminating in a small plantation north of the Bedfords estate. The north front of the house is shown in a topographical view of 1797 with a circular grassed forecourt, and another view of c.1830-50 shows the south front with wings (added between 1797-1816), between picturesque stands of trees and shrubs.
Bower House and its grounds were the site of memorable occasions over the years, including royal visits in 1801 by Princess Charlotte and in 1934 by Queen Mary, a military display and grand dinner during the Napoleonic wars, and another grand dinner for ‘the poor of the village’ to celebrate the passing of the 1932 Reform Bill.
Bower House was bought in 1959 by the Ford Motor Company, to provide a training school and conference centre, which was opened officially opened on 16 June 1960, the company having undertaken some restoration work to the house. In 2005 it was sold to Amana Trust, a Christian charity dedicated to distributing Christian literature and to educating people in the Christian faith. The Trust is working to restore the house, and also to preserve the gardens and landscaping. North of the house the circular grass plot, carriage circle and stable block survive adjacent to an area of asphalted car park. On the south or principal front, the house stands on a sloping grass terrace. The landscape beyond of open fields dotted with clumps of deciduous trees is little changed from that depicted in the foreground of the view of the house of 1830-50, but a cypress hedge marks the southern boundary of the present gardens. An early C20th aerial photograph shows the remains of a parterre sited between the south terrace and boundary hedge, but this has since disappeared. Belts of mature trees survive to the south-east, south-west, and north of the house. To the north-west is a rectangular pond, overgrown and naturalised, and to the north-east is the extensive site of the former walled garden, enclosed on two sides by a high C18th or C19th red brick wall. This is now grassed with a range of garage buildings constructed over the northern end. Until c.1949 this area was still in use as a kitchen garden, divided into plots with box hedges; fruit trees survive along either side of its eastern wall, and behind the north wall are the remains of former glass houses and forcing beds.
S D Pomeroy 'About Bower House'. Essex 1970; P Willis 'Charles Bridgeman and the English Landscape Garden', 1977; Victoria County History of Essex; Arthur Mee 'The King's England: London North of the Thames except the City and Westminster' (Hodder & Stoughton 1972); John Drury, 'Treasures of Havering', (Ian Henry Publications, 1998); Paul Drury Partnership for LB Havering, 'Havering Atte Bower Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Proposals', c.2006.