A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2, General; Ashford, East Bedfont With Hatton, Feltham, Hampton With Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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The Domesday Survey affords conclusive evidence of the widespread and considerable character of the woods of Middlesex in the eleventh century, up to the very gates of the city of London. Woodland was of such great value that it was always entered on the survey of a manor. It was not only an invaluable material for building purposes and a necessity as fuel, but the acorns and beech-mast were of the greatest worth for the sustenance of the pigs. In some counties the Domesday Commissioners endeavoured to estimate the extent of the wood in each manor by means of measurement, but more often, as in the case of Middlesex, by the number of swine that the wood would support in the time of pannage or autumn feeding. Such returns can, after all, only supply quite a rough estimate as to the extent of a wood, for its pannage value would depend on the nature and density of the trees. Occasionally in other counties there is entry of a silva infructuosa, by which is meant a wood where timber other than oak or beech prevailed, such, say, as ash, which would be useless as far as swine were concerned. The swine-supporting properties of the majority of the Middlesex manors were, however, sufficiently large to betoken a most unusual amount of woodland throughout this small county as compared with the large majority of such divisions. The following list of all the manors that had pannage woods, coupled with the size of the herds of swine they could support, is of interest as showing the distribution of the woods of Middlesex:-
It therefore follows that the woods in Middlesex at this date provided autumn feeding for a vast herd of upwards of 20,000 swine.
On four manors mention is made of wood sufficient for hedging purposes (nemus ad sepes faciendas), namely Harlesden, Cranford, St. Pancras, and part of Ossulstone. At Enfield mention is made of a park belonging to Geoffrey de Mandeville, and at Ruislip there was a park for wild game (ferarum silvaticarum).
Throughout the Domesday Survey vineyards are mentioned in thirty-eight places; six of these occur in Middlesex, namely at Kensington, Holborn, Staines, Kempton, Colham, and Harmondsworth.
In the often-cited account of 'the most noble city of London,' written in the reign of Henry II by William Fitz Stephen, a monk of Canterbury, occurs the following passage: 'On the north side, too, are fields for pasture, and a delightful plain of meadow-land, interspersed with flowing streams, on which stand mills whose clack is very pleasing to the ear. Close by lies an immense forest, in which are densely wooded thickets, the coverts of game, red and fallow deer, boars and wild bulls.' (fn. 1)
A blunder in statement, as well as in date, made by Stow in his Survey of London as first printed in 1598, and repeated in all subsequent editions, has led many a writer on Middlesex and London astray. Stow's statement is to the effect that: 'The 2d. of King Henry III the forest in Middlesex and the warren of Staines were disafforested; since the which time the suburbs about London hath been also mightily increased with buildings.' (fn. 2)
There is, on the contrary, no proof whatever of there ever having been a royal forest in Middlesex, at all events in Norman days. The crown lands were very small, and two of the great wooded districts of the county, Enfield with its park, and Harrow, were in the respective hands of Geoffrey de Mandeville and the archbishop of Canterbury.
There was, however, a royal warren extant as early as the reign of Henry II at Staines, (fn. 3) to which certain forest rights pertained; it extended from Staines to Hounslow. (fn. 4) On 28 March, 1227, a charter was granted to the prior and brethren of St. John of Jerusalem, permitting them to have unlawed dogs to guard their house in Hamtonet, which was within the king's warren of Staines-wherein the sisters of the order dwelt-and also to have unlawed dogs to guard their sheepfolds at the same place, and this without any interference from the foresters or warreners of Staines. (fn. 5) Close letters to this effect were dispatched on 10 April. (fn. 6)
The value, however, of such a grant was but of short duration, for on 18 August of the same year the king granted a charter, addressed to all the men of Middlesex, to the effect that the warren of Staines was to be no more a warren (dewarrenata), and was to be disafforested so that all men might cultivate their lands and inclose their woods therein, without let or hindrance as to vert or venison, etc., from any warrener, forester or justice of the forest. (fn. 7) It was clearly some misreading of this charter that led Stow astray, and hence caused a crop of subsequent errors.
With regard to the warren of mediaeval England, it is well to recollect that the public had a right to hunt wild animals in any uninclosed lands outside forest limits, unless such right had been restricted by some special royal charter or grant. The word warren was used to denote both the exclusive right of hunting and taking certain wild animals, and also the land over which such right existed. Grants of free warren over lands or manors outside forests were frequently made by our earlier kings to private individuals and to religious foundations. Such a grant prevented anyone entering on such lands to hunt or take any warrenable animal without the owner's licence, under the very heavy penalty of £10. No one might, therefore, follow the hunt of hare, fox, or other vermin into warrenable land; but, strange to say, following the hunt of deer into such land was held to be no trespass, inasmuch as deer were not beasts of the warren. The beasts of the warren included the hare, rabbit, and fox, and in the fourteenth century (in certain parts) the roe deer; there were also birds of the warren, including pheasants, partridges, woodcocks, and herons. Lords of warren had the power of impounding dogs as well as the snares and traps of trespassers. Royalty had other warrens, apart from forests, in addition to that of Staines, such as the warren of Ashdown, Sussex. It was only in royal warrens that the lawing or mutilating of the forefeet of dogs obtained. (fn. 8)
There can scarcely have been timber of any size at Staines in the middle of the thirteenth century, for Henry III, in 1262, gave oaks out of Windsor Forest for the repair of the bridge at Staines. (fn. 9)
It was at Enfield, in the north-east of the county, bordering on the Essex forest of Waltham, that the woodland of Middlesex chiefly prevailed for several centuries. A park at Enfield is mentioned, as we have seen, as early as the eleventh century; and there is a record in 1220 of Henry III obtaining oak shingles from this park to roof certain of the royal houses at Westminster. (fn. 10) Immediately to the north of the town lay an extensive tract of land termed Enfield Chase, which included portions of the adjoining parishes of Edmonton, Hadley, and South Mimms. It extended about 8½ miles from east to west, and from 3¼ to 6 miles in width.
A chase was, like a forest, uninclosed, and only defined by metes and bounds; but it could be held by a subject. Offences committed therein were, as a rule, punishable by the common law and not by forest jurisdiction.
In certain ways the chase of Enfield resembled Cranborne Chase (Wiltshire and Dorset), so celebrated in the west of England. Cranborne had its outer and inner bounds, and in like manner there was at Enfield the ancient Great Park (sometimes called le Frith), whilst spreading out from it to the north-east and west was the much larger outer park (parcus extrinsecus). In 1324, when Enfield was forfeited to the crown, Edward II ordered Richard Pounz, keeper of Enfield Park, to permit the prior of St. John of Jerusalem at Clerkenwell to take five bucks between Midsummer and Michaelmas, and five does between Michaelmas and Lent, yearly, with archers or dogs at his pleasure, in the outer park, in accordance with the ancient grant of William de Mandeville, earl of Essex. At the same time it was stated that this park had always been held to be a member of the manor of Enfield. (fn. 11)
The name 'chase' (as applied to Enfield) first occurs, so far as we are aware, in any public record, on the Close Rolls of 1326, when Richard Pounz, keeper of Enfield Park, petitioned the king and council, stating that Humphrey de Bohun, late earl of Essex, had granted to him for life the custody of the park and chase of his manor of Enfield, receiving yearly 15 quarters of rye and 30s. for wages for himself and his six men keeping the park, but that since the manor was taken into the king's hands on the forfeiture of the earl he had received the rye, but not money. (fn. 12)
There are a few entries relative to Enfield Chase among the Domestic State Papers of the reign of Henry VIII. The privy purse expenses of September, 1530, include the payment of 30s. to the ranger and two keepers of 'Endefelde Chace.' (fn. 13) The dockets of warrants for the king's signature of the year 1535 contain one to the keepers of Waltham Forest and Enfield Chase for killing a stag and six bucks for the emperor's ambassador. (fn. 14)
An elaborate 'Decree for the Comoners of Enfielde chace' was set forth by the crown in 1542. It is stated in the preamble that the decree was called forth by constant complaints not only against his grace's keepers and the chase tenants, but also against the borderers, as to the waste and destruction of the woods and the deer, as well as divers other trespasses and wrongs by them committed. The king, therefore, commanded the earl of Southampton, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, with certain of the council of the duchy, to view the wood and game, and to report as to the complaints. The result of the report was the drawing up of a series of ordinances arranged under thirty-two heads. The following is an abstract of the more important orders. The tenants to have pannage for swine from Michaelmas to Martinmas; hogs on the chase to be ringed or pegged under a pain of 12d., half to go to the king and half to the informer; no hogs in the fence month; all hogs and swine to bear the owner's as well as the king's mark; borderers' swine to enter a quarter of a mile and no further; and no keepers to keep swine, and no foreigner's swine to enter. The master of the game, the ranger, and the bailiffs to have their feewood as before; no man to sell any of the chase wood to any foreigner or to London; no tenant or inhabitant to cut any manner of wood for his own use save that assigned him by the woodward; no 'coates and hogsties' to be allowed in the chase, and such as there are to be pulled down; horned beasts of two years old and upwards to be marked by the woodward; and foreigners' beasts found in the chase to be pounded until fine fixed by the steward is paid. The last order but one prohibits any wood-gatherer carrying into the chase any 'bill hooke, hatchett, axe, or any other edge toole whatsoever,' under pain of 12d. The final order sets the unusually heavy penalty of 3s. 4d. on any such 'as gather greene boughes to sell to London oute of any parte of the chace.' (fn. 15)
There are also some brief references to the chase during Elizabeth's long reign. In 1575 John Turnpenny and William Killingworth were committed to ward for hunting in Her Majesty's chase of Enfield, but were released on the finding of sureties. (fn. 16) In November, 1600, a note was taken of all the deer served by warrant or otherwise out of Enfield Chase, in the west, east, and south bailiwicks; from the recent audit held at Allhallowtide, 1590-1600, the total number was forty-five bucks and eighteen does. (fn. 17)
The timber of the chase is mentioned in a curious petition, presented about 1585 to the queen from John Taylor, asking licence to export 400 tuns of beer annually for twelve years free of custom. The petitioner pleaded that he had served her and her father beyond the seas in the wars, and had received no recompense save thirty loads of wood from Enfield Chase, value 30s. (fn. 18)
Norden, writing of Enfield Chase in 1596, says: 'a solitary desert, yet stocked with not less than 3,000 deere.' (fn. 19)
During the reign of James I the notices of this royal chase are more frequent. In April, 1603, a report was made to Secretary Cecil as to an assembling of women at White Webbs, on Enfield Chase, to maintain a right that the wood of the chase should not be carried out of Enfield, but burnt in the king's house there, or else given to the poor. (fn. 20) In July, 1608, a warrant was issued to pay John West, keeper of the West Baily walk in Enfield Chase, £30 per annum for provision of hay for the deer; (fn. 21) this large amount shows that there was every intention to maintain a considerable stock of fallow deer. In 1611 the king gave assurance under his sign manual in reply to a remonstrance of the knights and gentlemen of Hertfordshire, that he would not disgrace his chase by inclosing any more land; but an agreement was entered into between the king's commissioners and the tenants of the chase for the inclosing of 120 acres. (fn. 22)
A warrant for payment of £200 to Sir Robert Wroth and Sir John Brett was signed in November, 1612, to distribute among such tenants as pretended to a right in the waste lands of Enfield Chase, which had been taken in to enlarge Theobalds Park. (fn. 23)
William Graves, of East Barnet, entered into an obligation in August, 1616, under pain of £20, to be true and faithful to the keeping of the king's game and venery in His Majesty's chase of Enfield, co. Middlesex. (fn. 24) In the following year Sir Nicholas Salter, woodward of the chase, was ordered to deliver trees, with tops and branches, for repairs within the chase. (fn. 25)
There was much disorder on the chase during the Commonwealth period, particularly in regard to the killing and snaring of the deer and destruction of the timber. The Council of State wrote to the Earl of Salisbury in June, 1649, to the effect that there could be no better way to repress such disorders than by proceeding against rioters by common law. The chiefest persons were known, and if they were indicted, heavily fined, and the fine speedily levied, they would not, perhaps, hereafter desire venison at so dear a rate. The earl was ordered to proceed against all known offenders at the next sessions or assizes. (fn. 26) In the following November the council had to deal with the embezzling of timber trees marked out on Enfield Chase for Admiralty use. (fn. 27) A report was presented in 1654 to the effect that there was destruction of wood in Enfield Chase to the value of £2,000; the best trees were being felled and the wood sold at very low rates. (fn. 28)
On 30 August, 1654, an ordinance was passed for the immediate sale of a third of Enfield Chase, for ready money. From the proceeds of this sale, and of other forest lands in Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire, the arrears of payments to various officers and soldiers were to be liquidated. (fn. 29)
A survey made in 1650 showed that the chase had an extent of 7,904 acres, and its value was £4,742 8s. per annum. The deer, whose numbers had greatly diminished during the civil strife, were valued at £150; the oak timber, exclusive of 2,500 trees marked for the Navy, at £2,100; and the hornbeam and other wood at £12,000. (fn. 30)
In the same year as the survey the chase was sold in lots, with the result that a considerable amount was speedily inclosed and houses built thereon. This excited much wrath amongst many of the commoners, resulting in riots attended by destruction of fences and buildings. The riots were eventually suppressed in 1659, by a considerable military force. (fn. 31)
After the Restoration the chase was re-established, much planting done, and deer reintroduced. Among the Court Rolls at the Public Record Office (fn. 32) is a large bundle of rolls and papers relative to the manor of Enfield, extending from 1653 to 1716.
As soon as the Restoration was accomplished, the crown received numerous applications for the office of keeper of the different walks of the chase. Captain Thomas Pott was appointed keeper of Westbury walk in August, 1660, (fn. 33) and in October Captain William Barker obtained the like office in the South Baily Walk. (fn. 34) Samuel Norris, keeper of the East Walk, petitioned for continuance for life in his place, to which he had been ordained twenty-four years ago, having served the crown for thirty years, but had been turned out by the usurper, and was then disturbed by Mr. Hall, who pretended a patent from His Majesty. Norris eventually gained his request, and Hall's appointment was revoked. (fn. 35)
Charles Lord Gerard was appointed ranger and chief keeper of the chase and park of Enfield in 1660, inasmuch as the Earl of Salisbury, the late holder of those offices, forfeited the same by the destruction of the wood and deer, and by suffering the buildings to go to decay. (fn. 36)
Not long after the Restoration, the tenants and inhabitants of the manor of Enfield petitioned for leave to bring in a bill to Parliament to inclose their common fields, raising a tax of 20s. an acre for a fund to set the poor to work; they alleged that 200 or 300 poor families removed thither and built cottages on the chase during the troubles, and were gaining a livelihood by destroying and selling the wood. (fn. 37)
An effort was made in January, 1662, to restock the chase with deer. A warrant was issued to the 'Masters of the Buck Hounds and of the Toils' to take such deer from the parks of the Earl of Essex, Mrs. Sadler, Mr. Butler, and Sir Henry Blunt as they shall direct, and convey them to Enfield Chase or elsewhere as ordered by Lord Gerard. (fn. 38)
At the court leet of 11 June, 1679, there were several presentments for vert offences on the chase. William Sherwood of South Mimms was fined 20s. for cutting and carrying away bushes and furze out of Enfield Chase at several times; two other offenders were fined 6s. 8d. each for cutting and carrying away underwood; two others, 3s. 4d. each; and William Ducke 5s. for carrying off young trees.
The records of a court baron of 1689 are exceptionally interesting as supplying a customary of the chases. The jury presented that the tenants and inhabitants of Enfield, among other things, claimed to find an able person to drive the chase for taking up strays thereupon after warning given by the woodward and bailiff of the manor; also the right to take bushes in the chase to fence their grounds within the parish, by appointment with the woodward, at the price of 8d. a load; also the right to take bushes, stakes, and heather, without appointment with the woodward or keeper of the chase, for the fences bordering on the chase, without paying anything for the same.
The jury further presented that the tenants of the manor from time out of mind had all trees standing and adjoining so near their grounds that a horse and a pack could not go between; that the copyholders had sufficient timber allowed them for repairing their houses out of the chase if they had none within their own ground; that the copyholders and all lawful commoners had clay, gravel, and fern for their necessary uses; that the tenants, time out of mind, received a load of the wood on St. George's Day, being the view day, for their pains, which the keepers felled yearly on the chase for the browse of the deer; also so much of the browse wood as should be necessary for their fuel at the old accustomed price of 8d.; also decayed and 'doted' trees at 2s. the load; also rotten wood, crabs, acorns, and the roots of felled trees for necessary fuel without payment; and that the commoners might turn out what cattle they thought fit, without stint, on the chase. Moreover timber had to be provided from the chase for public bridges and for rails within the manor. The tenants by custom received annually from the steward a buck and a doe in their respective seasons. Another interesting custom was that all tenants were permitted to plant trees for the safeguarding of their houses, and that they and their heirs were entitled to the lop of such trees as they had planted.
The largest oak then standing on the chase was felled in 1766; the bole measured 30 ft. long and contained about three tons of timber; the diameter of the butt end was 3 ft. The price was only £10.
Reverting to the more general consideration of the wooded parks of the county, Sexton's map of 1575 shows two parks and the chase of Enfield, as well as the parks of 'Mariburne' (Marylebone) and Hyde. Norden's survey of the county, 1596, is full of praise of the noble and well-timbered parks of Middlesex, and enumerates ten that belonged to Her Majesty, namely St. James's, Hyde, Marylebone, Hunsworth, 'Hemton,' Hampton Court (2), Enfield (2), and Twickenham; the last, however, of these had been recently disparked. (fn. 39)
With regard to the two parks of Enfield, the one was the ancient Great Park or Frith, the parcus intrinsecus from which the outer bounds of the chase radiated. The survey of 1650, the results of which so far as the chase was concerned have already been cited, gave the area of the park as 553 acres, 74 of which were in the parish of Edmonton; the oaks numbered 1,246, exclusive of 397 marked for the Navy; and the hornbeam and other trees 508. The other was the new or Little Park adjoining Enfield House (taken out of the chase), which was conveyed to the Crown by the Earl of Rutland. It was here that the children of Henry VIII, Edward and Elizabeth, long resided. This park, of 375 acres, was sold by Charles I in 1641 to the Earl of Pembroke. (fn. 40)
Hyde Park, which was cultivated ground known as the manor of Eia at the time of the Domesday Survey, was in the hands of subjects from the days of the Conqueror to those of Henry VIII. The latter king in 1532 effected an exchange of lands with the abbot and convent of Westminster, whereby the monks secured the early dissolved priory lands of Poughley, Berkshire, in exchange for about 100 acres in Westminster which were formed into St. James's Park. In 1536 Henry VIII gave the abbey the lands of the priory of Hurley, Berkshire, in exchange for the manors of Eyebury, Eabury or Ebury (which included the part afterwards known as Hyde Park), Neyte, and Toddington. There is no doubt that the king wanted these manors, so closely adjacent to his palace of Westminster, for hunting purposes. The manor of Hyde was speedily inclosed and made a park, with sufficiently high fences to restrain the deer with which it was stocked. (fn. 41)
The transference to the king of the 'sayte, sayle, circuyte, and procyncte of the manor of Hyde' is recited at length in an Act passed for the purpose of assuring to the crown this manor and the other adjacent property of the abbey of Westminster. (fn. 42) Hyde Park was then of much greater extent, for it included the portion taken to add to Kensington Gardens, as well as a good deal of land now built over at Hyde Park Corner; it comprised about 620 acres instead of the 361 acres of the present day. Special keepers were speedily assigned to it; payments made to two keepers of 'Hide Park,' named Edward Free and George Roper, occur in the King's Accounts of 1544. (fn. 43) The two keepers occupied separate lodges, the one on the site of Apsley House, and the other in the centre of the park in a building long known as the Old Lodge, which was pulled down when the Serpentine was formed. (fn. 44)
The park was used as a hunting-ground in the reigns of Edward VI, Mary, Elizabeth, and James I. In June, 1550, the boy king here entertained a special embassy from France, who had crossed the seas to obtain the ratification of the treaty ceding Boulogne for 400,000 crowns. A letter from the lords of the council to the English ambassador at Paris says, 'Upon Tuesday the king's Majesty had them on hunting in Hyde Park, and that night they supped with his Highness in the Privy Chamber.' (fn. 45)
Queen Elizabeth was also ready to entertain her guests, after like fashion, with sport in Hyde Park. The Talbot Papers, in a letter from Gilbert Talbot to the Earl of Shrewsbury in February, 1578, record the entertainment offered to Count Casimir, son of the Elector Palatine:-
My Lord of Leicester also hath given him dyvers other thynges, as geldynges, hawks and hounds, crosse-bowes, &c. . . . for he delyghteth greatly in huntynge and can chouse his wynter deere very well. He kylled a barren doe with his pece this other daye in Hyde Parke from amongst ccc other deere. (fn. 46)
In 1553 Roger was succeeded in the keepership by Francis Nevell, who held it singlehanded for twenty-one years. His actual fee was only 4d. a day, but the patent of appointment secured for him pasture rights for twelve cows, one bull, and six oxen, together with certain other profits accruing to the office. In 1574 Queen Elizabeth appointed Henry Carey, first Lord Hunsdon, an associate keeper with Nevell; he was to receive the like sum of 4d. a day and all the herbage, pannage, and browsewood for the deer. At the death of Nevell he was to be sole keeper at 8d. a day. During Nevell's keepership, namely, in 1570, forty acres of land on the Knightsbridge side were added to the park and railed in, the grass therein being reserved to be mown for hay for the deer in winter. Nevell died before Lord Hunsdon, and when the latter died, in 1596, he was succeeded by his fourth son, Sir Edward Carey, in the office of keeper of Hyde Park at 8d. a day and without any associate. The chief lodge and mansion, with the herbage and pannage attached to it, was reserved for his mother, the Lady Anne Hunsdon. Sir Edward Carey was succeeded in the keepership in 1607 by Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury. Cecil had a colleague assigned him in 1610 in Sir Walter Cope, with benefit of survivorship. Sir Walter Cope, Master of the Wards and Chamberlain to the Exchequer, was a considerable landowner in Kensington; he built the centre portion and turrets of Holland House. On Lord Salisbury's death in 1612, Sir Walter surrendered the keepership of Hyde Park in favour of his son-in-law, Sir Henry Rich, who was subsequently created Earl of Holland, and beheaded by the Parliament in 1649. (fn. 47)
The accounts of the Board of Works for 1582 contain the entry of a payment when the Duke of Anjou and his court were in England, 'for making of two new standings in Marybone (Regent's Park) and Hyde Park, for the Queen's Majesty and the noblemen of France to see the hunting.' (fn. 48) Norden, writing in 1596, alludes to the 'princely stands' that he noted in Hyde Park. (fn. 49)
The deer of this park were well-maintained during the reign of James I. In a 1607 list of nine royal parks, out of each of which four bucks were to be taken, the parks of Hyde, Enfield Chase, Richmond, and Hampton are included. A letter of the king in the following year states that he was pleased to bestow upon the ambassadors of France, Spain, Venice, and the States of the Low Countries, certain bucks for their sport during the time of his absence on progress, and to permit them to come to the parks (Hyde Park being one) and kill a brace of bucks with hounds or bow if they should think fit. At the same time James gave directions for the bestowing of a brace of bucks on the farmers of the Customs and the tellers of the Exchequer; to find this supply a brace each were to be taken, inter alia, from the parks of Hyde and Enfield Chase, and from the Little Park of Enfield. (fn. 50)
A distribution of fat venison, made by order of Charles I in 1639 to the foreign ambassadors, included three bucks to the French ambassador, one of which came from Hyde Park. (fn. 51)
In the reign of James I Westminster Palace was supplied with water from springs in Hyde Park; a grant was made by the king in 1617 to the Earl of Suffolk of liberty to have a small pipe for the conveyance of water to Suffolk House inserted in the main pipe from Hyde Park to Westminster Palace. (fn. 52)
In the same year the crown granted to one Hector Johnson, for service to the Electress Palatine, a lease of the waste ground called Hay Hill, near Hyde Park, and of another plot near Hyde Park Corner, with power to build thereon. (fn. 53)
In 1619 the park was the scene of a serious poaching affray, when two or three poachers were caught shooting the deer at night. They were executed at Hyde Park Gate; even a poor labourer who had been hired to hold their dogs for 16d. shared their fate. (fn. 54)
The deer of Marylebone Park suffered much from great rains in the winter of 1624-5; on 12 January a warrant was issued to the keepers of Hyde Park to cause three brace of bucks to be taken and conveyed to Marylebone on that account. At the same time another warrant was served on the master of the toils to cause the toils (nets) to be sent to Hyde Park for that service. (fn. 55)
Londoners may be thankful to Charles I for the initiation of one great boon, namely, the opening of Hyde Park as a pleasure ground to the public, an act of grace which was not extorted by any pressure. The exact date of this concession is not known, but it was certainly before 1635. On 23 April of that year two Leicestershire gentlemen, John Prettyman and John Havers, agreed to run a match with their horses for £100 each, between the hours of 9 and 10 in the forenoon. They were to start 'at the upper lodge and to run the usual way from thence over the lower bridge unto the ending place at the Park Gate.' The words 'usual way' show that races were at this date common on this course. A comedy produced in 1637 by James Shirley, under the title 'Hyde Park,' has a race as the principal incident. The author states that this play was written at the suggestion of Henry, Earl of Holland, the keeper, and that he had been 'made happy by his smile when it was presented after a long silence upon first opening of the park.' From this play it is obvious that considerable crowds gathered at this period to see the horse-racing and other sports in the park. One of the episodes is a foot-race. A milkmaid goes round amongst the people crying 'Milk of a red cow,' whilst the more fashionable company partake of syllabub laced with sack. Other parts of the play show the rural character of much of the park; birds are singing 'on every tree,' whilst the nightingale and the cuckoo obtain particular mention. (fn. 56)
Charles I took special care of the Hyde Park deer; he revoked the various warrants of his father granting water from the springs to particular inhabitants and for the general use of the city of Westminster, by writ of King's Bench, on complaint of the keepers that the ponds were so drained that there was not water enough for the deer, notwithstanding that the inhabitants stated by petition that they knew the ponds to be full. (fn. 57)
At the beginning of the Civil War, when fortune appeared to be favouring the Royalists, London was alarmed, and in March, 1643, Parliament ordered that the City and its immediate suburbs should be surrounded by a great earthen rampart, with bastions and redoubts. The work was begun with much energy in the following May, and included a large square fort, with four bastions, on the site of the present, Hamilton Place, Piccadilly, which was at that date within the extreme limits of the park on that side. (fn. 58) The fort at Hyde Park Corner stood for four years; it was demolished in 1647, by order of Parliament, as there was no further dread of attack. A guard was also established in 1643 at the north-east corner of the park, to keep a close watch on all those taking the Oxford Road, and several important arrests were made within its precincts.
The park suffered much from the excitement of the times. The House of Commons ordered in 1643
that the officers and soldiers at the courts of guard be required not to permit any to cut down trees or wood in Hyde Park, and not to suffer any such persons as go out to the works to cut wood in the park, or to bring any from thence but by warrant from the committee appointed for that ordinance. (fn. 59)
The committee referred to in this order was one recently appointed
in regard of the extraordinary want of fuel, to see to the cutting down of the underwood within sixty miles of London in the king's and queen's parks, as well as in those belonging to any bishops, prebendaries, deans or chapters, and to distribute the same among the poor. (fn. 60)
In 1645, when Puritanism was at its height, orders were given
that Hyde Park and Spring Gardens should be kept shut, and no person allowed to go into any of those places on the Lord's day, fast and thanksgiving days, and hereof those that have the keeping of the said places are to take notice and see this order obeyed, as they will answer to the contrary at their uttermost peril. (fn. 61)
Several events of importance occurred within the precincts of Hyde Park during the Commonwealth strife. On 6 August, 1647, the Parliamentary forces under Fairfax, between whom and the Common Council of London there had been serious ill feeling, which was now allayed, marched three deep into Westminster on their way to the City with laurel branches in their hats; and in Hyde Park they were formally received and welcomed by the lord mayor and aldermen on horseback. (fn. 62) In December of the following year, Lord Essex and Colonel Lambert encamped with their forces in this park; and it was here also that Cromwell, on 9 May, 1649, reviewed his regiment of Ironsides, together with Fairfax's regiment of horse, and made his memorable appeal to the Levellers. (fn. 63)
A great military pageant was held in the park on 31 May, 1650, to celebrate the return of Oliver Cromwell from the terrible wars in Ireland. The Protector was met on Hounslow Heath by members of Parliament and officers of the army, and as he passed through Hyde Park on his way to Whitehall, the great guns fired salutes, and Colonel Backstead's regiment fired a volley. (fn. 64)
Soon after the execution of Charles I, Hyde Park was seized by the state as part of the crown lands. A survey was taken in 1652, when the park's area was declared to be 620 acres of the annual value of £894 13s. 8d., and the timber was valued at the great sum of £4,779 19s. 6d., and the deer at £300. The park was divided into lots and sold to various purchasers, producing the sum of £17,068 6s. 8d., including the deer and the timber; (fn. 65) and to this sum the wood and underwood (fn. 66) contributed £5,099 19s. 6d.
But although much of the park was now in private hands, it continued to be frequented. In the year following the sale, Evelyn wrote in his diary, under 11 April: 'I went to take the air in Hyde Park, where every coach was made to pay a shilling, and horse sixpence, by the sordid fellow who had purchased it of the State, as they were called.' (fn. 67)
The park was by no means all gloom under the Commonwealth. A letter-writer of the time states that on May-day, 1654:
Great resorts came to Hyde Park, many hundreds of coaches and gallants in attire, but most shameful powder'd hair men, and painted and spotted women. Some men played with a silver ball and some took other recreation. But his Highness the Lord Protector was not hither, nor any of the Lords of the Council, but were busy about the great affairs of the Commonwealth. (fn. 68)
The Protector, however, was present on that May-day, and appeared keenly to enjoy the sports, as we learn from another source. In company with many of his Privy Council he watched a great hurling match by fifty Cornish gentlemen against fifty others. 'The ball they played withal was silver, and designed for that party which did win the goal.' (fn. 69)
Later in the same year, namely on 29 September, Cromwell went into Hyde Park to enjoy a small picnic dinner under the trees with Secretary Thurloe, and attended by a few servants. Afterwards he desired to try a fine new team of six grey horses which the Earl of Oldenburg had lately sent him. Cromwell drove with success for some time, but using the whip too freely, he lost control of the team, which plunging threw him off the box on to the pole, 'dragging him by the foot for some time so that a pistol went off in his pocket to the amazement of men.' As a result of this accident, he was let blood and confined to his house for several days. (fn. 70)
The Protector's life was subsequently again endangered in Hyde Park from a very different cause. During the trial of Miles Sindercombe for shooting at Cromwell at Shepherd's Bush in February, 1656, it was deposed by one of his accomplices that
They [the conspirators] went out several times for the purpose of shooting him, and having received notice from one of the Troope of his Highness's Lifeguards that he would be in the Park on a certain day, they went thither heavily armed, and that the hinges of the Park gate were filed in in order to facilitate their escape. . . . That when his Highness rode into the Park he alighted and speaking to Cecill asked whose horse that was he rode upon, Sindercombe being then outside the Park ; that Cecill was then ready to have done it, but doubted the fleetness of his horse, he having a cold. (fn. 71)
Another incident of a very different kind that happened in the park during the Commonwealth is recorded by Evelyn, after a very terse fashion, as occurring on 20 May, 1658. He says: 'I went to a coach race in Hyde Park, and collationed in Spring Garden.' (fn. 72)
In April, 1660, some six weeks before the recall of Charles II, towards which General Monk was so assiduously scheming, a great review of the trained bands and their auxiliaries was held in Hyde Park, when a force of about 20,000 men marched past a 'spacious fabric' in the centre of the Park, wherein the lord mayor, the court of aldermen, and the Commissioners for the Militia were seated in state. (fn. 73) On May-day the park was crowded with a gay throng in anticipation of the coming return of the monarchy, and on 29 May occurred the triumphant entry of the long-banished king. Ere the year closed Charles II held a review in Hyde Park of 20,000 of the re-modelled trained bands and of 800 cavalry. (fn. 74)
The references to the gaiety of Hyde Park during the reign of Charles II, particularly on May-day, by the diarists Evelyn and Pepys are far too numerous for citation.
It must not, however, be supposed that the fashionable folk of the time were in the habit of taking the air throughout the whole or any considerable part of the park. There was an inner circle in the centre of its northern half known as the 'Ring,' round which it was the custom to ride and drive. Sometimes this circle was known as the 'Tour,' a term cited by Pepys. The origin of this Ring is unknown, but it has been conjectured that it was a remnant of the gardens attached to the old Banqueting House. (fn. 75)
Hyde Park, at the Restoration, was included among the resumed crown lands. It was replenished with deer and surrounded with a brick wall in the place of the former pales. This wall stood until 1726, when a new and higher wall, 8 ft. on the outside, was erected. Iron railings were first introduced in 1828. (fn. 76)
In June, 1660, Charles II granted the custody of Hyde Park to his youngest brother, the Duke of Gloucester, at a salary of 8d. a day, (fn. 77) but he died of the small pox within a few months of his appointment, and in September Colonel John Hamilton, who gave his name to Hamilton Place, was appointed in his stead. (fn. 77)
The purchaser of the Kensington division of the Park, at the sale of 1652, was one John Tracey, who gave £3,906 7s. 6d. for the lot, including the timber. In September, 1660, Tracey petitioned the crown, begging to be allowed to retain two houses which he had built on the road at Knightsbridge to save him from ruin. He stated that he had been for thirty-eight years a merchant in the United Provinces, and returning in 1652, ignorant of affairs, was induced to buy part of the crown lands in Hyde Park, but he had not cut down the timber and had never been engaged in hostilities. (fn. 78) In 1662 Charles II consented to dispark certain portions of the park, at the Kensington end, in favour of Solicitor-general Finch. (fn. 79)
In April, 1664, a grant was made by the crown to James Hamilton, park ranger, and to John Birch, auditor of excise, of 55 acres of land on the borders of Hyde Park, to be planted with apple trees for apples or cider, reserving a right of way from Westminster to Kensington, on condition of their inclosing and planting the ground at their own expense, paying a rental of £5, and giving half the apples or the cider for the use of the king's household. The apples were to consist chiefly of golden pippins and redstreaks. (fn. 80)
The custom of charging for the admission of coaches and horsemen to Hyde Park, introduced during the Commonwealth, was continued to a large extent when the park was resumed by the crown. James Hamilton, the ranger, was ordered, in April, 1664, to water the passage from the gate to where the coaches resorted in the park, to avoid the annoyance of dust, the expense to be borne by a charge of 6d. on each coach; at the same time he was instructed to prevent all horses entering the park save such as have gentlemen or livery servants on them. (fn. 81)
Many particulars might be given as to the use of Hyde Park during the centuries following the Restoration, such as military reviews, royal birthday celebrations, robberies, duels, or executions-but such details can readily be found in various well-known works on London.
A number of deer remained in the park until the year 1831; but they never roamed at large throughout the park after the Restoration, being penned off in a large inclosure in the north-west corner, termed Buckdean Hill or the Deer Paddock. The last known occasion of royal sport in the park occurred on 9 September, 1768, as recorded in The Public Advertiser of 12 September:-
Same day, their Serene Highnesses the two Princes of Saxe Gotha, and many other Foreigners of Distinction, together with a great number of our own Nobility and Gentry, attended the Diversion of Deer Shooting in Hyde Park, which continued all the Evening until Dark, when one was at last killed, after being shot at ten Times. What rendered it so difficult to kill him was the Hardship of getting him from among the Deer; and no other was allowed to be shot but this one: Several wagers were won and lost upon this Occasion.
There is one great feature of Hyde Park which ought not to be passed over in silence, for it has added so materially to its beauties and to the enjoyment of its frequenters for nearly two centuries; we allude to the great piece of water known as the Serpentine. Queen Caroline, in 1730, conceived the idea of improving the appearance of both Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, by draining the various pools and by increasing the volume of the little stream of Westbourne-which came down from Hampstead and flowed sluggishly through the park to the Thames, and widening it into a lake of some forty acres. This lake was named the Serpentine, or the Serpentine River; its outline has been considerably straightened from time to time since its first formation. The operations then conducted were officially termed the 'laying the Six Ponds in Hyde Park into one.' Mr. Rutton's recent diligence (fn. 82) has brought to light full details as to cost and nature of this undertaking. A highly interesting feature was the care taken in the transplanting of trees, as shown by the following items:-
For grubbing up in several places and drawing up upon the hill out of the way of the water line 105 large Oaks, Elms, and Willows at 4d. each, £21.
For grubbing up several small Oaks in the Grove, £3 10s.
For 900 Cube yards of Earth dug and carted to the south side of the Ponds to fill up a line for the planting of 20 large Elms at 9d. per yard, £33 15s.
For the charge of taking up the said 20 Elms, with large balls, and carrying them from the several parts to the place of planting, in doing of which and setting each was used generally 18 horses and 60 men making up large stools to place them in, and making up the pans several times after they were broke down by the carts and horses, at £2 10s. per tree, £50.
For Watering Cart to water the trees at 5s. a day, and for a Labourer attending the same at 20d. a day for 152 days between the beginning of April and the 20th day of November, 1731, £50 13s. 4d.
For charges about the 20 large Elms new planted, viz., to Joseph Banister for a new sledge for drawing the trees, and repairing it, £3 4s.; William Watkins for smiths work in mending and repairing the Chains, 28s.; Henry Skene, carpenter, for Oak Boxes for the trees and Deals and in taking 'em up, £35 3s. 8d. And to Mark Collberd for Ropes, Wax, Pitch, Tallow, Oakham, Straw, &c., used about the Trees, and for Hayseed to sow the Slopes, £8 19s. 7d. In all as by Bills and Receipts, £48 15s. 3d.
The total expenditure incurred in making the Serpentine amounted to £4,755 19s. 7d.
Five years later it was found necessary to strengthen the dam at Knightsbridge, and to improve the outlet of the water, the total cost of which amounted to £2,606 13s. Rennie's bridge across the Serpentine was erected at a great cost (said in a letter to the Times to be £100,000) in 1826. Eight years after the building of the bridge, namely in 1834, occurred the change in the source from which the water was drawn. The old brook of Westbourne had become befouled with sewage, and brought much filth into the Serpentine; the stream was therefore turned into a large culvert and since that date the water has been supplied from a changing and complex system of waterworks.
The Round Pond of Kensington Gardens was first supplied with water in 1728. (fn. 83)
ST. JAMES'S PARK
The origin of St. James's Park, in 1532, has already been stated. Henry VIII stocked it with deer, and their numbers were well maintained throughout the century. A foreign visitor in 1598 wrote of St. James's Park: 'In this park is great plenty of deer.' (fn. 84) It is generally stated that Charles II added 36 acres, gained by purchase, to its area: but it is more correct to call this addition, which ran up into Piccadilly, the Green Park, though at first styled 'Upper St. James's Park.' This small park was inclosed with a brick wall in 1667. (fn. 85)
The deer of St. James's Park disappeared about the beginning of the Commonwealth trouble, but in 1652 when Hyde Park was sold, the House of Commons ordered that 'James's Park' should be spared and restocked with deer from the parks of Hampton and Bushey. (fn. 86)
Evelyn, writing in 1665, says that he noted in St. James's Park 'deer of several countries, white spotted like leopards, antelopes, an elk, red deer, roebucks and staggs.' (fn. 87) In Kip's view of St. James's, taken in 1714, deer are shown in a park beyond the Mall.
The present area of St. James's Park is 93 acres, and of the Green Park 52¾ acres.
The origin of Kensington Gardens, with the present area of 274½ acres, has given rise to much dispute and to a multiplicity of erroneous statements. The fact is, as has already been stated, that Charles II in 1662 disparked certain parts of Hyde Park at the Kensington end, in favour of Secretary Finch, who afterwards became earl of Nottingham. William III, however, bought back Nottingham House with its extensive grounds in 1689, making it his favourite London residence. Hence it became known as Kensington Palace.
The difficulties as to the story of the founding of Kensington Gardens have recently been much simplified by the researches of Mr. Rutton. (fn. 88) He points out that the area of Hyde Park apportioned to be sold in 1652 was 621.83 acres, but the acreage to-day (including the Serpentine) is 368.44. The park has therefore only lost 253.39 acres, and as its boundaries north, east, and south are nearly the same as formerly, the loss must necessarily therefore have chiefly occurred on the western or Kensington side. As at the sale of 1652 the Kensington portion (the largest of the five divisions) comprised 177.36 acres, Mr. Rutton, from his study of accounts and particulars at the Record Office, concludes that Queen Anne caused about 100 acres to be appropriated from the park for the Palace Gardens, and that George I was responsible for annexing most of the remainder, which could not have exceeded 150 acres. (fn. 89) Queen Caroline's own contributory work to Kensington Gardens seems to have been confined to the completion of the work left unfinished by George I, though she has been credited by Lysons and Faulkner with having filched some 200 or 300 acres from Hyde Park.
It was probably, however, Queen Caroline who caused the stately Broad Walk to be laid out, in its final form, as a gravelled road, 60 ft. wide, between four rows of elms; but as Mr. Rutton points out, (fn. 90) Queen Anne seems to have been its originator.
The elm is more especially the tree of Kensington Gardens than of any other of our London Parks; at least ninety per cent. of the Kensington trees being of that species. It has been said that several of the giant elms of Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park are 350 years old. But the best judges are sceptical as to this; it is probable that very few of even the most carefully tended English elms attain to an age of more than two centuries. The elm is an essentially dangerous tree, both on account of its liability to be blown over through the roots spreading over the surface of the soil (instead of penetrating deeply like the oak), and because of the great brittleness of the wood, which causes the occasional sudden falling of large boughs. A young woman lost her life in Kensington Gardens in 1906 through the latter cause. Hence a very careful survey of the timber was made, and a large number of the veteran elms were pollarded during the winter of 1906-7. (fn. 91)
MARYLEBONE OR REGENT'S PARK
In 1541, when Henry VIII was busily engaged in extending his hunting grounds in the immediate vicinity of London, he acquired divers lands belonging to the prebendal manor of Rugmere for the enlarging of 'Marybone Park in the county of Middlesex,' in lieu of which land the king secured the parsonage of Throwley, Kent, to the prebendary and his successors by a private Act of Parliament of that year. (fn. 92) In 1544 the king secured further lands in the same district, exchanging the manor of Tyburn for other property with Thomas Hobson. The district of Marylebone or Tyburn used to be well-wooded, and included a considerable park. (fn. 93)
Queen Mary in 1554 gave orders for the five or six hundred acres which formed Marylebone Park to be disparked; but this order must have been revoked or disregarded, for it was certainly used as a hunting ground by Queen Elizabeth. (fn. 94) In 1582 an entry in the accounts of the Board of Works records a payment 'for making of two new standings in Marybone and Hyde Park for the Queens Majesty and the noblemen of France to see the hunting.' (fn. 95) This was on the occasion of the visit to England of the duke of Anjou, Elizabeth's suitor, with a considerable train of the French nobility. During the winter of 1600-1 Marylebone Park provided good sport for the ambassador from Russia and other Muscovites; they rode to 'Marybone Park' and there hunted at their pleasure. (fn. 96)
When James I, in 1611, granted the manor of Marylebone to Mr. Forset the park was reserved. It continued in the possession of the crown until 1646, when it was granted to Sir George Strode and John Wandsford as security for a debt of £2,318 11s. 9d. incurred in providing ammunition and other military stores for the Royalists. It was sold by the Commonwealth for £13,215, including £130 for the deer (of which there were 124 of all sorts) and £1,779 for timber, exclusive of 2,976 trees which were reserved for the navy. The park must therefore have been magnificently wooded in its prime. At the Restoration Strode and Wansford were reinstated and held the park until the debt was paid. No attempt, however, was made to form it again into a single park, or to restock it with deer. Various crown leases fell in during the Regency, and the old lands of Marylebone Park began to be laid out in 1812 on an elaborate scale by Mr. Nash, and have henceforth been known by the name of Regent's Park. (fn. 97) Regent's Park, with Primrose Hill, covers an area of 274½ acres.
At the dissolution of the monasteries Henry VIII founded the brieflived bishopric of Westminster, assigning the county of Middlesex to it for a diocese, and bestowing on it a part of the lands of the dissolved abbey, of which the manor and advowson of Hampstead formed part. At this time there is evidence that a considerable part of the woods of Hampstead as well as of Highgate and Hornsey were in full vigour, and harboured game other than deer. A proclamation was issued by Henry VIII shortly before his death, that
noe person interrupt the King's game of hare, partridge, pheasant and heron preserved in and about his house at his palace of Westminster for his own disport and pastime; that is to saye, from his said palace of Westminster to St. Gyles in the Fields, and from thence to Islington to or Lady of the Oke, to Highgate, to Hornsey Parke, to Hamsted Heath, and from thence to his said palace of Westminster to be preserved and kept for his owne disport, pleasure and recreation. (fn. 98)
The woods of Hampstead continued to flourish during the reigns of Edward VI and his two sisters, reaching on the east to the village now known as Kentish Town, and spreading on the west by Belsize and past the Adelaide road to St. John's Wood. With King James Hampstead was a favourite hunting ground; the plateau on the West Heath, known as King's Hill, is said to be the place whence that king was wont to see the hounds throw off. (fn. 99)
The district of St. John's Wood was so called after its former possessors, the English priors of St. John of Jerusalem, who had their head quarters at Clerkenwell. These woodlands were originally known as Great St. John's Wood, to distinguish them from a Little St. John's Wood at Highbury. (fn. 100)
The Order of Hospitallers or Knights of St. John was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1540. Great St. John's Wood was then for a time entrusted to the keepership of John Conway. Certain papers among the Forest Accounts at the Public Record Office for 1541-2 show that the wood had been well maintained by the priory authorities, and that large quantities of timber and underwood were immediately sold when it came into the hands of the crown:-
Accont of John Conway Esq (fn. 101) late keeper of the same Woode Aswell of and for all suche woodes and underwoodes there by hym solde By the vertue of ij severall warrauntes beneth specified to hym in that bihalf directed Anno Regni Regis Hen. 8 328 and also for certeyne lodes of wood in the same yere delyued forthe of the said wood to the kinges Ma ies use, as of all and all manor of paymts costes and expences by the foresaid John Conway had made paid and employed the foresaid xxxiid yere in and about the making carryage and fensyng. And also for the making of new gates wthin the said wood As hereafter pertyclarly within the same accompt more playnely aperithe
50 lodes of polewood and talwood to the Earl of Sussex by warrant of 14 July @ 2/2 a lode 108/4
298 lodes of underwood called bushe baven (fn. 102) sold to divers persons @ 14d. a lode under warrant of 19 July £17 7s. 8d.
50 lodes of like bushe baven sold to Geffrey P'st of Westminster by warrant above at 13¾d. a lode lesse in the holl 2½d. 57s. 6d.
Of £30 2s. 4d. comyng and rysinge of and for the price of 278 lodes of pole wood and talwood fallen and cut downe within the saide wood not receyved for that the said 278 lodes were delyured forthe of the said wood to the keper of the palice of Westmynster, to the kinges Heignes use as the foresaid John Conway sayethe.
Sum of the lodes sold 398 of the money £25 8s.
Talwood 50 6d. and Baven 348
At the foot of the account Conway desired to be allowed £9 4s. 8d. for the making up all this wood into 554 loads at 4d. a load; stating that he also found additional 722 loads 'made and there lying before the dissoluetion of the said late priorye.' He further asked payment of £11 11s. 8d. for the carriage of 278 loads of wood to the palace of Westminster at 10d. a load; £2 18s. 11d. for making and fencing 527 perches of new hedge in and about the said wood for the protection of the 'sprynge' (fn. 103) there; 7s. for repairing and making of three gates in the fence of the wood; and £3 in the name of his fee for the keeping of the wood for a year and a half.
The various warrants to John Conway, authorizing sales to Lady Sussex and others during his time of keepership, are also extant. (fn. 104)
In June, 1542, Sir Henry Knyvett, gentleman of the Privy Chamber, was appointed keeper of the wood 'called Seynt Johns Woode beside the parish of St. Giles in the Feilds near London.' (fn. 105)
Sad as has been the loss of woods and timber owing to the waves of population that have swept over so much of this district, it is permissible to rejoice not only in the preservation of the heath itself, and many a clump of ancient elms or blossoming chestnuts, but also in the fact that there has been of late years such a judicious expenditure on tree-planting by local authorities in roads and elsewhere. As long ago as 1888 the following trees, mostly of new planting, were under the care of the then vestry authorities: 987 limes, 557 planes, 285 elms, 161 sycamores, 155 chestnuts, 66 poplars, 27 ash trees, 16 wych-elms, 4 beech trees, and from one to three specimens of ailantus, acacia, maple, oak, willow and birch, a solitary pear-tree, a yew tree, and a mountain ash; making a total of 2,273 trees. (fn. 106) Since that date, the amount of public planting has proceeded apace under the County Council.
Parliament Hill and Fields, consisting of 267¼ acres, adjoin Hampstead Heath, and are now included in that great open space; they were acquired for the public in 1889.
Waterlow Park, 26 acres, on the southern slope of Highgate Hill, was presented to the council for use as a public park by Sir Sydney Waterlow in 1889. The park is rugged in contour, and well timbered with old cedars and various forest trees.
At Highgate there is still a tract of pleasant woodland, termed Highgate Woods, extending over about 150 acres, and divided into two parts by the Muswell Hill road. The eastern portion, of about 55 acres, which used to be known as Churchyard Bottom Wood, was opened to the public by the Duchess of Albany in 1898, and renamed Queen's Wood. Down the steep side of the hill leading to the Lea valley there are dense thickets of hazel and other underwood, whilst small poplars, ashes, alders, and hornbeams rise in places above the tangle. The western half, 96 acres in extent, known as Gravel Pit Wood, was presented in 1886 by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to the Common Council of the City of London for the use of the public. The trees are larger than in the other section, and include a curious avenue of pollarded hornbeams.
The grounds in the centre of Lincoln's Inn Fields were secured by the London County Council in 1894 for the sum of £12,000. They are well wooded, and possess some unusually fine plane trees.
Clissold Park, Stoke Newington, 54½ acres, was acquired for the public from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners at a cost of over £90,000; it was opened in 1889. It contains a wealth of well-arranged trees, both ancient and modern. There is also a small deer inclosure.
Finsbury Park, 115 acres, which was opened to the public in 1869, lies on the south-east side of the parish of Hornsey. It is well-wooded in parts, and includes a portion of the site of old Hornsey Wood. Hornsey Wood was within the ancient deer park of Hornsey that belonged to the bishops of London.
One of the latest additions to London's parks, acquired by the County Council, is Springfield Park, Clapton, 32½ acres, which was purchased in 1904 for £37,237. The ground is very finely timbered, and overlooks the River Lea.
Wormwood (formerly Wormholt) Scrubbs, in the north-west suburbs of London, is a common of 193 acres, purchased by the War Office and transferred to the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1879, reserving a certain part for military purposes when required. A belt of trees now marks the division between the military ground and that to which the public have the exclusive right. Its former bare appearance has of late years been greatly improved by the planting of many hundreds of trees.
Ravenscourt Park, 32½ acres, at the western end of Hammersmith, was acquired for the public in 1887; its principal feature is a noble avenue of stately elms.
The grounds of Fulham Palace first became famous in the time of Bishop Grindal (1559-70), who was a great gardener. According to Fuller, the tamarisk was brought into this country by the bishop about 1560:-
It was brought over by Bishop Grindal out of Switzerland (where be was in exile under Queen Mary) and planted in his garden at Fulham, where the scite being moist and fenny well complied with the nature of this plant, which since is removed and thriveth well in many other places yet it groweth not up to be timber, as in Arabia, though often to that substance that cups of great size are made thereof. (fn. 107)
To Bishop Aylmer belongs the discredit of destroying a great number of elms in the Fulham grounds. It is stated by Aubrey that 'the bishop of London did cutt downe a noble crowd of trees at Fulham. The Lord Chancellor told him that he was a good expounder of darke places.' (fn. 108) An information was laid against him for cutting down timber that belonged to the see, and he was restrained from doing so by order of the council; the information was laid by one Litchfield, a court musician, whom the bishop had annoyed by refusing to give him twenty timber trees. Strype, however, defends the bishop against the charge of any considerable felling of the elms about the palace. There seems to have been a certain amount of clearing after a visit from Elizabeth, as the queen complained that her lodgings there were kept from all good prospects by the thickness of the trees. (fn. 109)
The grounds of Fulham attained to great and deserved celebrity in the days of Bishop Compton, (1675-1713); there was probably at that period no other place in England where so much attention was paid to arboriculture. Evelyn in his diary, under date 11 October, 1681, writes: 'I went to Fulham to visit the Bishop of London in whose garden I saw the Sedum arborescens in flower, which was exceedingly beautiful.' (fn. 110) Compton took infinite pains to obtain hardy exotic trees from North America; he was the first to introduce American maples, acacias, magnolias, hickories, and other trees into English gardens and plantations. Ray, the distinguished naturalist, visited the Fulham grounds in 1687, and set forth a long Latin list of tulip trees and other rarities which were then flourishing. (fn. 111)
Compton's successor, Bishop Robinson (1713-23), did not share his tastes, and to his disgrace permitted his gardener to make merchandise of whatever trees and shrubs would bear transplanting. (fn. 112) Fortunately, however, many of the earlier planted trees were far too well rooted to be removed. In 1751 that great botanist, Sir William Watson, visited Fulham, and reported to the Royal Society on the remnants of Bishop Compton's work. A catalogue of the exotic trees then remaining was drawn up, which included the silver fir, the Norway maple, the cedar of Lebanon, the Virginia cedar, the red horse-chestnut, the Virginia sumach, the arbutus, and a variety of flowering maples and evergreen oaks; many of them were considered to be the largest of their kind then growing in Europe. (fn. 113)
Daniel Lysons made another careful survey of the trees in the Fulham grounds in 1793, when he found eleven trees that had been planted by Bishop Compton still flourishing. An ash-leaf maple, planted in 1688, to the west of the house, had a girth of 6 ft. 4 in., and a height of 45 ft.; the black walnut tree on the east lawn, 'a most magnificent tree,' had a girth of 11 ft. 2 in., and a height of 70 ft.; the cluster pine, in the nuns' walk, 10 ft. girth, and 80 ft. height; and the cork tree on the south lawn, 10 ft. 10 in. girth, and 45 ft. height. The other trees were two three-thorned acacias, an ilex, a white oak, a scarlet-flowered maple, an upright cypress, and a Virginia red cedar. Lysons also noted a cedar planted in 1683, and an avenue of limes near the porter's lodge, which were probably planted by Compton about 1688. (fn. 114)
Most of the veterans mentioned in the lists of Watson and Lysons have disappeared. The white oak perished in a gale in 1877; and a large part of the black walnut was blown down in 1881. Bishops Blomfield, Tait, and Jackson all took much interest in the grounds, and planted a variety of exotic trees. In Mr. Feret's pages there is a full account of the more recent plantings, and of the present condition of the older and larger trees. The trees with the greatest girth at a height of 3 ft. from the ground are a common elm, 19 ft. 8 in.; a black walnut, 17 ft. 3 in.; a plane tree, 16 ft. 10 in.; and a beech, 13 ft. 10 in. All that now exists of the trees of Compton's planting appear to be the battered remnants of the cork tree in the angle where the Tait chapel joins the south block, and of the black walnut on the lawn at the east front of the palace. (fn. 115) In the Warren, the name of a large grazing field to the north of the palace, are several fine old elm and walnut trees. Bishop Porteus (1787-1809) described the Warren as 'surrounded by a magnificent belt of lofty elms.' The palace grounds have been considerably curtailed by the formation of a small public park on the river side. The idea of giving this strip of land to the public was carried out by Bishop Temple, but it originated with his predecessor.
Leaving the suburbs of London, some attention must be paid to the parks in other parts of Middlesex. The most important of these is Hampton Court, with the adjunct of Bushey Park. In early days Hampton was an open tract forming part of the famous Hounslow Heath. Some of the thorns in Bushey Park, and a few of the magnificent old oaks in the Home Park, were probably remnants of the district in its original state. In the thirteenth century the manor of Hampton Court was purchased by the Knights Hospitallers. Cardinal Wolsey obtained a ninety-nine years' lease of it from the Order, at a rental of £50, in 1514. On the fall of Wolsey in 1530, Hampton Court was taken possession of by Henry VIII, and speedily became one of his favourite residences. Here he was able to indulge to the full in his passionate attachment to hunting, hawking, shooting, and other outdoor sports. On coming into possession Henry found his property consisted of two main divisions, that now called Bushey Park, and the Home Park, which were separated by the Kingston Road. The king or Wolsey partly inclosed these parks by brick walls. These inclosures, though affording every facility for shooting and coursing, were not of sufficient size to serve for deer hunting. Thereupon the king proceeded to acquire by purchase or exchange all the manors adjacent to Hampton Court, on both sides of the Thames, and by an Act of Parliament of 1539 united them into an honour, that is a seigneury of several manors held under one baron or lord paramount, and 'the King shall have therein a chase and free chase and warren, for all beasts of venery and fowls of warren which shall be called Hampton Court Chase.' (fn. 116) This new chase of Hampton lay on the Surrey side of the river, and included East and West Moulsey, Walton, Esher, Weybridge, and part of Cobham. It was inclosed within a high wooden fence, and well supplied with deer. On the accession of Edward VI local complaints of damage by the deer came to a head, the pales and deer were removed, and the shortlived chase came to an end.
A Commonwealth survey of Hampton, in 1652, shows that by that time the Home Park had been divided into two parts, known respectively as the House Park and Hampton Court Course, which were distinct from the part now known as Bushey Park, then divided into the Hare Warren, the Middle Park and Bushey Park. The grounds and parks were much appreciated by Oliver Cromwell. Soon after the Restoration Charles II not only put the gardens into thorough order, but laid out the Home Park in its present form, planting the great avenues of lime trees that radiated from the centre of the east front of the palace. William and Mary effected many changes in the planting of this park. (fn. 117)
Bushey Park has an area of 994 acres, exclusive of the stud paddocks of an additional hundred acres. These paddocks are divided from the park proper by a brick wall, but are in reality a part of Bushey Park; they are under the separate management of the 'Master of the Horse.' The herd of fallow deer has been recently much reduced, and now numbers about four hundred and fifty. In 1900 part of the Bushey herd was transferred to the Home Park, the average number there being about one hundred and fifty. The red deer of Bushey Park have averaged forty-five for the last few years. (fn. 118) Bushey Park has much noble timber, but is chiefly celebrated for its splendid avenue of chestnuts, which is 56 yds. wide, and a mile and 40 yds. long. The Home Park has an area of 752 acres, and is splendidly timbered in parts, many of the trees being fine specimens of limes.
The only other parks in Middlesex where deer are now to be found, besides those of Bushey and Hampton Court, and a few in the inclosure of Clissold Park, are Victoria Park and Grovelands, Southgate. In Victoria Park is a small herd of from eight to a dozen fallow deer, introduced in 1893 or 1894. (fn. 119) Southgate takes its name from having been the southern entrance to Enfield Chase. Grovelands is the seat of Mr. J. V. Taylor; the well-planted park is 150 acres, whilst the park and adjoining woods are together 310 acres. The number of fallow deer is now about one hundred, nearly fifty were lost in the winter of 1905-6. They are not really an old herd, being the progeny of a pair given to Mr. Taylor's grandfather in 1840. There are many very finely grown oaks; including several that have girths, 3 ft. from the ground, varying from 15 ft. 10 in. to 14 ft. 7 in. One of them has a spread of branches of 105 ft. A remarkable feature of the woods on this estate is the fact that the common heather or ling grows luxuriantly, though never seen elsewhere in the neighbourhood; this seems to point to the land being part of the old waste. (fn. 120)
The largest oak in this district, known as the Minchenden oak, is at Arno's Grove, Southgate. It is said to have the widest spread of branches of any English oak. This oak, then termed the Chandos oak, is figured in Strutt's Sylvia, and also in Loudon's Arboretum. The latter gives the branch-spread as having a diameter of 118 ft., and the girth, one foot from the ground, as 18 ft. 3 in. (fn. 121)
Broomfield House, Southgate, was an old hunting-lodge used by James I; it is surrounded by park-like grounds of 80 acres.
At Enfield, opposite the parish church, are the remains of old Enfield House. In the grounds the fine historic cedar tree, one of the first planted in England, is still standing. It was planted by Dr. Robert Uvedale, a celebrated botanist, who was master of the Enfield Grammar School in the time of Charles II.
White Webbs Park, of about three hundred acres, on the borders of Hertfordshire, is beautiful and well-wooded, and retains traces of the ancient chase. Forty Hall has another park of about the like area, which contains many old forest trees, and is also part of the former extensive chase. Trent Park, on the western border of Enfield parish, is a third great tract of the ancient chase, preserved by being inclosed. It was given by George III to his favourite physician, Sir Richard Jebb. The park, which is undulating and well-wooded in parts, covers an area of about one thousand acres.
In the south-west of the county, near to Hampton, were the two adjacent hunting-parks of Hanworth and Kempton. The manor and park of the former were purchased by Henry VIII. Camden calls Hanworth a small royal seat; Henry made it the scene of many of his sporting pleasures. (fn. 122) Towards the end of his reign Hanworth Park was settled in dower on Queen Katherine Parr, who frequently resided there after the king's death, with her second husband, Sir Thomas Seymour, and the young Princess Elizabeth. (fn. 123) Elizabeth, as queen, visited Hanworth in 1578, and again in September, 1600, when she hunted in the park. (fn. 124) Hanworth Park at the present day consists of 207 acres, and is extensively wooded.
Kempton Park, in Sunbury parish, on the Thames, was granted by Charles I in 1631 to Sir Robert Killigrew, vice-chamberlain to the queen. The manor and park of Kempton, as well as the manor and park of Hanworth, had been granted for eighty years without rent to Sir Robert's father by Queen Elizabeth. In consideration of the expense which the petitioner had bestowed in maintaining the game in Kempton Park, he prayed for a grant in fee of the said manor and park at a rent of £18 1s. 0½d. The prayer was granted, on the expiration of Queen Elizabeth's lease, at the rental named, provided that he maintained 'the park stocked with 300 deer for his Majesty's disport.' (fn. 125) There were deer in Kempton Park up to about 1835. (fn. 126) The park comprises about 500 acres, 300 of which are now leased to the Kempton Park Race-Course Company.
Other private parks of Middlesex which are noteworthy and more or less well-timbered, are Osterley park, 500 acres; Bentley Priory, 250 acres; Wrotham Park, 286 acres; Gunnersbury Park, 100 acres; Harefield Place, 60 acres; and Ruislip Park, 40 acres. Twickenham Park was sold in lots in 1805. (fn. 127)
The Board of Agriculture in 1793 brought out a report on the agricultural condition of Middlesex. (fn. 128) Reference is made to the inclosure of Enfield Chase in 1779, and it is stated that from two to three thousand acres still remained 'unimproved.'
In regard to Enfield Chase it is to be observed that though the cottagers are much in want of small fields of inclosed land, yet so much attached are they to their idle system of keeping a few half starved cattle on the chase, often to the ruin of themselves and their families, without the smallest advantage accruing to the public, that they constantly oppose any inclosure.
In the following year a further report was put forth by the Board, edited by Peter Foot, a land surveyor, containing various additional particulars. An interesting section relative to fruit trees shows how considerable was the culture of 'peaches, nectarines, apricots, vines, apples, cherries, pears, plums, quince, medlars and filberts,' by the nurserymen round London. As to vines, the gardener of Mr. John James of Hammersmith, in 1778, made a quantity of good wine from English-grown grapes. Shortly afterwards he made wine from his well-trained vines in the proportion of 100 gallons to 100 yards of wall. Mr. Foot adds, 'I am persuaded that, from Hammersmith to Staines, vineyards might be made at little expense, if a small premium were given to adventurers and no tax laid upon them for some years.'
Mr. Foot sets out full and interesting particulars as to Enfield Chase and its inclosure. He describes the ground of the Chase as having been covered with trees; the oak found a ready sale, but the beech did not repay the woodman's labour. The grubbing up of the roots proved to be more costly than was expected. The result was that the ground, though rapidly cleared of its wood, lay for the most part in an uncultivated state for several years.
From Fulham to Staines the banks of the Thames are reported as profitably employed in the cultivation of the willow. Three distinct species are named, the Salix vitallina or yellow willow, the Salix amygdalina or almond-leaved willow, and the Salix viminalis or osier willow. The two last-named were chiefly used by basket and corn-sieve makers, and the first by nursery-men for binding packages of trees, shrubs, etc. Mr. Foot did not supply any special information as to the woodlands.
In 1797 the Board of Agriculture were responsible for the issue of a far more comprehensive work on Middlesex, based on the two earlier reports, a much extended second edition of which, consisting of a stout octavo volume of about seven hundred pages, appeared in 1807. (fn. 129) The sixth chapter deals with commons and inclosures. The great commons of that time were Hounslow Heath and Finchley Common, on the latter of which there were several thousands of pollarded oaks and hornbeams. In commenting on the common fields of Harrow and Pinner it is noted that oak and elm grew with equal health throughout the whole of this district. The elm abounded in the hedgerows, eight trees were numbered in twenty feet. As to Enfield Chase and parish there had been a further inclosure in 1803, not confined to the 1,500 acres of wasteland, but also embracing 2,746 acres of common fields, and 794 acres of marsh-land. For four years before this second inclosure the parish had annually cut down a considerable number of oaks in aid of the poor rates. The timber had been generally felled, except what Dr. Wilkinson had preserved (some 80 acres) in the neighbourhood of White Webbs.
The tenth chapter discusses 'copses, woods, plantations, hedgerows and osiers.' Mr. Middleton states that the copses and woods of Middlesex had been decreasing for ages, and expected that in a few centuries more they would be annihilated. He mentions, however, some acres thus occupied on the northern slopes of Hampstead and Highgate hills; 100 acres on the east side of Finchley Common; and 2,000 acres on the north-west side of Ruislip. The hills about Copthall and Hornsey were then appropriated to the scythe, though a few years before they were covered with wood. Mr. Middleton was by no means distressed at the disappearance of woodland, for he regarded the woods and copses of Middlesex as 'nurseries for thieves,' and also 'the occasion of many murders and robberies.' He was also strongly of opinion, emphasizing the statement by the use of italics, that 'every acre of this county ought to be appropriated to the production of more valuable crops than timber and underwood.' It was his opinion in 1807 that there was only an area in Middlesex of 3,000 acres bearing copse, plantation, or forest timber.
Just a century has elapsed since the issue of this singular report, so adverse to any form of woodland, by the then Board of Agriculture. Better opinions happily now prevail.
The attention given to arboriculture during the last quarter of a century has resulted in a gratifying and steadily growing increase in the woodlands of England and Wales. Notwithstanding the great growth of population, and, therefore, of the building area of Middlesex, it is as pleasant as it is surprising that this small county well maintains its share in this advance in proportion to its size. In Middlesex the total acreage of woods and plantations in 1888 was 2,545 acres; in 1891 it had grown to 3,036; and in 1895 to 3,656. The detailed returns made up to 5 June 1905, show a steady rise in the last decade, for the total acreage of woods was then 3,968. This total is usefully divided into coppice, 1,590 acres (by which term is meant woods cut periodically and reproducing themselves by stool shoots); plantations, 98 acres, covering lands planted or replanted within the last ten years; and other woods 2,280 acres.
Nor does this growth of 1,000 acres of pure woodlands in a century by any means exhaust the marvellous improvement effected in Middlesex in the way of tree-culture.
So far as the growth of timber, both forest and ornamental, is concerned, apart from that which is included in woodland returns, the improvement immediately round London is more marked and decided than in any other part of the kingdom. By far the greater portion of this improvement is due to the continuous and spirited action of the London County Council. Under the rule of the Council, since its first formation in 1889, the public parks and open spaces of London, all more or less welltimbered, have grown, in round numbers, from 2,500 to 5,000 acres. Of this total, 2,746¼ acres are in Middlesex. And in addition to all this there has of late years been a vast amount of tree planting and tree tending accomplished in streets and roads and by the side of the highway. For every tree standing in Middlesex in 1807 there are probably at least three in 1907.