diamond geezer

 Sunday, May 26, 2013

You'd expect the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority to be based in the Lee Valley. Somewhere near one of their major venues, like the Ice Centre, the Athletics Centre or the Olympic white water course. But no, instead they're based beside a river that doesn't have a valley, a couple of miles to the west. That river is the New River, an artificial channel which celebrates its 400th anniversary this year. And their HQ is at Myddelton House, which I'm now going to try to persuade you to visit.

If I tell you Myddelton House is in Bulls Cross, that may not help. If I say the nearest station is Turkey Street, that may not help either. Instead think a couple of miles north of Enfield, almost but not quite at the M25. One of Henry VIII's royal palaces used to be nearby, on the other side of the Turkey Brook, and Myddelton House is built on the site of his bowling green. Appropriate, then, that the name of its first owner was Henry Bowles. He was a map maker from the City of London, and moved out to the edge of Middlesex 200 years ago. The house was named Myddelton House in honour of Sir Hugh Myddelton, chief engineer of the New River, which originally ran around the edge of the property. A few generations later, in 1865, a child was born who was to transform Myddelton House into something special. His name was Edward Bowles, a self-taught horticulturist who spent most of his waking hours planting and grafting in the garden. He wrote books on the subject, he had numerous plants named after him, he rose high in the RHS, and even he became known as The Crocus King.

The gardens have had a less dignified history since Edward's death, but the decline was arrested when the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority moved in. In particular a half million pound Heritage lottery grant has been used to great effect to restore the site, and there was a grand reopening a couple of years back. The Duchess of Cornwall turned up, as did her former husband Andrew Parker Bowles - he's Edward's great nephew, and the chairman of the E. A. Bowles Society. Now you can take a look round for free, and you should, because it's lovely.



What you can't do is look round the house, that's full of LVRPA types and their desks and filing cabinets. Thankfully they've opened a Visitors Centre in an old building with a clocktower, with an extension that conveniently blocks out sight of the car park behind. Part of the carriage shed has been turned into a museum, very small but sufficient to tell the tale with clarity. See Edward's spade, and his books, and the two lead ostriches which used to stand guard beside the Wisteria Bridge. Alongside is the tea room, with a particularly good selection of cakes and pastries I thought. If you pick up a Lea Valley Regional Park map from the display by the shop there's a voucher inside which allows you 2 hot drinks for the price of one (but only if used before 11am on a Monday or Tuesday morning, so that's virtually useless).

It's the gardens you should be here for, and they're glorious at the moment. It may not have been the warmest of Mays, but late blossom now mixes with spring flowers and lush foliage. The bluebells are out, adding depth to the undergrowth, while verdant leaves unfurl from every bed. I loved the rock garden, which was EA's first creation, where some flower I can't name rises tall on vertical stalks sheathed in gossamer fibre. Elsewhere there's a sharp box hedge, and a bank of hostas, and a pergola garden containing Enfield's Market Cross. Edward rescued this from the town centre as it was about to be discarded, and now it has pride of place amid a sea of blooms. Another monument nearby commemorates William of Orange and George III, the latter inexplicably dated 29th February 1789 (seriously, eighty-nine?!?).



One of the main foci is EA's pond, stocked with big fish who gape up to the surface if you hurl a cupful of food onto the surface. There are various benches around the perimeter, ideal for a sit down, as many of the expected age group of visitors will want to do. The other water feature Edward would have recognised - the New River - no longer flows past the Tulip Terrace. His segment was an abandoned meander, and a decision was made in the 1960s to fill it in using spoil from the newly-tunnelled Victoria line. Now a curving lawn follows the original path, with only the two footbridges at either end retained as garden features. One of these is the aforementioned Wisteria Bridge, which ought to be festooned with blue flowers at the moment, except that Myddelton House seems to have the only wisteria in Enfield not currently in bloom.

There are some lovely paths to follow, nothing too rigid, nothing too formal. The kitchen garden contains bright white glasshouses and six chickens. In the alpine meadow on the edge of the site you may spot a cluster of beehives. Each area of the garden is labelled and explained in excellent detail on boards around the site so that even a horticultural inadequate can follow. But you'll probably get more out of the visit if you're the sort of person who likes to point at borders and say "Oh, I've got one of those" or "Ooh, that would look lovely next to my pelargoniums". That's Myddelton House Gardens, open daily from 9.30am on the far northern edge of the capital.

(Before you come rushing, be aware that there are two other house/garden attractions within half a mile, and you should probably think of adding at least one of these to your itinerary. I added both. More tomorrow)


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Sun 4 December (8am-10pm)
Tower Bridge fully closed
For one day only, cross the river by free passenger ferry!

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv