One of the remnants of the great lost estates of the United Kingdom, Cassiobury Park is now the largest park in Hertfordshire, and the principal park of its primary town, Watford, covering an area twice the size of Hyde Park in London. But this is no ordinary town park.
In 1661, Arthur, the 2nd Baron Capel, was made the Earl of Essex and, by 1668/69, he had moved to Cassiobury permanently. By 1707, Cassiobury was a significant estate, and Charles Bridgeman was employed at Cassiobury in the 1720s. In 1800, the 5th Earl of Essex employed James Wyatt to rebuild the house. Humphry Repton was employed at Cassiobury, and the landscape was captured by J. M. W. Turner in a number of paintings. By 1881, there were many deer in the park, often traded with the royal deer parks at Richmond, Bushy and Windsor Great Park.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, large areas of the park had been sold off to Watford Borough Council for public parkland. By 1921, the lease was surrendered and, in 1927, Cassiobury House was demolished. Much of the remaining land was bought by the council becoming further parkland for the expanding Borough of Watford. This book tells the significant story of a remarkable estate, family and parkland that has never been told before.
Paul Rabbitts has over twenty years of experience in designing, managing and restoring urban parks across the UK. As a qualified Landscape Architect and current Head of Parks for a SE Local Authority, he is also a published author and regular contributor to journals and periodicals. Currently head of parks for Watford Borough Council, he is also project director for the GBP6.5 million restoration of Cassiobury Park, as well as an author on books on Regent's Park, Richmond Park, the royal parks and bandstands, on which he is acknowledged as a UK expert. He has written many books on parks and architecture. He lives in Leighton Buzzard. Sarah Kerenza Priestley is curator of Watford Museum, the largest repository for art and information on Cassiobury. With a BA Honours degree in Medieval and Modern History from the University of London, a PGCE in Secondary History from the University of Durham and an Associateship of the Museums Association, she has carried out extensive and original research into the history of the Cassiobury estate for over twelve years. Watford-born Sarah is an acknowledged and recognised expert on the subject, and was responsible for the fundraising and acquisition of A View of Cassiobury Park, by John Wootton in 2002 - the largest single purchase in Watford Museum's history.