Researching Historic Parks and Gardens

HGT's Research Group traces Hertfordshire's landscape heritage from medieval times through to the 21st Century. The work is directed by Tom Williamson, Professor of Landscape History at the University of East Anglia and the Group's desk research and site surveys are organised by the Trust's own Landscape Historian Anne Rowe.

We have carried out extensive research in three areas of the county and the results of our work can be seen in several publications and in an ever-growing collection of comprehensive reports detailing the histories of dozens of Hertfordshire's parks and gardens. Most of these reports can be seen in Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS) at County Hall, Hertford, including the following sites:

Ardeley Bury
Astwick Manor, Hatfield
Ayot House
Benington Lordship
Benington Park
Benington Parsonage
Blakesware, Wareside
Bride Hall, Ayot St Lawrence
Broadfield Hall, Cottered
Brocket Park, Hatfield
Cecil Lodge, Abbots Langley
Childwickbury, St Albans
Colegreen Park, Hertingfordbury
Danesbury, Welwyn
Fanhams Hall, Ware
Furneux Pelham Hall
Gorhambury, St Albans
Hitchin Priory
Holywell House, St Albans
Homewood, Knebworth
Kings Walden Bury
Knebworth House
Lamer, Wheathampstead
Leggatts Park, Potters Bar
Little Court, Buntingford
Mackerye End
Marshalswick, St Albans
Moor Place, Much Hadham
North Road House, Hertford
Northaw Place
Offley Place
Panshanger, Hertford
Rivers Nursery Orchard, Sawbridgeworth
Rowney Priory, Little Munden
Sacombe Park
Standon Lordship
Stanstead Bury
Temple Dinsley, Preston
Tewin House
The Hoo, Kimpton/Whitwell
The Lordship, Much Hadham
Wheathampstead House
Woolmers Park, Hertingfordbury

Currently we are researching historic parks and gardens in the Welwyn-Hatfield area and, as always, our volunteers are offered training and study days to add to their interest and enjoyment. New members are always welcome.

Having good research to draw upon is immensely important for protecting – and in some cases restoring – our historic designed landscapes. It has most recently enabled us to make an important contribution to the restoration of part of Charles Bridgeman’s early 18th-century landscape design for Tring Park. Download the full story with fascinating photographs Tring Park.

Bridgeman rond-point restored in Tring Park

On 9 April 2014 the research team and guests enjoyed a great afternoon at Tring Park at the invitation of the Woodland Trust to celebrate the restoration of the Charles Bridgeman rond-point – ceremonially completed by the planting of the final tree by Lady Verulam. A lovely pair of spotted ponies pulling a small carriage was laid on for the VIPs: the HGT President, the HGT Chairman and the Mayor of Tring.

HGT President, Lady Verulam, plants a tree at the centre of the rond-point, ably assisted by Louise and Karen from the Woodland Trust. Clearance of trees and scrub from the rond-point and from the slopes below it has restored the magnificent view.
[photographs by Jenny Milledge]

The Research Group is currently continuing its surveys of Gobions Wood at Brookmans Park. Within this lovely wood lie the earthwork remains of a famous eighteenth-century garden designed by Charles Bridgeman for Jeremy Sambrooke and laid out in the 1720s. Visited by many notable people, including Queen Caroline, the garden was one of Bridgeman’s most significant designs, and was considered by Horace Walpole to represent an important stage in the development of the ‘landscape’ style. Exciting new evidence about the layout of the garden came to light with the discovery of a plan in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. An article assessing the significance of the plan, written by Tom Williamson and Anne Rowe, was published in the journal Garden History in 2012. Here are some photographs of the Research Group hard at work in Gobions Wood on two gloriously sunny spring days in March 2012.

For more information about HGT research email: