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Myddelton House, Bulls Cross

This article by Stephen Gilburt was first published by The Enfield Society in newsletter 183, Autumn 2011.

The Elizabethan Bowling Green House was purchased in 1724 by Michael Garnault. The house eventually passed to Anne Garnault (1771-1812) who in 1799 married the print seller and publisher, Henry Carrington Bowles (1763-1830). He had Myddelton House built of yellow Suffolk brick in 1818 to a design by George Ferry and John Wallen, and the adjoining Bowling Green House was then demolished. The house, which together with the gardens is listed Grade II, commemorates Sir Hugh Myddelton, who was responsible for the construction of the New River between 1609 and 1613.

The house passed via Bowles’ son, also Henry Carrington Bowles (1801-1852) to his nephew Henry Carrington Bowles Treacher (1830-1918), who changed his surname to Bowles. Col. Sir Henry Ferryman Bowles (1858-1943), second son of H.C.B. Bowles, lived at Forty Hall from 1895 (see newsletter 173, Spring 2009, page 4) and was Conservative MP for Enfield for 1899-1906 and 1918-1922. Edward Augustus “Gussie” Bowles (1865-1954), fourth son of H.C.B. Bowles, began to develop the gardens from about 1890 and they became internationally famous for their many rare and unusual plants. E.A. Bowles was the author of a series of books about his remarkable gardens. The connection with the Bowles family is still maintained today, and Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles OBE (great-great nephew of E.A. Bowles) is the current president of the E.A. Bowles of Myddelton House Society.

In 1954 the London School of Pharmacy bought Myddelton House, which it shared with the then Royal Free Medical School. The kitchen garden was used as a pharmacognosy garden. Myddelton House is now the headquarters of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, to which it was sold in 1968. Sections of the gardens have recently been restored, funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. They are open daily, free of charge, May to September, 9.30 am to 6.30 pm and October to April 9.30 am to 4.30 pm.

There is a new Visitor Centre, with tea room and heritage exhibition telling the compelling story of E.A. Bowles, in the 19th century stable block. (See newsletter 182 Summer 2011, page 2). “The crocus king: E.A. Bowles of Myddelton House”, by Bryan Hewitt (Rockingham Press 1997, ISBN 1-873468-47-4: £6.95 paperback) is available in the Visitor Centre. There is also an excellent audio guide and guided tours of the gardens are available for groups by arrangement. For more information telephone 08456 770 600 or visit leevalleypark.org.uk. Myddelton House has a car park for visitors and may be reached by train to Turkey Street station or by buses 217 and 317 along the A10 to Turkey Street, 5 minutes walk from the house.

Illustration 1. The east front of Myddelton as seen in 1821 (from W. Robinson’s History of Enfield) [Enfield Local Studies & Archive]
Illustration 2. E. A.Bowles [Lee Valley Regional Park Authority]
Illustration 3. An extension with bay windows on the ground and first floors was added on the north side in about 1870.
Illustration 4. A conservatory for the more tender plants was built outside the drawing room on the south front. The morning room to the right with a bay window faces south and east.
Illustration 5. The drawing room was decorated in the Greek revival style with a white marble fireplace, cornices, ceiling rose, chandelier and pelmets decorated with strapwork, garlands and cresting.
Illustration 6. E. A. Bowles’ drawing room, about 1890. [E.A.Bowles of Myddelton House Society]
Illustration 7. The ceiling of the c.1870 dining room has gothic revival strapwork based on a 15th century design.
Illustration 8. E. A. Bowles’ bedroom in the 1930s. [E.A.Bowles at Myddelton House Society]
Illustration 9. The painted stone and cast iron fireplace in E. A. Bowles’ library. [E.A.Bowles at Myddleton House Society]
Illustration 10. This listed 1832 iron bridge was constructed over a section of the New River which was bypassed in 1859 and grassed over in 1968. The lead ostriches, made by John van Nost in the 1720s, came from Gough Park, Forty Hill, which was demolished in 1899. They were recently moved to the Visitor Centre after their restoration. [Enfield Local Studies & Archive]
Illustration 11. The market cross stood in Enfield Town between 1826 and 1904 before being moved to Myddelton House rose garden. (See newsletter 182, Summer 2011, page 5)
Illustration 12. This sundial, over 300 years old, was stolen in 2005 but after re-discovery of the pedestal in 2008 it was restored in 2010 with a new dial (see newsletter 179, Autumn 2010, page 11)
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