This article by Phil Whittemore was first published by The Enfield Society in newsletter 219, Autumn 2020.
Richard Gough, the antiquary was the most eminent person to live at Gough Park, a house his father Harry had bought in 1719. It was a typical red brick Queen Anne house, comprising a top storey with four bedrooms, storerooms and landing, while the first floor had three further bedrooms, dressing room, morning room and landing, laundry room and servants quarters. On the ground floor was the drawing room, dining room/breakfast room, kitchen, pantry and servants quarters. A library, complete with a Gothic window and fireplace designed by the architect, James Essex was added in 1778-80.
Externally the house had a paved yard, wash and brew house, with a coach yard entered through folding gates, where there were stables and storage for carriages. A large garden surrounded the house, that to the west incorporated the New River, while to the north was an avenue of chestnut trees. Behind the house was an area of farmland for cows, pigs chickens and doves. The estate also had an orchard of 18 acres.
Richard Gough died in 1809; his wife Anne in 1833 when the estate was offered for sale in five lots. The house and gardens were sold to Mr Rees Price of Clay Hill for £1230, with the remaining lots sold for £1986. Two years later Price leased the house to William Child of Finsbury Place for £155 p.a. Rees Price must have sold the lease by 1844, for when a new one was made it was between the Drapers’ Company and Child’s son, also called William.
William Child is not mentioned in the 1841 census, so had presumably died, leaving his wife Mary, and other family members in residence, together with servants and an estate manager. Mary had died by 1861, when the census lists Miss Rebecca Child as being the sole family member still living in the house. She died in 1888, leaving instructions that the property be sold, therefore the lease must had been bought by the Child family from the Draper’s Company although the date is unknown.
The auction was held in July 1888 with the contents and effects of Miss Child a week later, the auctioneers were Messrs. Edwin Fox and Bousfield, of Token House Yard, London. The house and gardens formed Lot 1, while Lot 2 was six acres of pasture running parallel to Clay Hill. An annotation in the sale catalogue in the British Library has the figure £11,000 and ‘N.S.’ meaning that both lots were unsold.
The property came on the market again in 1891 following an extensive advertising campaign in The Times. It was suggested that the property could be either used as a residence, while the attached land could be used for building development, but again the property failed to find a buyer. Fifty lots of freehold land in quarter acre lots were advertised but attracted little interest.
In 1893 the property again came on the market, this time with Lumleys, Auctioneers, of St. James Street, London, with the estate being divided into 65 lots, the premier lot being the house and grounds. It was advertised as being suitable for a ‘high-class School, Institute or Private Residence,’ with the individual lots divided up into areas of 60′ by 235′, making the plots suitable for building a small house. Plans show that it was proposed to build a road through the centre of the estate, giving access to Forty Hill, with a further entrance on Clay Hill. The sale was a disaster, for not only did the house not find a buyer, only six of the individual plots were sold. There may have been a number of reasons for this. Perhaps the property market was oversubscribed, but a more plausible reason was lack of communications. Forty Hill, even in the 1890s was not readily accessible, with the nearest railway station, Turkey Street opening in 1891. Both it and Enfield Town were some distance away. The estate came on the market again in 1894, but remained unsold.
The 1891 Census does not list the property under its original name, calling it ‘Eagle House,’ and unoccupied. C.W. Whitaker, in his book A History of Enfield mentions that the house was demolished in 1899, but the Census for 1901 clearly states that the property was still standing with a caretaker, Elizabeth Sellier living on the premises.
The Child family made a further attempt at selling the house and grounds in 1900, but with no luck. It was offered for sale by Messrs. Debenham, Tewson, Farmer and Bridgewater, who were actively soliciting private enquiries. By September a draft conveyance was drawn up between A.H. Child, James Hayllar and Henry Carrington Bowles, esq. He paid £6500 for the estate together with 23 acres of land.
The date the house was demolished is not known, and a planned replacement building never built. Some of the brickwork from the site was salvaged by E.A. Bowles, the famous botanist and plantsman, and taken to Myddelton House. These included part of a pillar and some other unidentified stonework and were placed in the garden. Two lead ostriches that were originally on the roof of Gough Park overlooking the garden at the rear of the house were also taken to Myddleton House. Also two lead boars that were originally displayed on pillars at the entrance to the house, but they have since been stolen. Some original wrought ironwork forming part of the boundary wall still remains at Gough Park.
In September 1947, the then Enfield Urban District Council purchased from D.H. Parker Bowles, the area known as Gough Park allotments for £10,000. Today, the area known as Gough Park still survives as allotments. A small area of the original grounds forms a footpath between Forty Hill and Whitewebbs Park. The area has recently been refurbished (May 2017) with the installation of a flood relief channel or swale. This was thought necessary due to waterlogging issues in the surrounding area.