Pishiobury Park Country Park
- Pishiobury Manor c. 1700 engraving by J Drapentier (by permission of Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, HALS/Chauncy/Vol1/P348)
In 1782 Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown is thought to have created a park in the landscape style at Pishiobury, for Jeremiah Milles, when the house was remodelled after a fire.
Capability Brown is thought to have removed some of the earlier avenues at Pishiobury, Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire and supervised the construction of the lake for Jeremiah Milles. The position of the avenues in the park, the ha-ha (sunken ditch) and some mature trees may well date to this time. However, Brown probably did not have any great involvement in carrying out the works, as he died in 1783.
The Manor of Anne Boleyn
The medieval manor on this site was sold in 1534 to Henry VIII who granted it to his Queen, Anne Boleyn. In 1585 Walter Mildmay, Chancellor of the Exchequer under Elizabeth I, built a new house called Pishiobury and by 1700 historian Sir Henry Chauncy (1632–1719) described the estate as comprising:
"A very neat and fair pile of building for the Mannor House upon a rising ground in the vale near the River Stort, which courses about 20 acres of ground on the East side of the house, lately converted into a paddock for deer, adorned in front thereof with a fair bowling green raised about 5 foot high enclosed with a brick wall topped with stone balls upon it and 2 fair walks planted with trees, each walk extending about 4 furlongs in length from the house to the road."
By 1766 the detailed map created by Dury and Andrews (view map online) shows the park laid out formally with four avenues of trees, and several rectangular enclosures around the house, and possibly kitchen gardens on the site of the present kitchen garden. It was soon after this that the house was destroyed by fire and rebuilt on the same site around 1782–84 by architect James Wyatt (1746-1813, Wikipedia), for Jeremiah Milles. This is when Capability Brown may have been called in to work on the park.
A sale plan of around 1844 shows the landscape park, enclosed to the north and west by belts of trees, and to the east by the sinuous lake. However, it still had the remains of avenue planting, particularly along the two main drives.
Pishiobury in the 20th century
The layout of the grounds remained much the same during the rest of the 19th century and into the 20th century when the estate, which had become known as Pishiobury in the mid- to late 19th century, was sold into divided ownership. Housing developments have been built in areas along the western boundary, flanking the west drive and around the kitchen gardens.
Pishiobury is now a public park and its mansion stands on a finger of high ground overlooking a serpentine lake (both private). Beyond, the River Stort forms the park boundary to the east, while the 65 acre site is bounded by a perimeter belt of trees on its other three sides.
Dury Andrews 1766 Map of Hertfordshire: www.duryandrewsmapofhertfordshire.co.uk
Hertfordshire Gardens Trust walk leaflet: www.hertsgardenstrust.org.uk/downloads/Pishiobury.pdf
Dorothy Stroud, Capability Brown, Faber & Faber, 1975 edition, page 236