28th April 2013

Turkey St Forty Hall Crews Hill Horses Trent Park Co'fosters Thank You Read Me

Turkey Street to Cockfosters

This was one of Martin's scenic walks and went to show what nice undulating countryside characterises London's northern outposts. It was about ten miles and followed part of the London Loop. However, as many "official" paths do, the London Loop sometimes has a habit of avoiding interesting bits very close by. Our august walk leader made every effort to rectify such official defficiencies by making skillful sidesteps and deviations from the Loop so as to extract the maximum out of our peripatetic visit. Our sidesteps took in springtime in Whitewebbs Park (a circular tour) and some of the dozen or so gardening centres in Crews Hill.

CLOGgies are descending from the obelisk into the valley of Trent Park, all the while enjoying the grand view.

Forty Hall, which exuded history at every pore was near the begining of our walk. Near the end of our walk we went through the grounds of Trent Park, which is on the doorstep of Cockfosters (northern gateway to Greater London). The walk ended at Cockfosters Station with its 1930s architecture and "UNDERGROUND" signs. A nice day - and no rain!

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Getting to Turkey Street

For an Essex man like me, it was a very early start. You see, I'm ultra stange because I don't have a car - when all about me are using theirs. So there were those friendly neighbourhood Railway Engineering Works to cope with. However, trying to make a virtue out of necessity, I took some pictures from the top of the rail-replacement bus - pictures of Essex basking in the Sunday morning sunshine. Trying to avoid unforeseeable delays, I arrived at Turkey Street a tad ahead of time, and discovered a bit of local - albeit undated - history.

It was a clear blue sky as the bus sped past the turn off to the Essex heights of Ramsden Heath.

A genteel approach to Billericay was afforded by this cedar guarding over some early Victorian houses.

Having arrived at Turkey Street (formerly Forty Hall) station a tad early, I nosed around and found, embedded in the parapet of a nearby road bridge, this reference to the weight of transport of a bygone age - horse-drawn carts and "locomotive traction engines". The old County of Middlesex is mentioned of course, but interestingly enough, the plaque is attributed to the "Clerk of the Peace". I mean, you can imagine the commotion if the bridge had collapsed under the weight of too great a load. Three questions immediately arise - even to my mind. (1) Why no date? Perhaps negligence on the part of public servants? (2) What is meant by "heavy", or is this meant to be left to the legal guys, should an appropriate case come to pass? (3) Was public money used to build such a weak bridge? Ah well, probably all water under the bridge now.

Forty Hall

Forty Hall is almost a stone's throw from Turkey Street Station, which was originally named after the said Hall. The Hall is supposed to represent a transition between the Tudor and subsequent building styles. As an amateur I would have said "William and Mary, à la Hampton Court", but there you are. The Hall was built between 1629 and 1632, probably by a Sir Nicholas Rainton, wealthy haberdasher and Lord Mayor of London. In 1951, after a varied history (Googleable stuff), the building came into the public hands of the Borough of Enfield. The borough obviously thought that visitors should not see the exhibition in the house on Sunday mornings, so indeed we left without seeing it. However, we tarried long enough to delay suitably our arrival at the target hostelry in Clay Hill. The time was appropriately absorbed by nosing around the gardens and the outside of the house.

The North East face - in shadow - welcomes us across the lake.

This close up indicates that my camera's zoom is working.

The South East face. You can check by remembering the shadow on the North East face.

The South West face with a touch of the exotic.
Yes, palms do grow on the northern outskirts of the capital.

Nice plaster work and stone work on the South East face.

Interesting old cart - shame about the light switch. This is outside the café which was open for physical refreshment. As mentioned, if you wanted the intellectual refreshment provided by the exhibition, you had to wait on tenterhooks until 1 pm.

Nice moulding over the north east door. Shame about the lead flashing - necessary but not so pretty.

Another view of the nice plaster work and stone work on the South East face.

North East face. Gy-enormous cedar in left background. Willow at a safe distance from the house to the right. Pond in front. And now it's back to the walk.

Forty Hall and The Old Gateway

But just before we go, here's backtracking to Victorian times.
This view was taken from the following book in my possession. "Greater London" by Edward Walford, 1823-1897, Published by Cassell & Co., London, 1883-84.
Frame and mount are courtesy of HTML5.

Crews Hill and Clay Hill

If you want to be spoilt for choice when you choose your garden centre, then why not make a detour to Crews Hill, where you'll find about a dozen of them, all hugging a right old busy road? Indeed, some of the traffic seems to be drawn, like a magnet, to the said gardening centres. We had the option of dining in the "The Fallow Buck" in nearby Clay Hill, but felt that the eatery provided by Brown's Gardening Centre offered more value for money.

Brown's Gardening Centre has taken an enthusiastic supplier/cultivator of Bonsai trees under its aegis. This specimen looked like a miniature edition of the gy-enormous Cedar of Lebanon in the grounds of Forty Hall. You could landscape your garden railway with Bonsai trees.

This Bonsai tells you that spring has sprung.

We had tarried awhile at Forty Hall so that we would arrive at an appropriate time at "The Fallow Buck" in Clay Hill. In the event we decided to savour the gastronomic delights at Brown's Garden Centre, reached by a trek along the busy road leading up to Crews Hill.

The church at Clay Hill has an Victorian air about it, and its tower suggests early pioneering experiments in rocket science.

Equine Interlude

As we sped our way towards Cockfosters we met a speed restriction sign of sorts and then an example of horse-powered farming. We learnt about the Suffolk Punch and how the purest members of its breed hail from the States.

This is not a notice to CLOG walkers. No. No. It does, however, indicate the growing love affair of your South East resident with horse riding, no longer viewed as an exclusive pursuit for the "upper crust", but still a costly hobby.

I don't think that these two horses do much galloping. Here we meet a pair of Suffolk Punches in the capable charge of their lady driver. The older horse, on the driver's left, is showing its younger companion what to do. The younger mare came from the States, where the purest instantiations of its breed - so their driver informed us - are to be found. Every week, we learnt, there are several "horse-class" flights hither and thither across the Big Pond. Well, what do ya know!

The farm dog seemed to be OK with the horses, but it was definitely not OK - so he thought - to stand around chatting to Cloggies. He seemed to like the sound of his own, impatient, bark.

Trent Park

The final part of our walk led through Trent Park - the gateway to Cockfosters. Trent Park was an erstwhile hunting ground of Henry VI (no, not your friendly Henry VIII this time), and belonged to Enfield Chase; it is now one of the many Country Parks (lots of vast, grassy, sometimes tree-less, open spaces) that in recent years have sprouted up like mushrooms around the country. Trent Park is lucky in that it has kept quite a bit of its old woodland. Trent Park House itself, dates back to the fourteenth century, but has seen many subsequent modifications. The name "Trent" derives from Trient/Trento in the South Tyrol. The actual reason why is Googleable knowledge. The house was used as an interrogation centre for German Officers in WWII, and was part of the Middlesex University's campus until 2012. Now it is on the market for potential residental use, its Grade II status hopefully ensuring preservation of the historical bits and removal of the flotsam and jetsam of the newer buildings - the sort of buildings that often tend to litter academic campuses. Cockfosters Station - the time honoured gateway to the south - is not too far away.

The first sign of Trent Park is this obelisk which towers above the Trent Park valley. Yes, the ground dips markedly behind the obelisk.

This large obelisk - so the inscription - celebrates the arrival of a son to the Duke and Duchess of Kent in 1702. According to the Enfield Society, "The obelisk was brought from Wrest Park (Silsoe, Bedfordshire) by Sir Philip Sassoon in 1934 in order to impress the Duke and Duchess of Kent, honeymooning at the estate. A channel was carved through the forest to afford a grand view of the monument from Trent Park House."

CLOGgies are descending from the obelisk into the valley of Trent Park, all the while enjoying the grand view.

Trent Park House nestles comfortably within Trent Park ...

... and here is a close-up of the noble pile from across the fishing lake. Sorry, I forgot to ask the anglers what they hoped to catch and whether they eat what they catch.

This was another Duke of Kent obelisk brought from Wrest Park by Sir Sassoon in 1934. He sure wanted to impress his honeymooning guests. The obelisk welcomes present day visitors to Trent Park, but I don't know how many visitors actually look at it and appreciate why it's there.

The obelisk depicts the crest of one of the Dukes of Kent. Weathering has not entirely obliterated the Royal "Honi soit qui mal y pense", which the crest still proudly sports.


Cockfosters Underground station was closeby. The station exemplifies thirties architecture and has a look-alike in Uxbridge Station, one of the other ends of the Picadilly Line, out west. Four or five large 3D versions of the thirties retro-art "UNDERGROUND" logo are proudly sprinkled on high around the outside of the station, so that travellers have no excuse for not finding their speedy connection to the heart of the Metropolis and indeed to Heathrow (on the end of the other western branch of the Picadilly Line). As of this year (2013) station and 3D logos are 80 years (4/5 of a century) old. Tempus fugit.

At Cockfosters, the "Underground" Logo ...

... and the station architecture are both from another age - the Thirties.

Thank You

Many thanks, Martin, for an interesting walk - lots of scenic and historical impressions so close to the Metropolis. A nice day was had by all and the weather was well behaved.