The Secret Garden
Cheslyn House, Watford
1.49 pm, Friday 12 April 2019
Cheslyn House is one of Watford’s hidden gems. Formerly the home of Henry and Daisy Holbeck, Cheslyn Housen was acquired by Watford Council in 1965 and its gardens are now open to the public.
Henry was an accomplished architect and the Colbecks travelled extensively. The house was designed and built in the 1940s and 50s by Henry, and Daisy designed the gardens which included a range of unusual and exotic plants; since coming into public ownership further developments have included new features such as a pond, a rock garden, large herbaceous borders, and an aviary. The gardens cover more than 3.5 acres with formal lawns and borders in front of the house and a larger, less formal area including managed woodland at the rear.
The gardens also include a statue gifted to the town in 1962 by a local resident. It was in the town centre originally but was moved to the relative obscurity of Cheslyn Gardens to preserve the modesty of its more sensitive and prudish citizens. In this image the glory of an adjacent magnolia is evident.
The facility is a neglected asset because the house is not open to the public, and there are no refreshment facilities. The property is a bit off the beaten track and most visitors are returning to seek a degree of suburban peace, solitude, and contemplation. It’s worthy of being returned to throughout the year to observe and admire the seasonal changes.