Heritage Open Day: Little Cassiobury House (10/09/16)

The house from which Cassiobury Park takes its name was sadly demolished in 1927. The recent restoration of the bandstand and the other improvements being made to the park as part of the Heritage Lottery fund grant have further revived interest in the estate, and it was with great interest that we visited Little Cassiobury House, the last complete 17th century remnant.


The former Dower House was built in 1670 and can be found backing on to Watford Registry Office, next to the old college. The council bought it in 1938 via a compulsory purchase order and until the early part of his century was used as Watford College offices.

A local group, the Friends of Little Cassiobury House, is aiming to restore the Grade II-listed building, estimating a £2m cost to make it viable as a public attraction.

A stand in the lobby shows the front of the house on a sunnier day! Pevsner called it ‘the best classical house in Watford’.
The building is surprisingly large (I think one of the volunteers said it had 9 bedrooms).
A side entrance, with the Registry Office to the left.
A side door showing the state of exterior disrepair.

Such is the state of disrepair that we weren’t allowed to go inside, and had to photograph from the entrance. The lobby has a fireplace with twin arches leading to room at the rear.

Lobby with fireplace.
A camera zoom down one of the corridors.
Looking right from the lobby into another dusty room.
Looking left from the lobby.
An art sale was also being set up when we visited (right).

The house’s position next to the Registry Office (and the fact that there is parking space) would suggest an opportunity to turn the building into, among other things, a great local wedding venue. After speaking to the volunteers I learned that this was indeed one of the proposals being discussed as a means of making a renovated, publicly accessible building financially viable.

You can support the project by becoming a Friend of the house (see the website below) and fundraising activities take place throughout the year.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Cassiobury Estate it’s well worth reading Cassiobury: The Ancient Seat of the Earls of Essex by Paul Rabbitts (2014).

Top fact: the original staircase from Cassiobury House (dated 1677-80) is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Cassiobury bandstand re-opens
Friends of Little Cassiobury House

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