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The following historical detail was supplied by the Isle of Wight Gardens trust, and contains references used by them.

The original property on the site of Northwood House was an 18th century house known as Bellevue. Bellevue was purchased by George Ward, a London financier, in 1793. The adjacent Debourne Farm was also purchased by Ward, in 1798, and the landscape park was developed from about 1800.

The property was known as Northwood Park by 1817 (Basford 1994). It is shown on a map in Brannon 1824, and illustrated in Brannon 1823 and 1824.

It is shown as a landscape park with ornamental clumps of trees, shelter belts and small areas of woodland on estate maps of about 1815 and about 1817 (IWCRO/WARD).

The pleasure grounds, with individual trees, cultivated gardens and orchards, are shown on the same estate maps of about 1815 and 1817. In 1844 the pleasure grounds contained ornamental trees and shrubberies linked by winding paths (Northwood Tithe Map IWCRO JER/T/229). Some of these still survive.

The property is shown as  "Park" on the OS 1866 & OS 1909 6" maps.

A walled kitchen garden with glasshouses is shown on the Northwood Tithe Map (1844). Part of northern and south-eastern wall are extant, but the site is now occupied by housing and a public open space.

A building is shown on Northwood Tithe Map (1844) in the position of the present ice house.

An early 19th century stone wall of Bembridge Limestone surrounds the landscape park (Basford 1994).

The main approach drive from the south-west corner of the park originally terminated at a forecourt in front of entrance pavilion to the house. The forecourt now has a blank wall to the south with a central arch leading to the stables - now blocked. A second approach drive from the town followed the southern and western boundaries of the pleasure grounds before joining the main approach drive (Northwood Tithe Map 1844).  A promenade leads northward from the forecourt to a flight of steps near the northern boundary of the park (Ordnance Survey (OS) 1866).

An enclosed area surrounding the house to the east and south is shown on the Northwood Tithe Map (1844). Today this area is an enclosed level platform of grass defined on the eastern and southern sides by stone revetting walls with two stone column bases at the centre of the eastern wall. Two terraced banks within enclosed area, shown on OS 1866, are still visible and a third terrace can be seen in the grass to the east of the enclosed area.

Debourne Lodge (Listed Grade II) is situated at the main entrance to the park. This dates to the early 19th century and is probably from the office of John Nash (Temple 1988). The Round House (Listed Grade II) - a circular cottage orné opposite Debourne Lodge and outside the park - was built by George Ward as a toll house and is probably also from Nash's office.

The lodge at the junction of Park Road and Union Road - constructed in the early 19th century - was by John Nash (Summerson 1935). It was demolished in 1939.

The church of St Mary (Listed Grade II*) lies adjacent to Northwood Park, a 17th century chapel extended and altered by John Nash in 1811 and 1816. The church was rebuilt in 1867 but Nash's Graeco-Egyptian tower of 1816 - built as a mausoleum for the Ward family - survives. The churchyard contains yews, false acacias and a monkey puzzle tree.

Church Lodge (Listed Grade II) is of early 19th century date, by John Nash (Summerson 1935).

An arched gateway, with gate piers and a flanking wall with the Ward crest and the date of 1841 (Listed Grade II) is now the pedestrian entrance to the park at the top of Castle Hill.

The former stable range (Listed Grade II) was partially rebuilt after a fire in the 1980s.

The house (Listed Grade II*) was rebuilt between 1837 and 1844. The interior contains much decorative detail including "Egypt Corner", a lobby containing columns with Lotus capitals, painted snake emblems and pseudo-Egyptian hieroglyphics.

The pleasure grounds were presented to Cowes Town Council by the Ward family in 1929 and have been retained as a public park, now in the care of the Isle of Wight Council.

The landscape park was redeveloped after World War II, the land being occupied by Cowes High School, Cowes Golf Club and the Crossfield housing estate. Some large trees remain.

Site timeline

1700 to 1799: Original property on site was an 18th century property known as Bellevue

1793: Bellevue was purchased by George Ward

1798: Adjacent Debourne Farm purchased by George Ward.

1799: Bellevue House was rebuilt

Features

flower bed

shelter belt

hedge

kitchen garden

Part of northern and south-eastern wall are extant, but the site is now occupied by housing and a public open space.

bowling green

terraced lawn

planted walk

shrubbery

Some of the shrubberies survive, thickly planted with Acuba, Bay, Laurustinus and other evergreens.

specimen tree

Surviving individual trees include two London Planes, a Yew, a Cedar of Lebanon, a large Holm Oak, Turkey, Cork, Holm and Mirbeck's Oaks.

tree avenue

tree belt

tree clump

garden wall

icehouse

Feature created: After 1844

boundary wall

Feature created: 1800 to 1833

A stone wall of Bembridge Limestone surrounds the landscape park.

gate lodge

Feature created: 1800 to 1833

Creator: John Nash (born 1752 died 1835)

Debourne Lodge is situated at the main entrance to the park. This is probably from the office of John Nash.

Designation status: The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Designation Grade II

cottage ornee

Creator: John Nash (born 1752 died 1835)

The Round House, a circular cottage orne opposite Debourne Lodge and outside the park, was built by George Ward as a toll house and is probably also from Nash's office.

Designation status: The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Designation Grade II

mausoleum

Feature created: 1816

Creator: John Nash (born 1752 died 1835)

The Graeco-Egyptian tower, built as a mausoleum for the Ward family, survives.

gate lodge

Feature created: 1800 to 1833

Creator: John Nash (born 1752 died 1835)

Church Lodge

Designation status: The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Designation Grade II

gateway

Feature created: 1841

An arched gateway, with gate piers and a flanking wall with the Ward crest and the date of 1841 is now the pedestrian entrance to the park at the top of Castle Hill.

Designation status: The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Designation Grade II

stable block

The former stable range was partially rebuilt after a fire in the 1980s.

Designation status: The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Designation Grade II

rose garden