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Brief description of site

Hatfield Forest is a rare example of a surviving medieval Royal hunting Forest, characterized by coppices, woodland pasture and rides. In addition to the natural features, the central area contains landscape features mostly dating from the 18th century: an artificial lake, exotic, non-native specimen trees such as planes, yews, horse chestnuts and cedars of Lebanon, and a Shell House or Grotto on the lakeside. Capability Brown was responsible for a slightly later modification to the lake.

Brief history of site

Hatfield was declared a Royal Forest by Henry I in about 1100 and fallow deer were introduced from Sicily. The last Royal hunting rights were surrendered in 1446. The Forest then passed through a succession of owners, before being acquired by the Houblon family in 1729. By 1746, a lake of about 3.24 hectares had been created in the marshy central area of the Forest. A Shell House was built beside it. In 1757, Lancelot Capability Brown proposed a scheme for improvements, although only part of the plan was implemented. The National Trust acquired the Forest in 1924, as a result of a bequest made by the noted conservationist, Edward North Buxton.

Location information:

Address: Takeley, Bishop's Stortford, Essex, CM22 6NE

Locality: Bishop's Stortford

Local Authorities:

Essex; Uttlesford; Hatfield Broad

Historical County: Essex

OS Landranger Map Sheet Number: 167 Grid Ref: TL537203
Latitude: 51.8601 Longitude: 0.230588

Visitor facilities

Key information:

Form of site: landscape park

Purpose of site: Ornamental

Context or principal building: recreational

Site first created: After 1100

Main period of development: Mid 18th century

Survival: Extant

Site Size (Hectares): 400

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