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Northwood Park, Cowes (also known as Bellevue)

Introduction

Northwood Park was originally a 19th-century landscape park with pleasure grounds. The pleasure grounds were presented to Cowes Town Council in 1929, and have been used as a public park ever since. The landscape park was redeveloped in the 20th century.

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

Northwood Park is situated in an elevated position above Cowes with views of the Solent. The site was originally a landscape park with pleasure grounds. which by the mid 19th century contained a number of specimen trees and shrubberies. Some of the shrubberies survive, thickly planted with Acuba, Bay, Laurustinus and other evergreens. The hedged boundary bank defining the western edge of the pleasure grounds survives. Surviving individual trees on the south lawn include two London Planes, a Yew, a Cedar of Lebanon and a large Holm Oak. Elsewhere there are specimens of Turkey, Cork, Holm and Mirbeck's Oaks.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

This is a public park, open daily throughout the year. Please telephone 01 983 296825.

The parks facilities include: A Children's play area, Tennis courts, A Bowls club and Car parking.

There are public toilets next to the Tennis Courts open during the Summer months between 09:00 and 17:00 daily.

Directions

In Cowes

Southern Vectis bus service no.1 stops at Park Gates.

Owners

Northwood House Trustees

History

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

18th Century

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.

19th Century

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.

20th Century

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.

Period

Early 20th Century (1901-1932)

Features & Designations

Designations

  • Conservation Area

  • Historic Environment Record (Local Authority)

Features

  • Flower Bed
  • Shelter Belt
  • Hedge
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Description: Part of northern and south-eastern wall are extant, but the site is now occupied by housing and a public open space.
  • Bowling Green
  • Terrace
  • Lawn
  • Planted Walk
  • Rose Garden
  • Shrubbery
  • Description: Some of the shrubberies survive, thickly planted with Acuba, Bay, Laurustinus and other evergreens.
  • Specimen Tree
  • Description: 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
  • Great House (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
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  • Icehouse
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  • Boundary Wall
  • Description: A stone wall of Bembridge Limestone surrounds the landscape park.
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  • Gate Lodge
  • Description: Debourne Lodge is situated at the main entrance to the park. This is probably from the office of John Nash.
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  • Cottage Ornee
  • Description: 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.
  • Mausoleum
  • Description: The Graeco-Egyptian tower, built as a mausoleum for the Ward family, survives.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Gate Lodge
  • Description: Church Lodge
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  • Latest Date:
  • Gateway
  • Description: 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.
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  • Stable Block
  • Description: The former stable range was partially rebuilt after a fire in the 1980s.
Key Information

Type

Public Park

Purpose

Urban Park

Principal Building

Public Buildings

Period

Early 20th Century (1901-1932)

Survival

Extant

Hectares

10

Open to the public

Yes

Civil Parish

Cowes

References

References