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AGM, 15 May 2019

A gentle reminder that our AGM is tomorrow evening, Wed 15th , 7:30pm at St Lukes Church, Langley Way in the Meeting Room on the first floor.  We look forward to seeing you there.

And a quick prior update on matters happening in the Park:

  1. Car Parking
    1. The payment system is now in place in the main Car Park, you pay by Cash, Contactless or by Phone giving a Debit/Credit Card.
    2. First 2 hours are free but you must obtain and display a ticket. Three hours are £2 , then an additional £1 per hour.
    3. Tickets will are currently available from 9:45am but should shortly be available from 8am.
  2. Rustic Bridge
    1. Work continues with the new designed side-panels having general approval.
    2. The bridge will be closed for a day when tarmac is laid; signage will clearly indicate when.
    3. Access restrictions have meant several other projects have been delayed until work is complete, these include the Willow Spilling and the second phase of new bins on the canal side path.
  3. Signage
    1. Work continues on developing Interpretative signage for the park and the woodland areas, including basics such as nearest toilet!
  4. Cycling
    1. While work continues on developing a comprehensive policy, new temporary signs and Park Ranger activity will be targeted at speed reduction and reinforcing that pedestrians have absolute priority.
  5. Watercress Beds
    1. We are chasing the Environment Agency who need to approve the plan for the next stage of the development to reinstate this important area of habitat for the Park.
  6. Park Management Plan
    1. The new plan will soon be available on our website.
  7. Forthcoming Events
    1. AGM Tomorrow St. Lukes  at7.30pm
    2. Big Screen for the Cup Final starts at 4pm on Saturday.
    3. HMWT will have a pop up Visitor Centre near the Nature Reserve on May 29th(Our Speaker at the AGM will have more details)

Best regards,

Steve Jakeman

Council Liaison

Friends of Cassiobury Park

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Nature BlogNews

Update on Cassiobury car park improvement works: Alternative Parking Provision April 2019

We have received a letter from Watford Borough Council regarding parking provision in April. Here is the text of the letter:

“As you’ll be aware, to support the growing number of visitors to the park, Watford Borough Council is leading on a series of improvement works to the main visitor car park at Cassiobury Park.

The temporary overflow car park currently in place accommodates approximately 60 vehicles. However, we understand that the park becomes increasingly busy at this time of year as local schools break up for the Easter holidays. Therefore, over the school holiday period, from 8th – 22nd April, the temporary overflow car park will be supported by additional car parking at Watford Grammar School for Boys and Fullerians RFC, providing 80 and 40 spaces respectively. The council will also be encouraging visitors to walk, cycle or use town centre car parks or on-street parking (subject to restrictions).

Please see the table overleaf for further details on the alternative provision that has been arranged on each day in addition to the temporary overflow car park. Stewards will be stationed at Cassiobury Car Park to direct visitors to the alternative parking facilities throughout this period should it reach capacity.

The car park works are due to complete on Friday 3rd May ahead of the bank holiday weekend.

Yours faithfully,

Lauren Sharkey”

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Bandstand Opening

All the Friends of Cassiobury Park are invited by Watford Council to the opening of the bandstand on Sunday 4th August from 1:30 to 6pm.

The Bandstand has been beautifully refurbished and is now installed in its original position near the Char Cafe.

On the 4th there will live music, dancing and workshops for children.

The re-opening of the Char Cafe will also be celebrated.

For further information see :

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Limited facilities while improvement work is underway

Please note that because of improvement works going on in the park:

  • The pools will not be open this summer.  However, the playground, refreshment booth and (temporary) toilets are still available.
  • The Cha cafe area is currently closed and undergoing refurbishment but should be finished and open again fairly soon.
  • Car parking is limited.  Please use the eastern (Hempstead Rd) side of the park as much as possible , especially at weekends and in July and August when parking restrictions are lifted.

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AGM on 18th May 2016

Our annual meeting will be held at 7:30pm in St Luke’s Church Hall, Langley Way, WD17 3EG on Wednesday 18th May.   

The evening will include a progress update on the HLF project from Watford Borough Council and a briefing on the nature reserve from the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.

‘The Butterflies of Hertfordshire’ is the presentation after a coffee and tea break. The speaker will be Liz Goodyear whose roles at the Herts and Middlesex Branch of the Butterfly Conservation include field trip organiser.   So Liz is well qualified to give us some great insights into how the butterfly population of Hertfordshire is changing, what we can do to help and where to go to see the less common species.

All members are welcome….as are non-members who wish to join as a Friend of the Park at the meeting.


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Major works to start in Feb 16

Following the past 5 years of initial studies, design development, consultation, 2x applications to the HLF, detailed designs, planning applications & then a minor re-design, your patience and support will be rewarded in 2016 when we see work start on the restoration of Cassiobury Park.

In December, Borras construction was appointed to carry out all works in the park. They are based in St Albans and have worked on numerous Parks projects (including HLF funded) with experience of landscaping work, new buildings and restoration of heritage buildings.

  • The contract start date is proposed for mid-February, this means that the contactors will be in the park setting up their works compound (based adjacent to the car-park) & access routes in the 2 weeks prior from early February.
  • The Hub building and pools area work will start first with a 55-week programme and completion in March/April 2017.
  • A resident’s newsletter will be delivered shortly to all roads adjacent to the park informing of work dates/information/what to expect/contact details etc.
  • There will be a ‘construction blog’ on the WBC website.
  • The Cha café will remain open until at least the beginning of March.

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Archaeological Dig 30&31Oct 15


Excavation work on Sat 31 Oct 15
Excavation work on Sat 31 Oct 15

You may have recently noticed some curious goings on near the paddling pools.  This has been the SW Herts Archaeological Society surveying and excavating an area of the park that will soon be buried beneath the new HLF hub building.

Volunteers, including some of our FoCP members have been helping to determine what lies under the grass in this area.  Initial geo survey work had confirmed that there is building material in this area and had highlighted the specific areas where excavation would be helpful.


Results of Sep 15 geo survey imposed on 1945 aerial picture and current plan (blue) with new hub area (pink)
Results of Sep 15 geo survey imposed on 1945 aerial picture and current plan (blue) with new hub area (pink)

There was no evidence of buildings in this location on a 1945 aerial shot of the park and so far the digging itself has revealed possible traces of earlier usage – along the course of an 18th century drive as well as some building posts and some pottery fragments of medieval or Roman origin.  So far no large building of significant importance has been revealed and if this continues to the case then the site will be carefully monitored as the contractors for the new building start work.

If you want to participate in the work of the Archaelogical Society’s  in our area then please contact the Chairman, Laurie Elvin at or 07784 807108


Peter Jenkins   1 Nov 15

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Blue and Gold Macaw 16 Oct 15

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Yes, we have a big parrot in the park!!  Out on an HMWT work party this Tuesday, someone asked if we knew about the ‘large parrot’ in the park.  A few minutes later  a huge Blue and Gold Macaw landed on the door of the HMWT truck ! Clearly quite tame and looking for food.

A little later I got some shots of it and spoke briefly to the owner who is exercising his pet most days in the park. He also has two other species of parrot – so keep a good look out.

Peter Jenkins 16 Oct 15


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Update on HLF Project 29 Sep 15

Because of procurement issues and escalation in the cost of the project, the start has been delayed until the new-year and alterations are being made to downscale the plans…primarily to refurbish the Cha Café but not to enlarge it.  We have been assured that the changes will not affect the quality or facilities in the hub building and paddling pools and that they will still be open for business by the summer of 2017.

We were surprised to learn that the £60,000 that we understood had been allocated to the nature reserve in the park was not actually HLF project funded.  WBC has apparently ‘signed up’ to providing this sum over the years of the project.  However, Matt told us that WBC would need to raise these funds!   This is a concern as HMWT works on the reserve, such as improvements to water management, hide refurbishment and clearing the water cress beds have already been delayed for a number of years waiting for HLF funding.  We hope to meet with WBC and HMWT in October to make some progress to overcome this disappointing discovery, which appears to reinforce the view that the WBC HLF project needs to take more than a token interest in this very special area of the park.

Peter Jenkins 29 Sep 15

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New Book : Cassiobury – The Ancient Seat of the Earls of Essex

Image Courtesy of Watford Museum

Cassiobury – The Ancient Seat of the Earls of Essex – Paul Rabbitts and Sarah Kerenza Priestley

Publisher: Amberley Publishing

Year: 2014

About the book

One of the remnants of the great lost estates of the United Kingdom, Cassiobury Park is now the largest park in Hertfordshire and the principal park of its primary town, Watford, covering an area twice the size of Hyde Park in London. But this is no ordinary town park, nor is it a park that stems from the Victorian age. In 1661, Arthur, 2nd Baron Capel, was made the Earl of Essex, and by 1668/69 he had moved to Cassiobury permanently. Celebrated landscape gardener Moses Cook was commissioned here. By 1707, Cassiobury was a significant estate, and Charles Bridgman was employed at Cassiobury in the 1720s. In 1800, the 5th Earl of Essex employed James Wyatt to rebuild the house. Humphrey Repton was employed at Cassiobury and the landscape was captured by J. M. W. Turner in a number of paintings. By 1881, there were many deer in the park, often traded with the royal deer parks at Richmond, Bushy and Windsor Great Park. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the decline was obvious, with large areas of the park sold off to the Watford Borough Council for public parkland. By 1921, the lease was surrendered and in 1927 Cassiobury House was demolished. Much of the remaining land was bought by the council and became further parkland for the ever growing Cassiobury housing estate and expanding Borough of Watford. This book tells the significant story of a remarkable estate, family and parkland and has never been told before.


  • Foreword by Frederick Paul de Vere Capell, the 11th Earl of Essex
  • Introduction
  • The Morisons of Cassiobury
  • Cassiobury and the Capels
  • From Country Estate to Public Park
  • Cassiobury Today
  • Index

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