History

Cedars Park is an important heritage site with a very rich history dating back to the 14th century.

The park is the former site of Theobalds Palace, a country house frequented by Elizabeth I and later acquired by James I, who transformed it into a grand royal palace and deer park, which became his favourite residence. Cedars Park is therefore a very important site for national heritage.

For much of the Jacobean period, England was run right from these grounds, as the country was an absolute monarchy. From what we know, Theobalds in its heyday could easily have been the most elaborate and renowned estate in the country.

Theobalds Palace was largely demolished during the English Civil War. In 1919, the grounds where the palace stood were donated by covenant as a public park called The Cedars, which opened in 1921.

Timeline

23 July 1383

The manor of Cullynges (Cullings) is owned by Mr William Attemore.

3 August 1383

Being indebted to William de Tongge by 101 pounds, Attemore hands Cullynges to him, along with another estate called Le Mores. Cullynges is renamed Tongs. A study on the property mentions 76 acres of crops, 91 of pasture, 10 of meadow, and 5½ of wood, as well as a grand main building.

1440

The house is named Thebaudes (Theobalds).

1441

Master of St Anthony's Hospital John Carpenter, his son and Chancellor of the Exchequer John Somerset acquire the property.

1563

Sir William Cecil purchases the Theobalds estate from a London mercer named John Elyott. Almost immediately, he begins building a small mansion on the the estate for his son Thomas.

27 July 1564

Queen Elizabeth I enjoys her first recorded visit to Theobalds, and plans another.

1564

In preparation for further visits by the Queen, Cecil heavily expands the property to better accommodate her (despite having bought the estate with the intention of keeping it as a quiet family home) — he begins building a grand house, completed in 1585. By the end of the 1560s, Theobalds was England's largest private house.

22 September 1571

Elizabeth pays a second visit to Theobalds. Cecil gifts her a drawing of the house.

1572

A visit by the Queen is recorded.

Cecil acquires the vicinal manor of Perieres, and uses it to enlarge Theobalds.

May–June 1575

The Queen stays at the Palace for two weeks, during which time Elizabeth's Privy Council holds eight meetings.

1577

A visit by the Queen is recorded.

1582

The palace is extended further.

July 1591

The Queen stays at Theobalds for around 10 days, during which time she is presented with the Hermit's Welcome.

1592

A visit by Jacob Rathgeb (Secretary to the Duke of Wirtemberg, Germany) is recorded. Frederick of Moempelgard visited several English cities and towns in 1592, and could have accompanied Rathgeb on his stay at Theobalds.

1593

The Queen enjoys a 9-day visit, which cost Sir William Cecil some 2500 pounds.

The Queen begins to stay the Palace for long periods of time. During these stays, lavish performances, sporting events and other entertainments are held, all at Cecil's expense.

1594

A visit by the Queen is recorded. The Hermit of Theobalds delivers her a formal speech.

1596

A visit by the Queen is recorded.

1598

Sir William Cecil dies, his son Robert inherits Theobalds.

1602

Frederic Gerschow, Secretary to the Duke of Stettin Pomerania visits the Palace and notes 52 painted & carved trees in the Green Gallery, each representing an English province, displaying Arms of Earls and Barons. There were also decorations depicting produce grown in these regions.

24 March 1603

Elizabeth dies from sepsis.

3 May 1603

King James I makes his first arrival at Theobalds on a journey from Edinburgh to London. He stays there for 4 days and is paid respect by local Lords and appoints several new members of the English and Scottish nobility. Many extravagant entertainments take place. The arrival is described as follows:

May 1605

Fulke Greville carries out a survey of Theobalds and suggests enlarging some windows in one of the galleries.

July 1606

Christian IV of Denmark accompanies James I (his brother-in-law) on his second visit to the Palace. The 5-day stay included heavy drinking and entertainments (known as The Hours), the final of which is described as disastrous in Sir John Harington's account. The visit cost Sir Robert Cecil 1180 pounds, plus 284 for presents and 23 to Inigo Jones for the masque props.

May 1607

Robert Cecil exchanges Theobalds for Hatfield House, officially giving the Palace to Queen Anne, although some texts state it was given to her husband King James, as he owned Hatfield House. A masque is performed to celebrate the exchange.

1607–c. 1612

Cecil and his gardener Munten Jennings work together to expand the property and its gardens. Cecil chooses to demolish and re-build some of the buildings.

July 1613

The King's favourite dog, Jewel, is accidentally shot during a hunt. The King was furious and stormed exceedingly for a while before realising that it was his wife, Queen Anne, who shot the dog. As an apology for his anger, he gifted her a diamond worth 2000 pounds (although records suggest he only paid 1500).

Autumn 1613

Johann Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Weimar visits Theobalds and hunts with James I.

1614

James I of England and Christian IV of Denmark stay at the Palace together for a second time.

July 1615

James invites Polish-Lithuanian nobleman Tomasz Zamoyski to hunt with him at Theobalds.

January 1618

James suffers from gout, and a play is performed for him, which he reportedly does not enjoy.

September 1618

James orders the demolition of two newly-built tobacco shops near Theobalds, as his Courtiers disliked them. Munten Jennings, the gardener at Theobalds, is instructed to build a silkworm house on the estate.

1620–1621

James has a wall built around the estate.

9 January 1622

After dinner, the King rides to the New River to see the ice on the water. He falls in head first and is helped out by Sir Richard Young, who returns him to a warm bed at Theobalds.

27 March 1625

After residing at the Palace for his final years, James I draws his last breath following a string of severe illnesses and a stroke earlier in the year.

Charles I inherits the estate.

September 1633

Henry Cary, 1st Viscount Falkland breaks his leg at Theobalds, which is amputated — he dies as a result.

30 January 1649

Charles I dies, his son Charles II inherits Theobalds and is crowned at the gates.

1650

A parliamentary survey of Theobalds estimates its size as 2500+ acres, and determines that it is in excellent condition and not fit for demolition. The report is misread and a great portion of the Palace is taken down.

1651

Charles II is exiled from England after being defeated by Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester.

1660

Charles returns from exile.

1661

The estate is granted to George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle.

3 January 1670

Christopher Monck, 2nd Duke of Albemarle inherits the estate.

At some point, King William III acquires the estate.

1689

King William III grants the Palace to Hans William Bentick, 1st Earl of Portland.

23 November 1709

William Earl of Portland dies, his sons inherit the property.

1762

William Cavendish-Bentick, 3rd Duke of Portland sells Theobalds to George Prescott.

1763

Prescott begins to build a mansion on the grounds, which became known as Theobalds Park.

1765–1770

Prescott builds a number of brick houses on the grounds, and a flint folly.

1783

A survey of the property says "The former Palace of Theobalds [is] now in a ruinous condition".

Late 18th century

Theobalds is passed to Oliver Cromwell (namesake of his famous grandfather).

The Prescott family appear to have continued to live here at this time (see c. 1820).

c. 1820

The Prescott family leave Theobalds Park and begin renting it to the Meux family.

1860

The Meux family purchase Theobalds Park.

1841

Henry Meux (1st Baronet) dies, leaving Theobalds Park to his son, Henry Meux (2nd Baronet), who makes great changes to the estate.

1880

After London's Temple Bar was dismantled in 1787, the Meux family (by wish of Lady Meux) purchase the arch from the City of London and it is transported from Farringdon Road to Theobalds, and reconstructed at a cost of 10 thousand pounds.

Lady Meux often entertained guests, including Winston Churchill, in the upper chamber.

A new kitchen, gun room, swimming pool and indoor roller-skating rink are added to the estate.

1883

Henry Meux (2nd Baronet) dies and his son Henry Bruce Meux (3rd Baronet) inherits the estate.

1885

Henry Bruce Meux and his wife Lady Meux move into Theobalds Park.

1886

Some extensions are made to Theobalds Park.

1887

A water tower is built at Theobalds Park.

1910

Lady Meux dies and Hedworth Lambton inherits Theobalds, changing his surname to Meux as per her request.

19 December 1919

Sir Hedworth Meux signs a covenant bestowing The Cedars to Cheshunt Urban District Council for the enjoyment of the people of Cheshunt.

1921

In preparation for the park's opening, a tank from the Great War is moved into Cedars Park with a special street ceremony.

2 July 1921

Sir Hedworth Meux and the Earl of Cavan officially open The Cedars Park to the public.

Fly through Theobalds Palace