Significant Figures in Cedars Park's History

Clay plaques were added to Cedars Park in recent years, to remember some significant people in the park's history. These plaques were designed by Philippa Threlfall.

Sir William Cecil

William Cecil was Queen Elizabeth I's Chief Advisor for most of her reign. He bought Theobalds in 1563 and accommodated the Queen on many occasions throughout the late 16th century.

On one of the Queen's visits in 1571, Cecil gifted her a drawing of the house. He was elevated to the Peerage the same year, becoming the Lord High Treasurer (Lord Burleigh), one of just 15 noblemen during the Elizabethan period. When Elizabeth visited the Palace in 1593, Cecil spent some 2500 pounds entertaining her.

'I meant it for a little place but must enlarge it for the Queen'
- Cecil had originally planned to keep Theobalds as a quiet family estate, but following Elizabeth's first visit he decided to enlarge and heavily renovate it to better accommodate her.

Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I stayed at Theobalds at least 15 times. Outdoor entertainments were held in the Great Garden.

'But I have the heart & stomach of a King'
- The Queen is suggesting that she is strong enough for activities usually considered manly, such as hunting. It is possible that she hunted at Theobalds.
Sir Robert Cecil

Following the death of his father William in 1598, Robert Cecil inherited Theobalds. King James I arrived at the Palace for the first time on 3 May 1603 and Cecil looked after him and his associates.

Cecil accommodated James I (of England) & Christian IV of Denmark for 5 days in 1606. The organised entertainments did not go to plan as most of the participants had been drinking heavily prior to the performance. This visit cost Cecil 1487 pounds.

In 1607, James I swapped Hatfield House with Cecil for Theobalds.

'The Queen calls me her little elf'
- Robert Cecil may have assisted his father William in looking after Elizabeth I on her visits to Theobalds. Robert may have acted as a servant to the Queen. Since he was younger than her, she chose the name 'little elf'.
King James I

Upon first seeing Theobalds in 1603, James I loved it and spent much of his later life there.

Following his and Queen Anne's acquisition of the estate in 1607, the King had a 2500-acre deer hunting ground created. Hunting was a favourite pastime of the Royal Family during the 17th century and they enjoyed many sessions at Theobalds.

In 1620, the King had a brick wall built around the estate. On an evening horse ride on 9 January 1622, he fell into the icy New River and was helped out by Sir Richard Young, who returned him to a warm bed at Theobalds.

James I died at Theobalds on 27 March 1625.

'Jewel was my favourite hound'
- In 1613, Queen Anne accidentally shot and killed the King's favourite dog Jewel during a hunting session. After some initial rage, he presented Anne with a diamond worth 2000 pounds (although records suggest he paid 1500) in memory of the dog and as an apology for his anger.
Munten Jennings

Munten Jennings was Robert Cecil's gardener at Theobalds until James I acquired the estate. He then served as both Jame I's gardener at Theobalds and Cecil's at Hatfield House. He also served as the gardener at Cranborne Manor. Jennings also went by the forename of Mountain and Montague. The nearby Montayne Road may be named after him.

'Silkworms flourish on my mulberry trees'
- Jennings was ordered by James I to build a silkworm house at Theobalds. The silkworms were fed the leaves of mulberry trees.
King Charles I

Charles inherited Theobalds from James I. He added several carvings and paintings of stag heads to the Great Gallery. Despite a very happy childhood at Theobalds, Charles had complained in 1624 that there were no birds to hunt, therefore he only stayed there on occasion.

'My early years were so happily spent to play at Theobalds'
Major General William Packer

William Packer was a Major General during the Civil War. To support the troops, he sold the lead from buildings at Theobalds that had either been demolished for this purpose or destroyed in the War. It is believed that George Prescott used the remaining unsold materials over a century later, to build Theobalds Square.

'Strip the lead from the roof to pay the troops'
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Hedworth Meux

The Meux family began renting Theobalds around 1820, and acquired it shortly after. Hedworth inherited the grounds from Lady Valerie Meux under the condition that he change his surname to match hers (his family surname is Lambton). By 1919, Sir Hedworth Meux owned Theobalds and generously donated most of its grounds to the people of Cheshunt, to be used as a public park called The Cedars. The official covenant can be found here.