Duck Pond

and Water Features at Theobalds

The duck pond at Cedars has been a feature of the grounds since Theobalds Palace was here, however the Palace also had several other water features - in fact, it was famous for its elaborate garden waterworks and pools.

Most of Theobalds' gardens had some sort of water feature. We know just from the name that there was one in the Fountain Court. The most central section of the Great Garden contained a white marble fountain, with hidden pipes that would spray unwary passers-by.

There was also a miniature ship with cannons, flags and sails. A single wide canal, with fish in abundance, surrounded most of these gardens. A visitor once described an ornamental pond with two wooden water-mills as 'delightful and most beautifully made'.

During the 18th century, several large houses (Theobalds Square) were built on the site of Theobalds Palace, each with its own water garden. The Cedars looked out over a T-shaped pond, designed to reflect the Flint Arch. The pond was filled in when the gardens became Cedars Park, but is now a sunken swamp which collects water after heavy rain. A small well from Old Palace House remains near the car park.

There was also a boating pond at Theobalds, located in the area which now holds Cedars Park's new car park, but this was filled in sometime between 1898 and the early 1960s.

Today, the Cedars Park pond features a modest water feature in the centre, made from a plastic container. Birds can often be seen enjoying a massage by the falling water.

Two terrapins have lived in the pond at Cedars Park for many years, which are believed to be Red-Eared Sliders and may have been placed there in the late 1980s/early 1990s during the height of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" cartoon popularity, when many people bought terrapins as pets but could not look after them properly, subsequently releasing them in local waters. Our terrapins are usually out of sight, but can occasionally be seen basking on the rocks. It is unknown if they hibernate. They are likely both the same gender, as they do not appear to have had any young.

Sadly, due to the Environmental Agency specifications that Broxbourne Council is licenced under, there are plans to remove the terrapins from the pond, as they are deemed an invasive species which can cause a salmonella risk. It is understood that this involves their euthanisation (however this has not been confirmed). We hope that this does not go through, as birds and insects have always thrived in the Cedars Park pond, and the water does not appear to be contaminated. Formerly, carp also lived in the pond, however these have been removed under this licence, according to the Council's latest Management Plan.