Eastcote House Gardens
Eastcote House Gardens is an area of public parkland in Eastcote, within the London Borough of Hillingdon. The site covers Template:Convert<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>and incorporates the walled garden, dovecote and coach house of Eastcote House. The house was demolished by the Ruislip-Northwood Urban District Council (RNUDC), the predecessor of the London Borough of Hillingdon. At the public's request, the garden and outbuildings were retained and are now maintained by a group of volunteers, the Friends of Eastcote House Gardens, in partnership with the local authority.
Eastcote House was one of three largest in Eastcote, together with Highgrove House and Haydon Hall. All came to be owned by the RNUDC, but only Highgrove House remains in its original form; Haydon Hall was demolished in 1967 by the RNUDC's successor.
The coach house, dovecote, and garden walls received Grade II listed status on 6 September 1974.<ref name="Hillingdon listed">Template:Cite web</ref> Ecological surveys have found fifty types of trees in the gardens, and numerous species of birds, mammals and insects have been recorded. The gardens received the Green Flag Award in September 2011 following an earlier inspection.
Eastcote House is first recorded in 1507, when it was known as "Hopkyttes", under the ownership of the Walleston family.<ref name="Management">Template:Cite web</ref> In 1525, Ralph Hawtrey married Winifred Walleston, and they made Hopkyttes their marital home, renaming it Eastcote House. The house was extended by either Ralph Hawtrey or his son John, and the brick exterior added. The original timber framework was not revealed again until the house was demolished. John Hawtrey built the dovecote without applying for the required licence. After his death in 1593, his nephew Ralph Hawtrey applied retrospectively, and the licence was granted. During the 18th century, the dovecote was substantially rebuilt, leaving only the original first few rows of bricks.<ref name="Bowlt 31"/> The Hawtrey family, later the Hawtrey-Deanes, continued to live in the house until Francis Deane moved to East View in Uxbridge in 1878. Eastcote House was then let to tenants and parts of the estate sold for housing developments.
The Ruislip-Northwood Urban District Council purchased the house and grounds, totalling Template:Convert, in 1931 after it became endangered by the proposed new housing development by the builders Comben & Wakeling. Eastcote House became a public building for the use of the Scouts, Guides, Women's Institute and a welfare clinic, though under the ownership of the council, the condition of the house deteriorated. In 1962 the house was declared unsafe, and it was demolished two years later after the council ruled there were no features of the house worth retaining.<ref name="Bowlt 31">Bowlt 1994, p.31</ref>
The Eastcote Billiards Club began using the coach house in 1938. The club's lease of the building expired in 2005, but the club remained in residence, rent-free. In 2013, the club had moved to nearby Haydon Hall.<ref>"Eastcote Billiards Club" in Eastcote Park Estate Association Newsletter, July 2013, p 4
Eastcote Billiards Club website</ref>
The narrow bricks in the garden walls have been dated to around the 17th century. The walled garden would originally have been used predominantly for growing fruit, vegetables, and herbs for the household's consumption, as well as flowers to exhibit at shows and for pleasure.
The walled garden, coach house, and dovecote were retained at the public's request when the house was demolished.<ref name="Bowlt 31"/> On 6 September 1974, the garden walls and remaining buildings were awarded Grade II listed status.<ref name="Hillingdon listed"/> The herb garden was planted across the four centre beds in 1977 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II. These included Artemisia, Catmint, Santolina and Curry plants. To keep the plants within the beds, each was lined by Box in 1983.<ref name="Management"/>
The eastern wall was rebuilt in 1981, at which point the northern wall was reduced by seven layers of brick. An area of topiary with seven different specimens was planted in 1983 with Box, behind the coach house. Lilacs, Weeping Cherries and Hibiscus were planted in 1984 along the garden wall near the coach house. A pergola covered with Laburnum and Wisteria was introduced in 1986 leading to the entrance into the walled garden. Between 1986 and 1988, two iron gates and a sundial were added. In the 1990s, the orchard near the walled garden was supplemented by Black Mulberry, Walnut and Quince trees.<ref name="Management"/>
A footbridge crossing the River Pinn and leading to Long Meadow was replaced in 2007; the original had been built in 1977.<ref name="Management"/> In 2008, the Friends of Eastcote House Gardens was formed to care for the gardens and ensure they remain protected.<ref name="Management"/> The group received a £24,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund for the replanting of the gardens, which went ahead in April 2010.<ref name="FEHG">Template:Cite web</ref> The Mayor of Hillingdon officially reopened the gardens on 17 July 2010.<ref name="FEHG"/>
A survey completed in November 2009 found 50 types of trees in the gardens. Bats were found in the coach house during an ecological survey, but were not believed to be nesting there long-term. Species of birds observed in the gardens have included Song Thrush, Jay, Wren, Robin, Kingfisher and Tawny Owl. Mammals regularly observed include hedgehogs, grey squirrels and foxes. Butterflies including the Holly Blue and Painted Lady have been recorded.<ref name="Management"/>
Hillingdon Council provided a £150,000 grant in September 2010 for the restoration of the buildings. In April 2011, the council joined with the Friends to seek funding of up to £1 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, to support restoration work. It is planned that the coach house could be converted into a tea room.
The gardens received the Green Flag Award in 2011 following an earlier inspection. The flag was raised in a ceremony on 14 September 2011. Template:Clear
- Bowlt, Eileen. M. (1994) Ruislip Past. London: Historical Publications ISBN 0-948667-29-X
- Bowlt, Eileen. M. (2007) Around Ruislip, Eastcote, Northwood, Ickenham & Harefield. Stroud: Sutton Publishing ISBN 978-0-7509-4796-1
- Ruislip, Northwood and Eastcote Local History Society. (1984) Eastcote: a pictorial history. ISBN 0-9507154-2-5
- Eastcote House Gardens volunteers - London Borough of Hillingdon