Hilfield Castle

Hilfield Castle
Hilfield Castle c 1890.jpg
Hilfield Castle c 1890
Hilfield Castle is located in Hertfordshire
Hilfield Castle
Location within Hertfordshire
General information
Architectural styleGothic
LocationHilfield Lane, near Aldenham and Bushey, Hertfordshire, England
Coordinates51°39′13″N 0°20′05″W / 51.6536°N 0.3348°W / 51.6536; -0.3348Coordinates: 51°39′13″N 0°20′05″W / 51.6536°N 0.3348°W / 51.6536; -0.3348
Construction started1798
Design and construction
Architect(s)Jeffry Wyatt

Hilfield Castle, also Hilfield Lodge,[1] is a country estate and house about 2 miles (3.2 km) east of Watford and 1 mile (1.6 km) southwest of Aldenham, in Hertfordshire, on the outskirts of London in the United Kingdom. The estate contains two large reservoirs, one of which were built by French prisoners of war in the 1790s,.[2] The grounds now form Aldenham Country Park. Elstree Aerodrome is located just to the east and the M1 motorway passes to the west.

Aldenham reservoir, the southern of the two reservoirs.

History and description

The castle dates to 1798–99, when it was built by architect Jeffry Wyatt for Hon. George Villiers, brother of the earl of Clarendon. to replace Slys Castle. It is a picturesque Gothic design, and the estate includes numerous cottages, barns and a boathouse on the reservoir.

Nikolaus Pevsner notes that it is a "castellated, turreted, and cemented house with a gatehouse complete with portcullis".[3] He also notes that the entrance and south sides are symmetrical and that the conservatory is of "ecclesiastical appearance."[3] The castle is built from brick with a 4-storey central tower "flanked by octagonal turrets to lower 4-storey bays with outer 2-storey bays with a later mansard attic."[4] The turrets have slit windows, which are machicolated and crenellated. Of note is the "octagonal Breakfast Room with a vaulted ceiling and a Gothic conservatory."[5] It became a Grade II* listed building on 1 June 1984. It is owned by the Jefferis family as a private house and is not open to the public.[6]

It was sold in 1818 by Villiers to John Fam Timins. He had served in the British East India Company, for whom he had captained several East Indiamen; he had most notably participated in the Battle of Pulo Aura. When he died in 1843, his son William Raikes Timins succeeded him. He died in 1866, and was succeeded by his nephew the Rev. Douglas Cartwright Timins, who died in 1872, when Hilfield passed to his son Douglas Theodore, who sold the house and park in 1906 to the late Lord Aldenham.[7][8]


The reservoir nearest to the house is called Hilfield reservoir and is owned by Affinity Water. It is managed as a wildlife reserve by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and is not open to the public except by appointment.[9] It was built in 1953.[10]

The more southerly reservoir is called Aldenham reservoir and forms part of Aldenham Country Park. It is open to the public with trails and other attractions [11] and hosts a sailing club.[12] It was built by French prisoners of war during the Napoleonic war.

Film location

The castle has appeared in several TV series and films, including Stanley Kubrick's motion picture Lolita (1962) when it served as Peter Sellers's “Pavor Manor”, George Pollock's film Murder at the Gallop (1963), and an episode of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) ("For the Girl Who Has Everything", 1969) when it was occupied by Lois Maxwell.[13]

External links


  1. ^ Prince, Hugh C. (1 April 2008). Parks in Hertfordshire Since 1500. Univ of Hertfordshire Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-9542189-9-7. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  2. ^ British Journal of Photography. Henry Greenwood & Co., Ltd. 1 July 2002. p. 66. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  3. ^ a b Pevsner, Nikolaus; Cherry, Bridget (11 March 1977). Hertfordshire. Yale University Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-300-09611-8. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  4. ^ "Hilfield Castle, Bushey". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  5. ^ Banham, Joanna; Shrimpton, Leanda (1997). Encyclopedia of Interior Design: M-Z. Fitzroy Dearborn. p. 1401. ISBN 978-1-884964-19-0. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  6. ^ Country Life. November 1971. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  7. ^ "THE HILFIELD PARK ESTATE BETWEEN ALDENHAM AND WATFORD 1906 sale documents". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. The National Archives Catalogue. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Parishes - Aldenham | A History of the County of Hertford: volume 2 (pp. 149-161)". British-history.ac.uk. 17 December 1903. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  9. ^ "Hilfield Park Reservoir Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust". www.hertswildlifetrust.org.uk. Archived from the original on 5 July 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  10. ^ "Hilfield Castle alongside the Hilfield Park Reservoir Dam under construction, Bushey, 1953". Britain From Above. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Aldenham Country Park - Farm Hertfordshire". www.aldenhamcountrypark.co.uk. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Aldenham Sailing Club - Home". aldenhamsc.co.uk. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  13. ^ "Locations:For the Girl Who Has Everything". Randallandhopkirk.org.uk. Retrieved 19 June 2012.