Cassiobury House, Watford
PUBLISHED: 15:53 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:29 20 February 2013
International property specialist Nick Churton was surprised when he was asked to sell a $9million mansion in New York with the same name - Cassiobury - as the one which once stood in his home town in Hertfordshire.
ASK anyone who grew up in Watford what happened to the famous house on the edge of the town that was home to the Earls of Essex.
If they remember what they were taught at school, theyll say it was knocked down in the late 1920s and all thats left now is the parkland that once belonged to the estate.
But theres a sequel to the story, as international property specialist Nick Churton discovered when he was asked to sell a $9million mansion in New York with the same name as the one which once stood in his home town in Hertfordshire.
He explains, Cassiobury House was a large mansion that had been extended in a variety of styles over the centuries including Tudor and Gothic. Like many of Englands great houses in the 1920s, Cassiobury was a victim of changing economic times. Many landed families could no longer afford the upkeep of such grand houses.
Preparing to market the American house, Nick noticed an interesting coincidence. Cassiobury House in New York was built in 1927, the same year the Watford mansion was demolished. In England at that time, posters had been circulated listing the second-hand building materials that were available.
Nick says, They advertised old oak; fine panelling and 10,000 Tudor bricks. Most of these would have been redistributed around the UK. But somebody purchased a quantity of the bricks and shipped them to America.
No-one knows if the panelling found its way to New York. But many tons of Cassioburys historic Tudor bricks certainly did and it was these that were used to build the new Cassiobury in Bedford, New York.
In fact the New York house was not the only American recipient of the Cassiobury salvage. The magnificent curved staircase made its way to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and is still there today.
Nick began his education at the primary school built on the site of the demolished mansion. He recalls, Despite the fact that the house was torn down many years before I was born my own history is entwined with it. The beautiful park that surrounded the house and gardens was bought by Watford Borough Council as a public amenity and this was my childhood playground.
Not only has it been a thrilling coincidence to discover the American house but Ive also learnt that the old house didnt really die. It merely moved across the Atlantic to New York and lived again.
It is 100 years since Watford Borough Council bought Cassiobury Park from the owners of the Cassiobury Estate for the public to enjoy.
To mark the centenary,Watford Museum organised a varied programme of events throughout the spring and summer. Photographs and paintings of the house and park along with portraits of the Earls of Essex and their families are included in the museums Cassiobury Collection. You can view them online at http://www.watfordmuseum.org.uk/