Hilfield Castle

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Hilfield Castle
Grid reference: TQ15289629
Location: 51°39’13"N, 0°20’5"W
Village: Aldenham
Address: Hilfield Lane
Built 1798-1799
For: George Villiers
by Jeffrey Wyatt
Owned by: Jefferis family

Hilfield Castle, also Hilfield Lodge,[1] is a country estate and house to the east of Bushey in Hertfordshire, (from which it is separated by the M1 motorway) and about two miles east of Watford and a mile south-west of Aldenham.

The house is a Grade-II* listed building.[2]

The estate contains two large reservoirs, one of which were built by French prisoners of war in the 1790s,.[3] 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 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".[4] He also notes that the entrance and south sides are symmetrical and that the conservatory is of "ecclesiastical appearance."

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."[2] 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]

The house is owned by the Jefferis family as a private house and is not open to the public.[6]

History and description

Hilfield Castle c 1890

The castle was built in 1798-99 for the Hon. George Villiers, brother of the earl of Clarendon, to replace Slys Castle.

The huose and estate were 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.

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 [10] and hosts a sailing club.[11] It was built by French prisoners of war during the Napoleonic War. Today it is under constant threat of housing development.

Film location

The castle's close proximity to Borehamwood Studios and charismatic appearance has seen it feature in several TV series and films, including:

  • Lolita (Stanley Kubrick, 1962), in which when it served as “Pavor Manor”
  • Murder at the Gallop (1963)
  • Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) episode "For the Girl Who Has Everything" (1969-70)[12]

Outside 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. https://books.google.com/books?id=mOYyyPCRbuYC&pg=PA175. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 National Heritage List England no. 1103569: Hilfield Castle
  3. British Journal of Photography. Henry Greenwood & Co., Ltd.. 1 July 2002. p. 66. https://books.google.com/books?id=4vErAQAAIAAJ. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  4. Nikolaus Pevsner: The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, 1953; 1977 Penguin Books ISBN 978-0-300-09611-8page 68
  5. Banham, Joanna; Shrimpton, Leanda (1997). Encyclopedia of Interior Design: M-Z.. Fitzroy Dearborn. p. 1401. ISBN 978-1-884964-19-0. https://books.google.com/books?id=XYlUAAAAMAAJ. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  6. Country Life. November 1971. https://books.google.com/books?id=IdgjAQAAMAAJ. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  7. "THE HILFIELD PARK ESTATE BETWEEN ALDENHAM AND WATFORD 1906 sale documents" (in en-GB). The National Archives Catalogue. http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/1e6cd1ca-5c49-4d93-8c28-a1aaafac298a. Retrieved 2018-02-19. 
  8. A History of the County of Hertford - [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/herts/vol4 Volume 4 : Parishes – Aldenham (Victoria County History)]
  9. Hilfield Park Reservoir - Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust
  10. "Aldenham Country Park - Farm Hertfordshire" (in en). http://www.aldenhamcountrypark.co.uk/. Retrieved 2018-02-19. 
  11. Aldenham Sailing Club
  12. "Locations:For the Girl Who Has Everything". Randallandhopkirk.org.uk. http://www.randallandhopkirk.org.uk/locations_03_for_the_girl_who_has_everything.htm. Retrieved 19 June 2012.