The artist Rev. John Brown said:-
“ I am very pleased that the committee think they can use the sketch of Little Cassiobury House. I did it in 1982 on the spot. I used it for my Christmas card that year, as every year I draw a building which particularly strikes me. That year I 'discovered' Little Cassiobury. (you have to know it is there as it is not placed prominently). I believe it was a sort of local office for the County Education Dept. then. But it is a very fine building and must be not just preserved, but used. It seemed to me it was a real little gem in Watford. “
We are a broad based group who want to find a 21st century use for Little Cassiobury that combines community arts with local history use.
Foundation of the organisation was announced in the local press in 2011.
Little Cassiobury House is a grade II* listed building in Hempstead Road, Watford. It is listed as at risk by English Heritage. Grade II* - (Two Star) are buildings of exceptional interest and of outstanding importance
The 2008 consultants report to Hertfordshire County Council gives a description of the building with pictures of its interior.
We started out with an idea that the house could become an arts centre along similar lines to the ‘The Courtyard' in Hertford providing space for local artists to work and exhibit. The Friends of Little Cassiobury is run independently of Watford Borough Council by committee elected at an annual meeting.
The cost is met by subscriptions and donations. As a member you will help to shape the future of the Dower House and be involved in helping to care for Watford's heritage.
There are two grade II* listed buildings in the centre of Watford. Both are listed by English Heritage as at risk. They are usable, architecturally interesting buildings that are part of our local history which has received little investigation prior to 1850 when Watford began to grow into a modern town. They are:-
Little Cassiobury was part of the the Essex's estate from the 1670s to the 1920s. From continued ownership and residence by one (extended) family of around 250 years there must be surviving records that shed light on who lived in Cassiobury House and Little Cassiobury House . Their household accounts and correspondence will help to shed light on hitherto neglected areas of Watford's history. They are said to have been keen patrons of the arts.
We began with a wide ranging discussion of possible uses for the building, and rejected many of them for a variety of reasons. In doing so we found our main purpose and the foundation of a means of fulfilling it. First we looked at the existing layout of the building its most likely usages prior to its being used as offices by the Herts County Council.
Our thanks go to Watford Borough Council for granting us £2000 from their Small Grants Fund. We used it to part fund a historical significance survey, and an impact study done for us by the Built Environment Advisory Management Service (BEAMS).
Thanks also to The Watford Observer and to West Herts Golf Club for making our organisation the beneficiary of their 2012 charity golf day.
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