Three lovely places to visit should you fancy a visit to the small town of Bushey
1st Triumvir – St James Church
This delightful village church is approached by a rather magnificent Lynch Gate, which was originally built in 1920 as a memorial to the dead of WW1, but then destroyed in WW2 by a bomb, and rebuilt later. Apt that a “corpse gate” can also be a war memorial.
It seems that the village green in front of the church is also a result of that WW2 bomb, as older references talk about the church being hidden from view behind a row of cottages. Today, it’s in full view and a very active part of the local community.
The church itself dates from the 13th century, but was extensively remodeled by none other than Sir Gilbert Scott in 1871. The wonderful dark wood roof timbers are apparently of the same era as the rebuilding, but the moulded wallplate is of the fifteenth century.
The rather magnificent painting above the altar is the arms of Queen Anne, and rumour has it that it may be have been painted over an even older medieval work of religious art. Something for the x-rays to peer at maybe.
It’s a confusing church with bits looking to be older, but in fact not, and remnants of genuine older church peering out from the corners.
However, it is a lovely little place to sit and think for a while.
Also, if it looks oddly familiar, then that’s because its conveniently close to the TV studios at Elstree and sometimes appears in TV shows, including Eastenders.
2nd Triumvir – Bushey Museum
This is a proper old school style local museum with short opening hours and lots of cases of objects to look at devoted to long since closed industries.
In other words, wonderful.
It’s on two floors, currently with a photographic exhibition and a bit about the Red Cross, but two of the main rooms are given over to the history of the local area. A lot on the war time effects on the town, and two Royal coronations.
Being a local museum of local folk, obviously, it has some rather quaint objects, for only a local museum would celebrate the opening of the local Pig Club and noting the long service of the Small Pig Keepers Association.
A glass case of old coins dug up around the area ruefully admits that some were probably dropped by Victorian collectors, rather than suggesting that Bushey was an unexpected outpost of ancient Greece.
The area was also the failed end of the Northern Line, which was never built, but they do have a poster sized tube map on the wall showing the planned extension.
Upstairs though is a room devoted to the local queen of art, Lucy Kemp-Welch who lived locally, taught art locally, and exhibited widely.
She was particularly skilled at painting horses, mostly in working mode, such as war horses, polo horses, or racing horses.
She is of course, also the artist who illustrated Black Beauty.
3rd Triumvir – Bushey Rose Garden
When the artist mentioned above taught, she did so in the Herksomer School of Art, but the building was demolished in 1912by Herksomer to make way for a rose garden.
Herksomer died in 1914, but not before the garden was first laid out by Thomas Mawson, one of the leading landscape designers of the time.
Many of the original features remain, such as the sunken garden in the centre, with its tall fountain, along with the pergola and rose temple.
There is a small building which contains details of the rose garden’s history, but on my visit the doors were closed.
Although a rose garden, not much of it is given over to roses, which personally I approve of, as while the rose flower is lovely, the rest of the plant is less so, especially in winter months. So the borders are massively planted with vastly more bushy plants which will also not look like an evil forest of deadly thorns during the winter.
During the 1980s and 90s the garden was rather neglected by the local council, until a restoration in 2010, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Today it’s a nice spot to sit in the very grand park benches and relax for a bit.