Monday, 8 April 2013

Ray Brook - Gobions

Ray Brook
Ray Brook rises from a number of sources in this area and flows westwards

Post to the west Hawkshead Lane

Gobions

What was called Gubbins mansion stood between today’s Gobions Pond and the back gardens of The Grove. It was an ancient estate dating back to at least the 13th. In three 18th increasingly wealthy owners ‘improved’ the estate and the mansion and in 1707 Jeremy Sambrooke employed Bridgeman and Gibbs to this end and an important landscape garden was built up. However in 1840 after Robert Gaussen of Brookmans became the owner he demolished Gobions mansion and incorporated the estate into his Brookmans estate. The ‘Pleasure Grounds’ were neglected for a hundred years and vegetation smothered the area. In 1938 Hatfield Rural District Council wanted to buy part of the estate as a public open space but War put an end to the project.  In 1956 North Mymms Parish Council acquired the land and the lake now known as Gobions Open Space. Twenty-nine years later local people subscribed to a fund to help the Gobions Woodland Trust buy the remainder of the estate.
Gobions Wood Nature Reserve. This is primarily ancient woodland but includes the remnants of the landscaped 'Pleasure Gardens' created in the 1760s. The range of tree species is remarkable; there are giant sequoia along with relatively rare mature elm trees. The woodland is locally known for its display of bluebells. It is also particularly good for fungi. An east west valley at the centre of the Wood is a focus for a number of water courses.
Bridges. In the woodland are bridges with the following inscription "The five bridges in this style were designed by Michael Jonas MBE (1936 - 2007) - the founder of the Gobions Woodland Trust -and erected during the 1990s by the work parties of volunteers which he organised." There are other memorial plaques throughout the woods
Garden features. These included a Pigeon House. A feature of the garden was a seven sided stone pigeon house designed by James Gibb. This was sold by Gaussen. Statues – there were several statues – a figure of Time holding a sun-dial; a statue of Hercules; statue of "Cleopatra as stung with an asp". Summer house – this was of timber and nothing remains except an indication that it was on a terraced slope. Grotto – the site of this is not clear. There are the remains of an ice house at the east end of Gobions Wood. The avenue of lime trees was felled and the stumps blown up during the Second World War as part of the "Dig for Victory" campaign. Bowling green, the site can be seen as a flat area with raised banks
Water features. Gobions Pond is now run by North Mymms Angling Club but is one of the remains of water features in the Pleasure Grounds. Canal – the remains of this are visible and it had a temple at the east end. The remains of the temple were excavated in 1988. Horse chestnut trees at each end of the canal could have been part of the original planting. Coastal Redwoods – these were planted along a path by Gaussen and it seems likely that a cascade was at the west end of this path. A puddingstone-faced bridge may have been part of it.

Gobions Open Space.
This is an area of land maintained by North Mymms Parish Council. It is a large field plus a play area.

Great North Road
The 16th milestone was north of Swanley Bar

Mymms Drive
Oaks in the gardens of houses.  These may have been part of the rotunda of trees in the Gobions Pleasure Grounds.

Swanley Bar Lane
This indicates the location of a tollgate on the main road.  ‘Swanley’ is thought to be a corruption of ‘Swanlond’ - the name of a local medieval aristocratic family.
Swanley Bar Farm. It is thought that this was an area of medieval occupation. It is today occupied by an engineering firm.
Folly Arch. This was built in 1740, perhaps by James Gibb. It was supposed to commemorate the estate’s connection with Queen Elizabeth 1 and was a "triumphal arch" and not intended as a gateway. When Gaussen combined the two estates he made a new driveway from here along one of Bridgeman’s tree lined avenues using the arch as a main entrance.  There is a story that a farthing was placed under each brick. The treatment is different on each side of the arch.

Sources
British History Online. North Mymms. Web site
Brookmans Park Newsletter. Web site.
Headley and Meulenkamp. Follies
Jones. Follies and Grottos
Webster. Great North Road

Throughout this section and its predecessors I am very impressed and grateful to the Brookman’s Park Newsletter.  Without it Gobions – above – would be almost unknown as would much else. Go and read it!

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