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Drawing of Little Cassiobury - Drawn by Rev. J Brown when it was in use as the local Herts County Education Office

Little Cassiobury (built late in the 17th century)

It is listed as grade II* (very important) “at risk”.

It is the last complete remnant of the Earls of Essex Cassiobury Estate in Watford. The Estate was auctioned off in 1922. It is now mostly a housing estate and a public park.

Originally created for the Capell family’s widows and other family members, this venerable building has been vacant for several years. It has remained unoccupied, mothballed and unused since Hertfordshire County Council vacated it around 10 years ago.

They bought it in 1938 via a compulsory purchase order. In the 1950s much of Little Cassiobury’s grounds were used to build the old Watford College. From then until early this century they used the house as one their office sites.

Little Cassiobury was created in times of turmoil where record keeping was often sketchy.

The how and exactly when the three Elizabeth's, and two Arthurs described below were involved commissioning, designing and eventually occupying this house is not clear.


Our aim is to preserve this important part of Watford’s built heritage for the enjoyment and education of future generations and to bring the building into beneficial use for all the community.

“...This is the best classical House in Watford.”

The Buildings of England (page 388) Founding Editor: Nicholas Pevsner

Photograph by Peter Jefree 2012




Friends of Little Cassiobury - Our Old Home page


Lady Elizabeth Capell (nee Morrison), heiress to Cassiobury

The mother of Arthur Capell  2nd Baron Capell, created Earl of Essex in 1661.

She was the widowed wife of Arthur Capell, 1st Baron of Hadham.

A Civil War royalist officer he had been captured after the Seige of Colchester, and executed by order of Parliament).

Their lands had been sequestrated by Parliament.

Lady Elizabeth Capel successfully petitioned Parliament for return of her family lands 7-8th May 1649 (see Pariamentary record on our "Elizabeth Morrison's petition" page.

Her lands (including Cassiobury) seem to have been returned to her on the grounds that they were hers by right of inheritance from her father, )Sir Charles Morrison.

Lady Elizabeth Capell (nee Percy )

Her daughter in-law was the widow of the 2nd Arthur Capell

Having been created the 1st Earl of Essex in 1661 he aledgedly commited suicide while a condemned prisoner awaiting execution in the Tower of London.

He had been implicated in the Rye House Plot.

Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham (nee Mytton)

She is asserted to have been the first woman Architect, and the designer of Little Cassiobury House by Architectural Historian, John Miller.

The two Arthurs Capell

A father condemned as a leading Royalist soldier and his son condemned as a plotter against king the Protestant Charles II and his brother James, who was to become England's last Roman Catholic monarch to reign over the three kingdoms (England, Ireland,& Scotland (Wales is a Principality - Incorporated int England under "Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542" by Henry V111)). In 1683 he was crowned James II of England & Ireland, and James VII of Scotland. His reign ended with the "Glorious Revolution" (1688).

The backdrop to the commisioning, and building of Little Cassiobury was the Civil War, Regicide, Parliamentary Comonwealth, Restoration, and the "Exclusion Crisis".

Its not clear which Arthur commisioned Little Cassiobury or for whom. Whose widow was its first resident is not clear either.