History: 5 - The Houblon era

A map of the Forest from 1757

The Houblon family owned Hatfield Forest and the adjacent estate at Hallingbury Place for nearly 200 years, from 1729 to 1923. The family played an important role in the further development and preservation of the Forest.

Buying the Forest

The Houblon family purchased the estate of Hallingbury Place, including Hatfield Forest , for the sole surviving male heir, Jacob Houblon III, in 1729.  He took up residence on his new estate after graduating from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. 

Landscape improvements in the forest 

In keeping with current fashion, Jacob Houblon III initiated a series of landscape improvements to the central area of the Forest, including the creation of the Lake, by 1746,  and building the Shell House.

Capability Brown provides a plan

The great landscape architect Lancelot Capability  Brown came to the Forest in 1757 and provided a scheme for altering the shape of the original lake, by the addition of two arms, one at each end.  This was partially implemented, the result being what is now the Decoy Lake. 

Victorian Consolidation

Ownership of the various rights in the Forest were consolidated in the 19th century and the Forest inclosed, allowing the Houblons to save the Forest from being ploughed up for agricultural use. 

A history of the Houblon family is published 

In 1907, Lady Alice Archer Houblon published an account of the Houblon family: "The Houblon Family: Its Story and Times" 

End of the Houblon era 

The Houblon family finally relinquished their interest in the Forest after nearly two hundred years when the Hallingbury Place estate, including the Forest, was sold at auction in 1923.