Large Houses in Aldenham

Caldecote Towers, Bushey Heath


Historically in the Parish of Aldenham, but often recorded as being in Bushey.

It would seem that Caldecote Towers was built by Captain William John Marjoribanks Loftus-Otway of the 4th Light Dragoons, who was definitely living at Caldcote Towers in 1878. Pevsner, in The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire, records "Obviously Mid-Victorian. A crazy display of commercial success with a big asymmetrical square tower. Much like a hotel at Harrogate or some such spa."


This advert for the sale of Caldecote Towers by auction  appeared in many different papers during July and into August, 1878.

It was not sold and The Chat of the Fair Column of the Evening Telegraph reported on August 14th:

Fancy going to Russia to find a purchaser for an English estate! The Caldecote Towers property, put up at Tokenhouse Yard last Thursday, was advertised in the Russian newspapers, and would-be purchasers were invited to England to inspect it.

 In 1879 the gardener at Caldecote Towers, Mr Nicholls, sold off 72 acres of meadow grass as hay. Uxbridge & W. Drayton Gazette, 21 June 1879.

Ricks later sold were owned by Otway. Watford Observer 31 January, 1880

However the house is not listed in the 1882, 1886 and 1890 Kelly's directories for Hertfordshire and he definitely had a house at 13 Grosvenor Square, London, from 1882 (or earlier) to his death in 1894. I did not identify it in the 1891 census, while William was living with many servants in Grosvenor Square.

ASSISTANT HOUSEKEEPER Required in Ladies Boarding School. Must be a good needlewoman. Address, giving particulars of age, experience, and salary required. House-keeper, Caldecote Towers, Bushey Heath, Herts.

London Daily News, 10th September, 1891


This advert was placed in many other newspapers


CALDECOTE TOWERS, Bushey Heath, Herts. - A first-class SCHOOL for GIRLS (resident pupils only) Caldecote Towers is a fine modern mansion within 13 miles of London, nearly 500ft above the level of the sea, and in its own grounds of 60 acres. The principals are teachers and schoolmistresses of experience and reputation, the staff is large and efficient, and the fees are strictly inclusive. For particulars address the secretary.

The Times, 20th January, 1892

There are several other gentleman's seats in the parish. Caldecote Towers (now a ladies' private school) is a large modern mansion in the Italian style, erected about 1870, at a cost of 30,000, and stands on an eminence nearly 500 feet above sea level, commanding fine and extensive views of the river Colne. The grounds are about 60 acres in extent and contains a gymnasium, a studio, cricket field, tennis courts, etc. [Kelly's Directory 1908]


This card was sent from Watford  by "Alice" (perhaps the teacher Alice Jenkins) as a Xmas card to Miss C. Saunders, Castle House Cottages, Donnington, Newbury, Berks.  "... Do you remember this view ..."

 The 1901 census shows a 19 year old Caroline B Saunders, born Bushey Heath, daughter of Robert T Saunders, living at Donnington. The 1891 census shows Robert as a gardener (domestic) living in California Lane, Bushey, with his family, including Caroline. - Perhaps he was gardener at Caldecote Towers?


Published by Downer, Watford - Posted 1904


The 1901 census shows it to have been a large boarding school. Under the 61 year old head mistress, Miss Medina Sara Griffiths there were four resident assistant mistresses, Elizabeth Ballinger, Julienne Guyomar, Alice Jenkins and Elinor Parker. The housekeeper was Alice Escott, assistend by Sylvia Driver, Louisa Crossley (sick nurse) and 19 resident domestic staff (not including any gardeners listed separately). The 75 resident pupils were girls between that ages of 13 and 18, and only two were born in Hertfordshire - Ella Attenborough (16, Bushey) and Mary Sharp (13 Bushey Heath).

Caldecote Towers, Bushey Heath, Aldenham, Post card by Buchanan Caldecote Towers, Bushey Heath, Aldenham, Post card by Buchanan

  Caldecote Towers, Bushey Heath

published by P. A. Buchanan, Croydon, Surrey

No 10986.  Printed in Berlin



No 10988.


Prior to the First World War Fred Streeter, who became the BBC broadcaster on gardening, was a gardener at the Caldecote Towers girls school. (Obituary, The Times, 3rd November 1975). In the 1917 Kelly's Directory  it is described as "Misses Tate & Tanner, girls' school. Caldecote Towers". The Times of 20 April 1926 carries a full page advert relating to the sale of the house and estate. It was purchased later that year by Rose Niland who borrowed 1200 as a down payment from her brother, a South African sheep farmer and the property became the Mother House of the Dominican Sisters, and with the name Rosary Priory became a convent school. It is now Immanuel College, Bushey, a co-educational Jewish day school.

The building is a Grade II listed Building.

View from Caldecote Towers, Aldenham, Herts, from water colour by Charles Essenhigh Corke  

Caldecote Towers, Aldenham, Herts, in snow - larger image not available

Caldecote Towers in the Snow


Caldecote Towers - View over the Golf Course


These cards were printed & published by J. Salmon, Sevenoaks, England, from original water colour drawings by Charles Essenhigh Corke.


J Salmon were important post card publishers and Charles Essenhigh Corke (1852-1922) was a photographer and artist who lived in Sevenoaks. Salmon published many of Charles' water colour views nearly all of which were of Kent or other southern counties. These are the only cards by Charles that I have found showing views in the northern home counties and the subject is rather surprising if they were specifically printed for sale in Hertfordshire . They are better considered as interesting art views. The pictures suggest he visited the place in the summer and in winter - and I wonder if one or both of his daughters were pupils in the school.


In connection with these card Edward James Gilbert, of Thunder Bay,Ontario Canada writes: I am a member of the Tunbridge Wells Family History Society and a researcher and writer of articles about the history of Tunbridge Wells. One of my hobbies is researching and collecting postcards, particularly those pertaining to Tunbridge Wells. of which the J. Salmon company of Sevenoaks produced many. Having researched Salmon postcards by such artists as A.R. Quinton, F.W. Burton (a local Tunbridge Wells artist) and others I recently turned my attention to the paintings of Charles Essenheigh Corke, who in addition to running a photographic studio in Sevenoaks, Kent became an accomplished artist in oil and watercolour and of whose work J. Salmon produced in the order of 200 postcards of his paintings, including the two you refer to of Hertfordshire. From my research there is no concrete evidence that Corke's daughters attended school in Hertfordshire but there is a connection of the Corke family to Hertforshire which might explain Charles atypical production of two paintings so far away from his normal range of operations. The connection is by way of his son Douglas Essenheigh Corke, born December 16,1896 in Sevenoaks. Douglas did not become a photographer or painter but after living with his parents in Sevenoaks he enlisted August 26,1914 with the Royal West Kent Regiment. He survived the war and was discharged August 17,1919 and returned to civilian life. He married Phyllis M. Carter in Sevenoaks in 1921 and later moved to Watford, Hertfordshire where he died December 1978. I have not researched Douglas's entire live and have not looked into when he first moved to Hertfordshire. Charles Essenheigh Corke died in 1922 and so either Douglas had moved there by then and Charles was visiting his son or the Corke family had other relatives in Hertfordshire. It would be interesting for my research to know the numbers of the two Hertforshire cards and so would appreciate it if you would post them. I replied saying the card had no reference number on.


Rosary Priory, Caldecote Towers, Bushey Heath, Herts, circa 1930
The Dining Room, Rosary Priory, Caldecote Towers, Bushey Heath, Aldenham, Hertfordshire   Classroom, Rosary Priory, Caldecote Towers, Bushey Heath, Aldenham, Hertfordshire
The Dining Room   A Classroom


During the war one of the nuns "was evacuated to Caldecote Towers, Bushey, Hertfordshire, where she narrowly escaped death from a bomb which partially destroyed the convent."

New Ross Standard, 13 April 1951

October 2008   Page created
April 2012   Major update
November 2012   Corke PCs
January 2013   Rosary Priory PCs
September 2013   2nd Buchanan card
January 2014   Note from Gilbert
November 2019   Minor news additions