Forty Hall & Estate


Forty Hill, Enfield, Middlesex, EN2 9HA


020-8363 8196



Opening times:

Tue–Fri 11:00–17:00, Sat-Sun 12:00-17:00

How to get there:

Train: Turkey Street (from Liverpool Street) then a 20-min walk
Bus: 191, W10 to Forty Hill roundabout

Entry fee:


Additional information:

Café, open Oct–March 11:00–16:30

This notable Caroline mansion of red brick was built 1629–32 for Sir Nicholas Rainton, a wealthy haberdasher, Lord Mayor of London and President of St Bartholomew’s Hospital. The architect is not known, although a case has been made for Edward Carter, Chief Clerk of the King’s Works, colleague and successor of Inigo Jones as Surveyor-General. The hipped roof is of particular interest, being advanced for its time and an important early example of this popular style. On Rainton’s death in 1646, the estate passed through several owners, being purchased by Major Henry Bowles, MP for Enfield, in 1895. Internal alterations were carried out around this time. In 1951 Forty Hall was sold to Enfield Council by Derek Parker Bowles.

Surrounded by attractive informal gardens, which include one of the most ancient cedars of Lebanon in the country and an avenue of limes planted in the 18th century, the house still appears externally much as it did when built. In the grounds some few remains have been found of Elsyng Palace, a Tudor royal manor and hunting lodge, where in 1547, in the presence of Princess Elizabeth, Edward VI received the news of the death of his father Henry VIII and of his consequent accession.

The Entrance Hall has good Rococo plasterwork of c. 1787, with medallions representing the Seasons. The fine carved panelling on the early 17th-century Hall Screen is an outstanding survival from the original house. The Dining Room and Drawing Room retain their original fireplaces, panelling and plaster ceilings with bold strapwork decoration. In the Rainton Room is a fine portrait of the original owner of the house, ascribed to the great Civil War-era portraitist William Dobson. Of the four rooms on the first floor, two keep their original elaborate plaster ceilings (one of them dated 1629). One of the rooms contains a Childhood Gallery displaying local toys, clothes and cribs from the 19th century to the 1940s. Temporary exhibitions are also mounted here.

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Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

FULL LISTING of CURRENT EXHIBITIONS in London from Apollo Magazine »

Emily Barber recommends five major London museums »

Please do share your comments and updates with us via the form below the entry for each museum.


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Wesley's Chapel
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Victoria & Albert Museum
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The Courtauld Institute of Art (Somerset House)
Sir John Soane's Museum
Shakespeare’s Globe
Serpentine Gallery
Science Museum
St Bride’s Crypt Museum
St Bartholomew’s Hospital Museum
Saatchi Gallery
Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Mews
Royal London Hospital Museum
The Faraday Museum
Royal Hospital Chelsea
RCM Museum of Music
Royal Academy of Music Museum
Royal Academy of Arts
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The Queen’s Gallery
Prince Henry’s Room
The Photographers’ Gallery
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Orleans House Gallery
Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret
Natural History Museum
National Portrait Gallery
National Gallery
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Musical Museum
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Museum in Docklands (Museum of London)
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The Queen's House
Old Royal Naval College
Marianne North Gallery (Royal Botanic Gardens)
Marble Hill House (English Heritage)
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London Transport Museum
London Fire Brigade Museum
London Canal Museum
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Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Leighton House
Kingston Museum
Kew Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
London Museum of Water & Steam
Kenwood House (English Heritage)
Kensington Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
Keats House
Jewish Museum
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Imperial War Museum
ICA Institute of Contemporary Arts
Hunterian Museum
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Hampton Court Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
Ham House (National Trust)
Guildhall Art Gallery
Guards Museum
Grant Museum of Zoology & Comparative Anatomy
Geffrye Museum of the Home
Fulham Palace
Freud Museum
Foundling Museum
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Florence Nightingale Museum
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Fenton House (National Trust)
Fashion and Textile Museum
Fan Museum
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
Eltham Palace (English Heritage)
Dulwich Picture Gallery
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