Danesbury House has an interesting history, having been built in 1776 by Captain Hon. Henry St. John R.N. for his young American bride Mary, and originally named St John’s Lodge. He was killed shortly afterwards in1780 whilst commanding The Intrepid, a 64 gun Ship of The Line at the Battle of Martinique. Mary lived on with their son Henry for many years. The House was re-named Danesbury House in 1824 by William Blake, a later owner, and it was his son William John Blake who commissioned the building of the fernery.
In vogue with the Victorians’ Fern Craze the Danesbury Fernery was designed in 1859 by Head Gardener, Anthony Parsons, and built by the Broxbourne based rock builder James Pulham II & Sons in an old chalk pit to the East of the House in what is now one of the pastures of the Danesbury Local Nature Reserve.
Parsons, who came to Danesbury in 1851, was a fern cultivator of some renown; Pulhams were the leading artificial rock builders in the country. Completed in 1860 details of the construction of the fernery was given a whole chapter in W.Williams famous book ‘English Rock Gardens‘ 1881 and was also described in the leading journal of the time Garden Memoranda as ‘the best fernery to be found in the Home Counties‘.