Capel Manor College
Capel Manor College is London’s only specialist environmental college, offering a diverse range of full and part-time courses in further and higher education for young people and adults.
The College plays a vital role in the green agenda for the capital, equipping the next generation of land-based sector workers with the skills and knowledge needed to help preserve and protect London’s wildlife, national parks and green spaces. With six campuses across the capital, Brooks Farm (Leyton), Crystal Palace Park, Enfield, Gunnersbury Park, Mottingham and Regent’s Park, the College has a vibrant student body of over 3,000 students that is a mixture of school leavers and adults of all abilities.
In 1913 the Capel Manor estate in Enfield was privately owned by the Warren family who were tea merchants, before being sold to Colonel Sydney Medcalf in 1932. Colonel Medcalf was passionate about horticulture and Clydesdale horses, and introduced soil steam sterilisation to the Lea Valley Glasshouse industry.
After the Colonel’s death in 1958, the estate had parts sold off, and became quite neglected. However, it was Frances Perry, a local horticulturist who succeeded with her vision in 1968 of transforming the Capel Manor estate into a horticultural college with gardens open to the public.
In 1968, the first 15 students started at what was then called the Capel Manor Centre for Horticultural Education, and in the same year Frances Perry became the first woman to be elected onto the RHS Council.
The Duchess of Devonshire became Patron of the College and Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles became a trustee in 1985.
Capel Manor College built its first garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, ‘Garden for Everyone’, and won a Silver-Gilt medal. The College has continued to exhibit at the show, picking up several awards along the way.
The College’s Royal connections continued in 2000 when the new Duchess of Devonshire Pavilion at the College’s Enfield Campus was opened by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened the Old Manor House Garden in 2010.
By 2013, Capel Manor College offered 65 courses across its campuses in subject areas such as, animal management, saddlery, horticulture, garden design, arboriculture and floristry.
The Royal Agriculture University became a partner and validating university for all degrees at the College in 2015.
2018 saw Capel Manor College celebrate its 50th anniversary and win Gold at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Gold at the Ideal Home Show, and in 2019 the College’s students, apprentices and staff, designed and built the world’s largest show garden at The Game Fair event held at Hatfield House.
Students at the college tend the gardens as part of their programme of study. Courses include agriculture, animal management, horticulture, saddlery, arboriculture, floristry, wildlife and environmental conservation, and garden design.
Students are given the opportunity to obtain real-world experience and help take care of the College’s estates, gardens, farms, zoos and commercial businesses across its six campuses.
The College’s Enfield Campus is also home to Capel Manor Gardens, which features over 30 acres of 60 colourful gardens that are open to the public, along with the UK’s only holly maze, a zoo, a florist (Manor Flowers) and a restaurant.
Forty Hall Farm is a certified organic farm in Enfield run by Capel Manor College, it is home to a variety of animals, including many rare breeds, and London’s only commercial vineyard, as well as a community orchard, market garden, farm shop and a certified organic veg bag scheme. Students can also study agriculture and horticulture here, gaining first-hand, practical experience as part of their learning.
The College’s Brooks Farm Campus is situated in Jack Cornwell Park and has been a feature of community life in Leyton for over 20 years as a city farm and in recent years has been transformed to also offer a selection of animal management courses.
Capel Manor College’s Crystal Palace Park Campus is located within the National Sports Centre, serving as an education hub for environmental learning in South London. Students contribute to the welfare of the Park and its green areas, as well as care for the animals at Crystal Palace Park Farm. Similarly, the Gunnersbury Park Campus has working access to parts of Gunnersbury Park, enabling students the chance to gain practical experience in a real-world environment.
The Mottingham Campus in South East London has beautiful grounds that extend into woodland, where honey is harvested from bees and the animals are regularly exercised.
The Regent’s Park Campus is located within the Inner Circle of Regent’s Park, and the College works in partnership with The Royal Parks to increase the options for horticulture and garden design training for people living and working in inner London.
- Kim Wilde
- Florence Headlam
- Arit Anderson
- "Capel Manor College-Kim Wilde". Association of Colleges. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
Capel Vine, Friends of Capel Manor, issue 4, 1997
Media related to Capel Manor College and Gardens at Wikimedia Commons
- Capel Manor College
- The gardens and the Clydesdale working horses at Capel Manor College
- Capel Manor College profile on Studyfinder.org