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old offley
The history of Dog Kennel Farm is bound up in that of the two neighbouring great estates of Putteridge Bury Park and Offley Place. The current farmhouse on this site dates from the early eighteenth century, and seems to have been continually altered and enlarged throughout the nineteenth century. The farmhouse and land were once part of the estate of Putteridge Bury Park, ancient seat of the Docwra family, whose crest of the Silver Lion rampant adorns many houses in the picturesque nearby village of Lilley, and the Silver Lion pub, directly opposite Dog Kennel Farm on the other side of the A505 road. In 1788 the estate passed to John Sowerby, a Cumberland farm labourer, who had made a fortune through shrewd speculation and ended by becoming High Sherriff of Hertfordshire ! The Sowerbys subsequently adopted the crest of the Silver Lion. In 1808 the mansion was destroyed by fire and replaced by a typical Regency house, with gardens laid out by the eminent landscape designer John Claudius Loudon. Colonel George Sowerby died in a most unusual accident in 1888, being gored to death by a pet Egyptian stag in the park. His wife subsequently moved to a small house in the park. Captain Thomas Meadows Clutterbuck acquired the house in 1908. Since 1902 the Clutterbucks had rented Chequers (now the country residence of the Prime Minister) and they were so enamoured of the house that they commissioned the architects Ernest George and Yates (Lutyens had been a pupil of Sir Ernest George) to rebuild Putteridge Bury Park in a similar style. The result is a very good imitation of an Elizabethan country house and was completed in 1911. The gardens were laid out by Gertrude Jekyll. In 1921 the house and estate were bought by Sir Felix Cassel, a wealthy business man and patron of the local cricket club, the Cassel Village Hall in Lilley is named after him. Most of the land was purchased by The Crown Estate in the 1930’s and Putteridge Bury Park is now the conference and banqueting centre for the University of Luton.