In 1729, the garden designer, Stephen Switzer, wrote: "Without doubt, one of the best works of that kind in England, and perhaps as good as any else where."
These gardens were built for Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, who lived at Upper Lodge and was keeper of Bushy Park from 1709-1715. He was a career politician who created the joint stock company that was to become the Bank of England. He was a friend of Sir Isaac Newton and part of a circle of writers that included John Dryden and William Congreve.
Halifax diverted the Longford River into the upper pond, which fed the cascade and the other water features. The Longford River is an artificial waterway, created for King Charles l in 1638-9 to bring water from The River Colne at Longford to Hampton Court.
Samuel Molyneux, noted in 1714, about the Cascade, "Not very high but little and yet beautifully dispos'd so as to fall between two fine pieces of Grotto Work where are places left for Paintings representing two Caves in which the little walks round the Basin of the Cascade and the Paintings are removable so as to be taken away in Winter."
Stephen Switzer wrote about the Water Gardens in 1729, "This very handsome rural Design is supply'd by a Branch of the River Colne; which, though not affording a perpetual Current, yet is never wanting to give Spectators a peculiar Pleasure. The design is so well known, that I need not expatiate or enlarge upon it; but is, however, of so rude an' rustick a Manner that it may well serve as a Patten or Model to any that shall be disposed to make use of Water Works."