Thorndon Country Park
529ac/214ha SSSI (part)
Grid ref: TQ 605 915 (click for o/s map)
Available also via books and apps – click here for details.
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The area now occupied by Thorndon Country Park first became a deer park in the 15th century, but its present shape was established in the 18th when it was landscaped by Capability Brown for the owner, Lord Petre of Thorndon Hall. It became a country park in the 1950s.
Originally it was in two separate parts, the northern section on a gravel ridge and the southern part on clay soil lower down. These are now connected via a block of small hedged fields known as Old Thorndon Pastures, grazed by English White rare breed cattle.
Ancient trees are a special feature, scattered throughout the woods and also in the former wood-pasture, now called The Deer Park. Notably, there are huge beech trees near the centre in Thorndon North, and some giant former pollard oaks and hornbeams.
Parts of the park used to be heathland, now a scarce habitat, and to restore it sections are being grazed on rotation by goats and sheep.
It has two large ponds: Childerditch Pond in Thorndon North, with a small marsh and an open meadow to its north, and Old Hall Pond in Thorndon South.
The park attracts a wide variety of birds, and sometimes spectacular numbers of winter visitors such as siskins, redpolls and bramblings. It supports many butterflies, including white-letter hairstreak, marbled white and silvert-washed fritillary.
South of Brentwood and west of the A128 (Ongar –Brentwood– A127). The main entrance to Thorndon North is off The Avenue, which links the A128 and the B186 (Brentwood–South Ockendon). The entrance to Thorndon South is off the A128 just north of its junction with the A127. SatNav: CM13 3RZ.
Brentwood railway station is about 2km (via Hartswood and Little Warley Common) from Thorndon North. Buses from Brentwood Town Centre run to Eagle Way, Warley.
Open all year from 8am to dusk. The visitor centre in Thorndon North is open every day from 9am to 5pm (4pm in winter).
May for spring flowers and birdsong in the woods; October for fungi.
The Centre has wheelchair access and a disabled person's toilet. A battery-powered scooter can be provided on request.
For more information about the park or about events and activities call the Rangers on 01277 211250 or the Countryside Centre on 01277 232944.