M25 Belhus Park
Post to the north Brick Kiln Wood
Post to the south Ockendon Junction 30
Ash Plantation is an integral part of Thames Chase Community Forest. It was part of the original landscape garden of Belhus House designed in the 18th by Richard Woods and Lancelot “Capability” Brown.
Belhus – the names comes from 14th tenants who are said to have come from Ramsden Bellhouse. By the early 15th the Barrett family had inherited a share of the estate and by the mid 17th had built up a large estate. John Barrett rebuilt Belhus House in the early 16th and in 1618 Edward Barrett obtained a license for a park. Thomas Barrett-Lennard, Lord Dacre, made improvements 1744 – 1777 and Lancelot Brown was commissioned to remodel the grounds. In 1923 Thomas Barrett Lennard, who lived elsewhere, dispersed the contents of the house. After the Second World War the park was bought by Essex County Council and developed as a recreation centre, with swimming pool, gym, and golf course. It remains in local authority ownership.
Gardens. In the mid 17th there were elaborate enclosed formal gardens with a wilderness, rock garden, and palisado garden. These were modernised by Brown for Lord Dacre from 1753, when The Shrubbery was planted. The pleasure grounds were removed in the 20th for the recreational facilities, leaving only the unmanaged remains of Brown's Shrubbery along the western boundary of the park
Park. The park is grassed and managed for a variety of sporting uses with late 20th buildings associated them. Some mature park trees survive as do some woodlands. In 1890 the park maintained a herd of 100 deer and had the ‘ancient and uncommon’ right of free warren.
House. This was a substantial house built round a courtyard around 1520. The gatehouse was demolished in 1710. From around 1744 it was 'gothic-ised' between 1744-1777 with a new entrance front and hall and many pointed gothic arches. After 1919 the house was not used and began to be damp and the contents were sold in the 1920s. In the Second World War there was some bomb damage and troops stationed there used some of the panelling and the oak floorboards for firewood. The cost of repairs could not be met. A faint outline of the foundations can be seen in the middle of the golf course. Some of the 16th panelling is at Valance House Museum and other fittings are in Thurrock Museum.
Stables. These were from the 16th with an 18th clock and chimneys. Falcons were probably kept here in the 19th
Pets’ cemetery. This was set up for Sir Thomas Barrett-Lennard in the 1850s. He kept numerous dogs, cats and other animals who were buried there including his horses. This is said to be north west of the site of the house.
Golf Course. The central section of the grounds is laid out as a golf course and contains bunkers with 20th shrub and tree planting. Within this area there are two mounds which survive from the 18th landscaping scheme.
Leisure Centre. Clubhouse is the Capability Brown. There is also a leisure centre with various swimming and ‘fitness’ activities available at a cost. These are in two bleak brick boxes in the middle of a vast car park in Park Drive.
Dilkes Primary School. This school is now an ’academy’. It was originally an Essex Ccounty junior and infants’ schools named after the adjacent wood. The junior school was opened in 1952; the infants school was opened in 1953
The Archer. Brick built estate pub with large car park. Includes function room.
Extensive greens with trees a and a large prominent electrical Sub station
Gate to Oak and Ash Plantations
Gate and paths into Belhus Park
Gate and paths into Belhus Park
Kitchen Garden. The garden walls here were built in 1744 for Lord Dacre in brick with recessed panels.
Icehouse. This dates from the mid 18th and is beyond the north wall of the kitchen garden, in the north-east corner of the park. The well remains excavated in 1979.
Lord Dacre and Brown’s plans for a piece of water were too expensive and in 1770 then Long Pond was created from an existing canal. It provides a unique habitat for wildlife species and forms a focal point for the woodland. This area is rich in wildlife and supports tree species such as Turkey Oak, Wild Cherry, Black Poplar, London Plane, Common Lime and Aspen.
The ground is generally level, with the M25 sunk into a cutting which runs north/south through the eastern half of the park, isolating the woodland areas from the open parkland.
Footbridge. This spans the motorway and links the site with Belhus Chase, Belhus Park and Bellhus Woods Country Park
Oak Wood is an integral part of Thames Chase Community Forest. It was part of the original landscape garden of Belhus House designed in the 18th by Richard Woods and Lancelot “Capability” Brown.
This appears to follow the line of a drive to the house. It goes to the clubhouse and sports centre
Behus Park Golf Club. Web site.
British History online. Web site
Dilkes Academy. Web site
Historic England. Web site
Lost Heritage. Web site
Thurrock Council. Web site
Whittaker. Deer Parks and Paddocks of England
Woodland Trust. Web site