Size:

55.44 ha (136.99 acres)

Grid reference:

TQ569819

Map reference:

Explorer 175

OS Landranger 177

A new woodland, rich in history, Belhus Chase and neighbouring Gurnett’s Fields are part of the Thames Chase Community Forest which is transforming the landscape to the east of London.

They are also connected to the area’s fascinating heritage as part of the grand Belhus Estate, and the woods’ planting scheme echoes the style of the estate’s Capability Brown landscaping.

Features

  • Parking nearby
  • Public access
  • Grassland

How to get to Belhus Chase

Belhus Chase and Gurnett’s Fields are a short distance from the village of Aveley in Essex, close to the motorway and the outskirts of South Ockendon. The nearest motorway exit is junction 30.

From junction 30 of the M25, take the A13 east. At the first exit, take the A1306 north towards Rainham. At the next junction, go right onto Sandy Lane (B1335) and continue on to a roundabout and turn left. The woods are about 2km (1.3 miles) further on, on the right.

The nearest train station is in Upminster, about 4.6km (3 miles) from the wood.

Visit National Rail for more information.

The nearest bus stop is on Usk Road, around 0.6 kilometres (0.4 miles) from the wood.

Visit Traveline for more information.

Facilities and access

The woods provide a network of paths that link to neighbouring open spaces, however there are wet ground conditions for much of the year and access can be difficult. The Country Park has two stroller vehicles for hire from the Visitor Centre.

With the help of the volunteer group Friends of Belhus Park, a circular, waymarked trail has been created that guides visitors around the old park.

The main entrance is off Romford Road.

There is no car park on site, but paid parking is available in nearby Belhus Woods Country Park.

There are public toilets with disabled and baby changing facilities available at Belhus Woods Country Park.

Wildlife and habitats

Animals

Look out for rabbits along the woodland edge and the silver-washed fritillary in sunny glades or listen out for the sound of the field vole chirruping loudly. There are so many opportunities to discover wildlife in Belhus Chase and Gurnett’s Field.

Look out for:

Trees, plants and fungi

There is a wealth of plant life in Belhus Chase and Gurnett’s Field, including a wide range of native and conifer trees and ground flora, such as magnificent bluebells and stunning early purple orchid.

Look out for:

Habitats

With a mixture of wet woodland, grassland and broadleaved woodland, this pair of new woods has a variety of habitats to discover.

Explore:

We acquired Belhus Chase in 1998 with help from Hanson Environment and the Countryside Agency. 

We acquired Gurnett's Field in 1998 on a long lease. It had been farmland and we planted it with local people as part of the Woods on Your Doorstep oroject.

About Belhus Chase

The Manor of Belhus

Belhus Chase and Gurnett’s Fields were both parts of the Belhus Estate’s landscaped park which surrounded the manor house which once stood nearby.

In 1618, Sir Edward Barrett obtained permission to make a park around the manor known as Belhus House, and approximately 40 years later Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was commissioned to make further alterations.

Old Manor, Belhus Chase, demolished 1957 due to wartime damage

Credit: lostheritage.org.uk / WTML

Parts of the estate were sold in the 1920s, and after its requisition for the war effort during the Second World War, the house was demolished as the owners could not repair damage done by troops stationed there.

Remnants of Belhus Estate can be seen throughout the former parkland, including an 18th century brick-lined well used to store ice. The foundations of the house can be seen on the Belhus Park Golf Club’s course.

Be sure to look out for the Tudor-style ‘stench pipe’. It was a vent from Belhus House’s sewerage system and was disguised to look like an old chimney.

Things to do at Belhus Chase

Walking

Belhus Chase and the surrounding areas are brilliant for walkers. Whether it’s a short meander around Belhus Chase or a long walk from the woods to the country park and surrounding wooded areas, there are many paths available with lots to see along the way.

Golf

Why not tie in a visit to the woods with a round of golf? Belhus Park Golf and Country Club has an established 18-hole golf course, spread over 18.5 hectares (46 acres) of parkland.

Visit Belhus Park Golf and Country Club for more information.

Belhus Chase - Management plan

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Belhus Chase Management Plan

PDF  (133 KB)