Size:

54.33 ha (134.25 acres)

Grid reference:

TQ620905

Map reference:

Explorer 175

OS Landranger 177

This mosaic of new and mature woodland, open grassland, wood pasture and wetland was once part of the historic Thorndon Estate. Today, it links the north and south sections of Thorndon Country Park.

The combination of lovely woodland and the council's visitor centre, ponds and Gruffalo Trail makes for a great family day out!

Features

  • Parking nearby
  • Public access
  • Grassland

How to get to The Old Park

The Old Park lies 3.2km (2 miles) south of Brentwood in Essex, and 5km (3 miles) east of the M25. The site forms 54.3 hectares (134.3 acres) of Thames Chase Community Forest.

From the M25, take junction 28 towards Brentwood and Romford and follow until you reach Brentwood High Street.

From Brentwood High Street (A1023), turn south onto the A128 towards Ingrave. Turn right after the railway crossing, following signs to Thorndon Country Park North or South.

Brentwood Station is around 4.8km (3 miles) from Thorndon North Countryside Centre.

Visit National Rail for more information.

The closest bus stops are at Eagle Way, Warley. This is a 23-minute walk from Thorndon North Countryside Centre.

Visit Traveline for more information.

Facilities and access

The Old Park can be reached by public footpaths from Ingrave and from both the Thorndon Country Park sites. As it is within the park, it is subject to Thorndon’s opening times: 8am until dusk.

Both surfaced and unsurfaced footpaths cross the site. The two primary surfaced, multi-user tracks run along the north-east and part of the south-west boundary. Numerous pedestrian footpaths cross the extensive grazed areas and link to a network of wooden kissing gates to allow access through the cattle-proof fencing.

Wheelchair access is only possible in the summer when the paths are dry. A four-wheeled battery-powered scooter is available through the Parkmobility scheme from Thorndon North Countryside Centre (pre-book through Essex Wildlife Trust on 01277 232944).

There is pay and display parking at both Thorndon Country Park North and South entrances.

There are toilets with disabled facilities at Thorndon North Countryside Centre and South Pavilion. There are also toilets in Brentwood’s high street.

Wildlife and habitats

Animals

Look out for signs of foxes and badgers, and for tiny, flame-headed firecrests flitting through the undergrowth, flocks of noisy blue tits, and the redpoll, which likes to feed hanging upside down from branches. In summer, colourful butterflies bask in the grassy areas, and the wood’s wide range of beetle species make it perfect for a minibeast hunt.

Look out for:

Trees, plants and fungi

Despite its name, The Old Park is now mostly young woodland. Until the early 20th century, it was part of the rolling parkland of a grand estate. The land was converted to farmland and only a few of the original trees remain, including some stately veteran oaks. We have planted 25,000 broadleaved trees to restore the parkland and traditional woodland.

Look out for:

Habitats

The patchwork of habitats at The Old Park makes it an important space for local wildlife, as well as a great woodland to explore.

Explore:

In 1992 we purchased the section now known as The Old Park, with help from the Countryside Commission, Essex County Council, Brentwood District Council, Barclays Bank plc and donations from local people.

About The Old Park

History

The Old Park forms part of Thorndon Country Park. The park was first enclosed and a brick lodge built in 1412. In the 16th century, the estate passed into the ownership of the Petre family, who made their own mark on the building and landscaping.

In the second half of the 18th century, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was commissioned to bring the park up to date with his innovative landscape design.

In 1878, the main building was almost completely destroyed by fire and in 1919, following the early death of the 16th Lord Petre, the family began to dispose of Thorndon, and 97 hectares (240 acres) of the park to the south was sold to Thorndon Park Golf Club. Much of the rest was acquired by Essex County Council in 1939 and 1951.

The land had been farmed since the early 20th century and felling of the parkland trees began in the late 1940s. Thorndon Country Park was opened in 1971 and the ruined hall was converted to private flats in 1975.

Things to do in The Old Park

Thorndon Country Park

There is a lot to do in the wider Thorndon Country Park. Not only are there lovely grassy paths linking the woodland in Thorndon North, there are also cycle and horse trails as well as the famous Gruffalo Trail for younger adventurers to explore.

There's also a fishing pond, dog activity trail and orienteering courses on site. 

The Old Park - Management plan

Download

The Old Park Management Plan

PDF  (155 KB)