Geophysical Survey at Belhus Park


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A geophysical survey of Belhus Park by Historic England was undertaken in March 2021. Impressive images show that the layout of the Elizabethan and Jacobean gardens at Belhus survived when the gardens were replaced with a "Capability" Brown landscape park and are now under the golf course.

The images were obtained from ground penetrating radar and LIDAR from a drone.

Comparison of the results with a 1619 map of Belhus Park in the Essex Record Office and with a 300 year old painting in Thurrock Museum have confirmed research by TLHS member Phil Lobley.


Historic England Senior Archaeological Investigator Sarah Newsome conducting analytical earthwork survey at Belhus Park Golf Course. Image copyright Historic England

Belhus Mansion Painting, c1710 unknown artist in the style of Jan Siberechts with permission from Thurrock Museum. Image copyright Thurrock Museum

Phil has been researching Belhus for many years and discovered an earlier map of Belhus in the Northants Record Office. This map had not previously been known about by Thurrock Historians.

In 2020, he was a volunteer on the Designed Landscapes project which was organised by the Land of the Fanns. He spotted the hint of a circular garden feature on satellite images and and noted a slight depression during a site visit. These appeared to match features on the map and in the painting.

The results of the Designed Landscapes project were published in 2020 as 50 Fabulous Features. The subsequent survey by Historic England has produced images confirming his research.

With this new insight, the key organisations will join forces to protect and restore this historic landscape, which has been on the Heritage at Risk Register since 2018.

Historic England have pointed out that the historic garden features lie within part of the live golf course where there is no public access, and many of the remains cannot be seen easily from the ground.  It is hoped that there will be future opportunities for community engagement, volunteering, exploring and enjoying this fascinating place.

Historic England will now be working in partnership with Impulse Leisure who operate the golf course, Thurrock Council, The Woodland Trust, Essex County Council, the Thames Chase Trust and other partners to ensure the conservation of this important historic setting and work towards the removal of Belhus Park from Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register.

For more information about the historic landscape of Belhus Park, interested parties should go to the Capability Brown Clubhouse at the Belhus Park Golf Course before accessing the private site.

 

Extract of the Ground Penetrating Radar survey (left) showing the survival of the historic garden features at a depth of 0.6m (image copyright Historic England) compared to a contemporary painting (right) showing the gardens c1710 (image copyright permission of Thurrock Museum).

There is more about the historic park at Belhus in an article by Susan Yates.

The Historic England web site has the full survey report.

The Land of the Fanns we site has the Fifty Fabulous Features report.

Return to top This page last updated on 10/07/2021