by Susan Yates


I am sure that we are all aware of listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments but how many people know there is an equivalent for parks. Thurrock has one Registered Park that is Belhus Park, located between Kenningtons Estate on its western boundary, Aveley village on its southern boundary, the Belhus Estate on its Eastern boundary and Belhus Woods Country Park on its northern boundary. It was much bigger than it is now as the Kennington Estate formed part of the park with the land to the south of Shannon Way being parkland and the land on the north side being farm land.

The Park was created by the Barrett-Lennard family, owners of the Manor from 1401 to 1923. The park as we know it today came in to being in the time of Edward Barrett. In 1618 he obtained a licence to create a park. The beautiful estate map of 1619, which is in Essex Record Office, shows an elaborate parterre garden. A parterre garden is a garden occupied by an ornamental arrangement of flower beds. It also featured a wilderness and a rock garden. Edward was very successful in his chosen career but still found time to add the farms of Courts and Kenningtons to his estate.


In December 1618 Edward was granted by the Crown the Right of Free Warren. This is a royal franchise granted to a manorial lord allowing the holder to hunt small game (rabbit, hare, pheasant and partridge) within a designated area. Edward restocked the park with 300 deer making it one of the finest herds of deer in the country. The park was also stocked with Herons which can still be seen in the area today, and these were hunted by the Goshawks and the Peregrine Falcons.

The park and house then became neglected and it wasn’t until Lord Dacre inherited the estate and employed Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown to landscape the parkland between 1753 and 1763 that further improvements were made in the form of planting The Shrubbery on the western boundary, which still exists today. This was Brown’s first job in Essex. In 2020 the majority of the park is turned over to a public golf course. Long term local residents will tell you it is still possible to recognise some of the ‘Capability’ Brown plantings that adorn the golf course. Brown received over �650 for his work here. Lord Dacre did have plans for a water feature which had to be shelved because of lack of finances however he did employ Richard Woods who it is said designed the Long Pond for �175 in 1770/71.

Today the Long Pond is split in two by the M25. The eastern most section is surrounded by the Ash Plantation and the Oak Plantation. Just west of the northern most part of the Long Pond is the Stench Pole which is Grade II listed. It is a tall octagonal Tudor style chimney of red brick with black dressings in an elaborate pattern.

At the end of Irvine Gardens and forming part of the current eastern boundary is the Kitchen Garden Walls built in 1744 and Grade II listed. Standing north west of the old kitchen garden walls are the woods where we find the remains of the mid 18th century Ice House which was probably constructed during the time ‘Capability’ Brown was landscaping the park.

At the end of the 19th century the park had 7 acres of water, several small ponds, oak, elm, lime and beech trees. The park at this time consisted of 300 acres with 100 fallow deer as well as horses, cattle and sheep.

The park is now a golf course, has a swimming pool and fitness centre as well as several football pitches and large open areas and plenty of woodlands. In 2015/6 a part of the park was sold to Aveley Football Club for their new football ground. This replaced the area once used by Thurrock Model Airplane Club. The park is still well used especially during the current virus lockdown.