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Green door with gold details - Dedham - Beresfords Estate agents - Essex

Discover Brentwood

By The Beresfords Marketing Team - 15 June 2011

Steeped in history, Brentwood’s name evolved from the ‘burnt wood’ of the charcoal burners, set up in the forest clearings by pilgrims on their way to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Thomas à Becket. The most convenient route for many ran through Brentwood to the ferry at Tilbury. Houses sprang up in the clearings and, seven years after Becket’s death, the name of Brentwood appeared for the first time in history.

Relics of the ancient chapel built to honour the saint around 1221 can still be seen in Brentwood’s High Street, although most modern-day visitors are more interested in the surrounding shops. Following a seven million pound improvement programme, Brentwood High Street is recognised as one of the best in the County, offering major national brand names as well as a wide range of independent traders.

Just off the High Street, the sheer scale of Brentwood Cathedral may come as something as a surprise. This stunning classical structure was dedicated in 1991 following a redesign of the old Gothic cathedral and is a reflection of the area’s growing Catholic population. Brentwood also boasts a vibrant modern theatre as well as the Brentwood Centre, a large scale sports and leisure centre, which is the venue for many exhibitions and national tours.

Brentwood’s location in Green Belt land is also outstanding. Not only is it just two miles from the M25 motorway with direct train services to London Liverpool Street, it is also surrounded by open countryside and woodland, with two vast county parks at South Weald and Thorndon, perfect for picnics or for blowing away the cobwebs with a bracing walk or cycle ride.

Thorndon Hall (pictured) in Thorndon Park was completed in 1776 and is a magnificent property in the classic Palladian style. Designed by leading architect James Paine with Capability Brown overseeing the grounds (most of which are now part of Thorndon Golf Club) The house was originally built for the Petre family (see below) and it has now been reformed into luxury apartments.

Around the town, a network of quiet lanes weaves through well-kept villages with their pretty country houses and pubs offering local fare. Linger awhile in picturesque Blackmore, whose church features one of the last remaining wooden steeples in the country; strike out across open farmland and drink in the views around Mountnessing with its restored windmill; or visit Ingatestone, home to 16th century Ingatestone Hall, the ancestral seat of 18 generations of the Petre family.

Another hidden treasure is buried (literally) 80 feet below the Essex countryside at Kelvedon Hatch. The Secret Nuclear Bunker was designed to house up to 600 personnel charged with organising the population in the aftermath of a nuclear war, and makes for a fascinating, albeit chilling visit. Alternatively, those in search of lighter hearted activities can head for Old MacDonald’s, a petting farm and more, perfect for an all-weather family day out.

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