Shenfield Common is an area of common land which is managed by the Shenfield Common Conservators. The 13 hectare site is located close to Brentwood town centre, between Seven Arches Road and Ingrave Road. The common has a diverse range of habitats, including ponds, grassland and woodland, and is currently managed for the benefit of wildlife and nature conservation whilst allowing for informal public access.
Shenfield Common consultation
The Conservators of Shenfield Common have plans for extensive tree clearance along paths and rides on Shenfield Common. Clearing the trees will enhance the features of the common such as the lime tree avenue, woodland pond, woodland diversity, remove sycamore and improve the ground flora.
In August 2021, Brentwood Borough Council and the Conservators of Shenfield Common held an open session to give residents the opportunity to see what work is being proposed to the common, as agreed under the management plan at the Shenfield Conservators meeting earlier this year.
The scheme will create a new aspect to the landscape, encouraging residents to wander and enjoy the surroundings. We hope to make the common woodland less threatening to residents and improve visibility by allowing light to the common woodland pond.
The Conservators aim to improve the woodland area by opening it up and to create a safer environment:
- Formalising the informal path from Ingrave Road to connect it to the path through the avenue of lime trees planted in the 1890s, thereby creating a continuous central path through the wooded area to the open grassland to the north and pond.
- Clearance of 5m-10m either side of the path, clearing undergrowth and coppicing where necessary.
- Removal of extensive growth of holly from the southern section of the path to improve sight lines
The consultation also sought to gather names and contact details from those people attending who might like to volunteer or form a group under the leadership as Conservators to become ‘Friends of Shenfield Common’. Group members will be able to run some of their own events in terms of clearance or other upcoming volunteering projects. To register your interest, please email the Conservators of Shenfield Common c/o firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, please see the Conservators of Shenfield Common's plans: Shenfield Common Management Plan 2020-2030 pdf
History - William the Conqueror apparently allocated the land to Geffery de Mandeville and records in the Domesday Book give the area the name Chenefield, a Saxon name meaning 'good lands'. There have been a variety of owners since that time and in the mid-nineteenth century, various areas were sold off. Sections of the woodland were then cleared for pasture and the pond was used for milling purposes. The arrival of the railway in the 1840's resulted in big landscape changes on the Common with excavated soil being deposited on the land. In 1881, commoners' rights over the common were extinguished so that the site could be made into a public park for all to enjoy. Four oak trees on the grassland area of the common were planted by four Parish Chairs in 1900 to commemorate the coming of the 20th Century and the avenue of lime trees through the centre of the woodland were planted in 1895 to give work to the unemployed. The trees that line Seven Arches Road were planted in 1901 by the young people of Brentwood to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII. A bandstand once stood on the common which enabled local residents to hear the military bands based at the Warley Barracks.
The site as it is now - Work has been undertaken to improve many aspects of the site, including carrying out pond works, sycamore clearance, improving access and maintaining ditch systems.
Grassland - The main area of grassland across the site is maintained as a formal amenity area, thus providing recreational space and keeping the overall urban feel of the northern part of the common.
Woodland - The common is now largely wooded. There are many desire lines running through the woodland which enable informal public access. There are small areas of scrub on the common, mainly in the woodland margins, and this habitat is very valuable for wildlife.
Ponds - There are two ponds on the common. The first pond, set within the formal grassland, is known as Mill Pond. It provides habitats for birds and ducks, invertebrates and dragonflies. The second pond is situated further into the woodland area.