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. 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.
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.