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Merrymeade Country Park
Sawyers Hall Lane
Merrymeade Country Park is managed by Brentwood Borough Council. The site is split into a number of fields, two of these being owned by Essex County Council and leased to Brentwood Borough Council and the other being owned by Brentwood Borough Council. The site is an oasis for wildlife close to the town centre and it is therefore managed primarily for nature conservation. This 34 hectare site consists of four grassland fields, scrub, a small area of woodland and wetland habitats including a pond and stream.
Responsible enjoyment of the site is valued and encouraged as it is ideal for pleasant strolls, nature watching and dog walking. For anyone wishing to visit the site pedestrian access can be gained via a public footpath off Sawyers Hall Lane, next to St Thomas of Canterbury C of E Primary School, from another public footpath off Hall Lane and also from Merrymeades Chase. Please note that there is no site car park or toilet facilities.
History - The fields at Merrymeade Country Park were recorded as pasture in 1837, although they may have been in that use for centuries before this time. In the early 20th century what is now the park may have formed part of the estate of the Horne Paine family who owned Merrymeade House which was built in 1912. The Anglia Polytechnic University was built in the 1960s and they later took over the house, gardens and other buildings.
The site as it is now - Brentwood Borough Council have improved many aspects of the park, including pond maintenance, bramble clearance and providing better access.
Grassland - Merrymeade Country Park is made up of predominately unimproved grassland. It is cut twice a year on a conservation basis with the aim being to improve the diversity of grasses and flowers found at this site.
Ponds and streams - There are a number of ponds in the middle of the site close to the public footpath. These ponds are of great importance as they are home to a population of great crested newts. The ponds are also home to a wide range of insect life including several species of damselflies and dragonflies. There is also a stream that flows through the centre of the park.
Hedgerows and scrub - There are several hedgerows that border the park and form the boundaries between fields. These fields boundaries have not changed since 1837. Large oak trees dominate the hedges, with occasional hornbeam, fields maple and hawthorn. In the field closest to Merrymeade House there are small thickets of scrub. These provide an ideal habitat for birds and small mammals.
Paths and access - There are a number of paths at this site, one of which is a public footpath running from Sawyers Hall Lane to Hall Lane. The section of the footpath which runs through the site is surfaced and is suitable for walkers, pushchairs and wheelchairs. The other paths which cross the grassland fields are flat and generally hard subject to weather conditions. There is a stretch of boardwalk in place crossing an area of the site that can become very boggy in winter. There are no stiles on site however there are a number of squeezes which have in put in place to restrict motorcycles from accessing the site.
Grasses - Heath Bedstraw, Creeping Soft-grass, Red Fescue.
Flowers - Lady's Smock, Pignut, Devil's-bit Scabious.
Butterflies - Essex Skipper, Meadow Brown.
Insects - Roesel's Bush Cricket.
Amphibians - Great Crested Newts.
Please follow the link for information on the Brentwood Countryside Management Volunteers who carryout practical improvements to the site.