A weekend in Brentwood
PUBLISHED: 16:59 11 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:32 20 February 2013
Don't let the January freeze get you down. Take a winter break on your doorstep <br/><br/>and discover why Brentwood has so much to offer. Jo Jarvis reports
A weekend in Brentwood
Dont let the January blues get you down.Take a winter break on your doorstep and discover why Brentwood has so much to offer.
Jo Jarvis reports
BRENTWOOD offers the best of both worlds. Not only is it surrounded by open countryside and acres of fabulous woodland, the town is also less than 20 miles from the urban attractions of London.
Visitors to Brentwood will find plenty to keep them entertained in this popular spot, with a good mix of shops, schools, leisure facilities, parks and buildings of historical interest. Brentwood caters for all ages and all interests, from the most active to those who would prefer to sit back
Brentwood began as a small clearing in the middle of a forest which had been created by fire, giving the settlement its name of Burntwood. A few people began to settle there and, because it was on the crossroads of the old Roman road from Colchester to London, it grew into a small town. In 1227 Henry III granted a market charter and this helped the town to continue to prosper. In particular, the growth of the wool trade and cloth industry contributed to the development of the town.
More unusually, Brentwood can thank the murder and canonisation of Thomas Becket in the 12th century for its increased popularity as it became a common stop for pilgrims travelling through the town en route to his shrine in Canterbury. This subsequently led to a chapel being built in Brentwood towards the end of the 12th century, dedicated to Becket.
The town blossomed once again in 1840 with the arrival of the railways which made it easier for people to travel into London. As a result, more houses were built around the station and Brentwoods population grew. Modern Brentwood, however, did not begin to appear until 1899 following the development of an Urban District Council. Since then Brentwood has grown considerably and the Borough of Brentwood now has a population of around 75,000 people and nine parishes (Ingatestone and Fryerning, Mountnessing, Doddinghurst, Blackmore, Hook End and Wyatts Green, Navestock, Kelvedon Hatch and Stondon Massey).
A stroll down the High Street of Brentwood today reveals a contemporary retail centre with a vibrant mix of big-name brands and quaint independent retailers. If you feel the call of the January sales, you will be spoilt for choice with this excellent selection of shops on the newly-enhanced High Street or in Brentwood Town Centre, a shopping centre that caters for the whole family with a variety of stores, food courts and a kids club.
Alternatively, escape the hustle and bustle of the town centre with a visit to one of Brentwoods many green spaces such as Thriftwood or Thorndon Country Park, which has an ancient deer park dating back to the 15th century.
To follow the towns history in more detail visit Brentwood Museum in Warley, which is housed in a 19th century building and offers a fascinating insight into Brentwoods past with an exciting collection of social and domestic exhibits.
But Brentwood is a living testament to its own heritage and a leisurely walk exploring the towns surrounding parishes or the historic centre itself, which has three designated Conservation Areas including several listed buildings and the ancient monument of the St Thomas a Becket Chapel, is an afternoon well-spent. No matter what youre looking for, there is no doubt that you will find it in Brentwood.