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Havering Country Park Havering

Summary

Havering Country Park was formerly part of Havering Park, itself part of the estate of the medieval Royal Palace of Havering. Its long royal history commenced in 1066 when William the Conqueror decided to keep the manor of Havering for himself, and in 1638 Charles I was the last monarch to rest at Havering. During the Civil War the Palace was abandoned and by 1816 there was no trace of it. In 1828 the McIntosh family bought the manor and built a house, laying out a park, gardens and pleasure grounds. Leading up to the house was an avenue of Wellingtonia trees, which remains as the second largest plantation in the country. The estate was broken up after Mrs Charlotte McIntosh's death and the house demolished in 1925, although some C19th planting survives. Part was sold off in 1-acre plots, known as the Plotlands, which were popular from the 1920s-1940s, many bought by East Enders as a retreat from the inner city. In 1970 the GLC was instrumental in a Compulsory Purchase Order to clear the Plotlands for a regional public park but it was not until 1976 that the area was opened as Havering Country Park.

Basic Details

Previous / Other name:
Havering Park

Site location:
off Orange Tree Hill/Pinewood Road, Havering Atte Bower

Postcode:
RM4 ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Public Park

Date(s):
C17th; C19th (McIntosh landscaping); C20th

Designer(s):

Listed structures:
None

Borough:
Havering

Site ownership:
LB Havering

Site management:
Parks and Open Spaces

Open to public?
Yes

Opening times:
unrestricted (car park: daily 8am to half an hour after sunset)

Special conditions:

Facilities:
Car park, toilets, picnic areas. Tree Trail, bridlepaths

Events:
numerous throughout year, including People's Picnic in August, Easter Egg hunts, guided walks

Public transport:
Rail: Romford then bus. Bus: 294, 365, 375, 575

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/09/2009
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.havering.gov.uk

Further Information

Grid ref:
TQ504928

Size in hectares:
67

Green Flag:
No

On EH National Register :
No

EH grade:
None

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
No

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
Yes

In Conservation Area:
No

Tree Preservation Order:
Not known

Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Metropolitan Importance

Green Belt:
Yes

Metropolitan Open Land:
No

Special Policy Area:
Yes - Havering Ridge Area of Special Character

Other LA designation:
None

Fuller information

Havering Country Park was formerly part of Havering Park, itself part of the estate of the medieval Royal Palace of Havering which was abandoned in the C17th. Its royal history commenced in 1066 when William the Conqueror decided to keep the manor of Havering for himself and the Palace received many royal visits over the years. Henry II’s and Henry III’s records frequently refer to building repairs and upkeep of the park, including the construction of a bath for the king in 1215. Henry II visited at least 20 times between 1222 and 1272, implementing numerous improvements, such as special glass windows fitted in the Queen’s chamber in 1251, a luxury at the time, and by 1263 the walls had been repainted and the chapel rebuilt. Edward III visited the manor more often than any other monarch and Richard II came to Havering Palace after the successful suppression of the 1381 Peasants Revolt. Henry IV and Henry VI also stayed there and indeed Henry IV’s wife, Joan of Navarre was reported to have died at the Palace. The importance placed on the royal manor led to Havering’s Royal Liberty as first set out in the Charter granted by Edward IV in 1465, which allowed local people certain privileges, exemption from certain taxes and the power to conduct their own courts. Henry VIII was reported to have hunted and entertained French hostages in Havering, contemporary records declaring that ‘the King lying there, did shoot, hunt and run with the hostages to their great joy’. Catherine of Aragon, Ann Boleyn and Jane Seymour all held the manor of Havering while they were queens to Henry’s king and the sickly Prince Edward, later Edward VI, was nursed there. Elizabeth I frequently stayed with her Privy Councillors. Her leading minister, Lord Burghley, ordered a plan of the palace in 1576 which is still in existence. In 1588, on the eve of the Spanish Armada, the Earl of Leicester advised her to ‘withdraw yourself to your house at Havering’.

In 1638 Charles I was the last monarch to rest at Havering and during the Civil War the Palace was abandoned and fell into ruin. A survey of the King’s property in 1650 described Havering Palace as ‘a confused heap of ruinous decayed buildings whose materials of lead, glass, brick, tile, timber and stone [were] valued at £480, this did not include the cost of salvaging them’. In 1764 only one part of the Palace walls remained, and by 1816 there was no trace of where it had stood.

In 1828 the McIntosh family bought the manor from the Crown and built an Italianate house on the site of the old Palace and laid out a park of some 250 acres. An avenue of Wellingtonia trees was planted leading up to the house. These trees, also known as Giant Sequoia, were very fashionable at the time, having been discovered during the Californian Gold Rush of 1850 and named in honour of the Duke of Wellington. Havering Park still has the second largest plantation of Wellingtonia in England, totalling 100 trees. In June 1909 Mrs Charlotte McIntosh’s ‘delightful’ residence at Havering Park was the subject of a detailed article in The Gardeners Chronicle, which described not only the 400 acre park but the gardens and large pleasure grounds where she grew a wide variety of plants; ‘a striking novelty, especially for this part of Essex is a large portion set apart for the cultivation of the hardy Ericas’. The article makes special mention of the four vineries, extensive fruit garden, and numerous glass houses devoted to different species including roses, carnations, ferns and rhododendrons, as well as the large conservatory adjoining the house ‘in the centre of which was a very fine plant of Kentia Bemoreana, fully 30 feet high, and many other fine Palms’. Sadly this is no longer in evidence as upon her death the McIntosh mansion fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1925. However, the majority of the trees planted by the family remain in Havering Park today with coniferous species surviving from the C19th planting close to the site of the former house. A length of high red brick boundary wall from the former walled garden is also extant as are traces of a stone platform or viewing terrace overlooking the prospect to the east situated to the west of the present church hall in Havering-atte-Bower.

After the death of Mrs McIntosh the estate was carved up piecemeal, part of it being sold off in one-acre plots at around £30 each that became known as the Plotlands. These plots were along Wellingtonia Avenue and Pinewood Road and were extremely popular from the 1920s to 1940s. Many of them were initially bought by East Enders as a welcome retreat from the inner city who ‘visited their plots at weekends, staying in tents and slowly building their own bungalows. Some moved in permanently.’ Two of the old bungalows still exist, one of which serves as the Park Office. In 1970 the Greater London Council, much to the displeasure and outrage of local people, was behind a Compulsory Purchase Order to clear out the Plotlands in order to create a regional public park following recommendations in the Abercrombie Report to restore Havering Ridge to its former beauty. This proved a lengthy process facing much opposition, and it was not until 1976 that the area was opened as Havering Country Park. In 1986 Havering Council acquired the site from the GLC and developed it further as a 165-acre country park, maintained as natural woodland and meadowland, which represents the western portion of the original estate. There is also evidence of Roman remains in the park. A cache of coins found suggests the existence of a Roman villa, and a of group cremation sites and gullies implies early industrial activity. It is possible that the very straight Clockhouse Lane was the route of a Roman road.

Sources consulted:

Havering-atte-Bower, Sylvia Bates, 1989; Havering Country Park leaflets; Gardeners' Chronicle ii, 1893; Gardeners' Chronicle i 26/6/1909.

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