Brentwood, Essex

infobox UK place
official_name= Brentwood
country = England
region= East of England
population = 44,800
os_grid_reference= TQ595938
post_town= BRENTWOOD
postcode_area= CM
postcode_district= CM14
postcode_district1= CM15
dial_code= 01277
constituency_westminster= Brentwood and Ongar
london_distance= 20 miles (30 km)
shire_district= Brentwood
shire_county= Essex
latitude= 51.620355
longitude= 0.305006

Brentwood is a town and the principal settlement of the Borough of Brentwood, part of Essex in England. [ [ Brentwood Borough Council] - About Brentwood] It is located in the London commuter belt, 20 miles (30 km) east north-east of Charing Cross in London and near to the M25 motorway.

Brentwood is a suburban town with a small, but expanding, [ [ Brentwood Replacement Local Plan] ] shopping area and high street. Beyond this is extensive sprawling residential development entirely surrounded by open countryside and woodland; some penetrating to within only a few hundred yards of the town centre. It is perhaps most widely known for Brentwood School and for several businesses based in the town. Brentwood is home to many British celebrities, most notably Jodie Marsh, Chantelle Houghton , [Billy Murray (actor)|Billy Murray] and [Frank Lampard] .


Several notable businesses are located in Brentwood. The Ford Motor Company UK headquarters are located in the nearby suburb of Warley and SOSS hinge manufacturers NV Tools are still based here. The headquarters of Amstrad are also located in Brentwood, despite TV show The Apprentice using overhead views of One Canada Square and the Canary Wharf business complex in London as an accompaniment to interior shots of the Amstrad offices. Countryside Properties, the property developer, also have a substantial HQ in the town.

Well known businesses that used to operate in the town include Thermos, the famous vacuum flask manufacturer, and Nissen whose UK factory and HQ were established in the town by Ted Blake in the mid-1960's but eventually shut down in the 1980s.



The name derives from a corruption of the words 'Burnt Wood', with the name Burntwood still visible on some old maps. The old name describes the presumed reason for settlement in the part of the Forest of Essex (later Epping Forest) that would have covered the area.

Early history

Although a Bronze Age axe has been found in Brentwood and there are clear signs of an entrenched encampment in Weald Country Park it is considered unlikely that there was any significant early settlement of the area which was originally covered by the Great Forest covering most of Essex at that time. Rather it is believed that despite the Roman Road between London and Colchester passing through, the Saxons were the earliest settlers of the area. []

Robert Graves in his book I, Claudius refers to Brentwood as the site of the battle where Claudius defeated the Ancient Britons in 44AD. However, Graves also states that names and places in the book are sometimes fictitious.

Brentwood is the site of the 12th century ruin of Thomas à Becket Chapel, and was a popular stopping point for pilgrims on their way to Canterbury. Indeed, one local village is called Pilgrims Hatch, which means 'Pilgrims Gate'. The ruin stands in the centre of the High Street, next to the tourist information office, and the nearby parish church of Brentwood retains the dedication to St Thomas of Canterbury. [ [ Anglican Parish of St Thomas of Canterbury] ]

During the Peasants' Revolt (1381), Brentwood was the meeting place for some of the instigators; such as John Ball and Jack Straw. They, apparently, met regularly in local pubs and inns. The Essex assizes were sometimes held here, as well as at Chelmsford. One such pub is the White Hart (now known as the Sugar Hut and showing little of its original historic interest), which is one of the oldest buildings in Brentwood; it is believed to have been built in 1480 although apocryphal evidence suggests a hostelry might have stood on the site as much as a 100 years earlier and been visited in 1392 by Richard II whose coat of arms included a White Hart.

The "Brentwood Ring", the earliest Christian ring ever to have been discovered in Britain was found in Brentwood in the late 1940s. It now resides at the British Museum in London. The only other ring of its type in existence can be found at the Vatican Museum. [Antiquaries Journal Volume 65 (1985) 'A Roman Christian ring from Brentwood, Essex' pgs. 461-463]

Modern history

Brentwood originated as an ancient parish of 460 acres (1.86 km²). In 1891 the population was 4,949. [ [ Vision of Britain] - Brentwood: Total Population] Under the Local Government Act 1894, the Brentwood parish formed part of the Billericay Rural District of Essex. In 1899 the parish was removed from the rural district and formed the Brentwood Urban District. In 1934 the parish and district were enlarged by gaining Hutton, Ingrave and South Weald. [ [ Vision of Britain] - Parish boundaries with 1934 enlargement shown] The district was abolished in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972 and Brentwood became part of a further enlarged Brentwood district, which in 1993 gained borough status.

In 1917, the parish church was awarded cathedral status, then between 1989 and 1991 the building was modified to appear in an Italianate Classical style. Brentwood Cathedral is currently the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Brentwood.

Brentwood was the location of Warley Hospital, a Mental Institution, from 1853 to 2001. A British East India Company elephant training school was based in Brentwood and this remained an active Army base as a depot for the Essex Regiment until 1959, [] when much of the site was redeveloped as the European HQ for Ford. A few buildings remain from the Barracks - the regimental chapel, the gymnasium (now being a council-owned public hall called Keys Hall) and the officers mess (now Marillac Hospital).

Bored town

Brentwood gained some notoriety and national attention in the 1990s as the most boring town in Britain. The controversy was initially caused by David McClucky, the manager of Brentwood Theatre, who, while being interviewed by a local reporter, said it was "hard to pick something interesting about Brentwood" to celebrate in the upcoming Brentwood Festival (a now-defunct parade and street festival). He later claimed he meant it was hard to pick from the many interesting historical events in Brentwood's history. [Interview in Brentwood Gazzette - 1998] The amusing trivia that 'Bored town' is an anagram of Brentwood just fueled the fire in the press.

Local government and politics

Brentwood forms part of the larger borough of Brentwood of Essex which also encompasses the surrounding smaller towns and villages. It is located in the East of England region of the United Kingdom. For elections to Westminster, Brentwood forms part of the Brentwood and Ongar constituency.

Arts and media

The "Brentwood Theatre" and "The Hermit" are the main cultural buildings in Brentwood; located on the same site. The theatre is operated without subsidy by Mark Reed and David Zelly. The Hermitage is used a the centre for Brentwood Youth Service, with which the theatre is also involved.

The youth service operates its own cafe, youth club and a live music venue called "The Hermit", which has had bands such as Motörhead and InMe play there. InMe were heavily supported in their early years by the venue, whose purpose is to promote and encourage youth bands. It also plays host to private events such as a weekly Jazz Club that was, until his death, run by the saxophonist Spike Robinson. Both venues co-host the Brentwood Blues Festival, a music event that has played host to the Blockheads and Bill Wyman.

The town is served by a community radio station, Phoenix FM. The station was formed in August 1996 and broadcast ten trial broadcasts under a Restricted Service Licence, each lasting 28 days; the first starting on 29 December 1996 and the last ending on 25 February 2006. On 23 March 2007, the station started to broadcast permanently on 98.0 FM.

Brentwood is also home to the Royal British Legion Youth Band Brentwood, which perform at many events throughout the year, including the military tattoo at Haileybury and Swanage Carnival. It is a very successful band and attracts youngsters from the age of eight from around Brentwood and surrounding areas. It was the first British band to ever take part in the 'Tournament of Roses Parade', Pasadena. It meets twice a week in Warley. []

The town is the venue of the Brentwood International Chess Congress which was set up in 2006 and first ran 17 February-18 February 2007. The Congress attracted 231 competitors who included three Grandmasters and five International Masters. The prize fund is quite generous in comparison to many other similar congresses being around £4000. In 2007 it was the largest chess competition to be held in Essex and it was organised by [ Brentwood Chess Club] . See also [ Brentwood International Chess Congress Website] and [ Essex Chess Association Homepage] .

Brentwood can be considered the home of the 130 strong [ Hutton & Shenfield Choral Society] , who regularly perform major choral works in the Brentwood Centre and in Brentwood Cathedral, and who have established a high reputation throughout the region under the leadership of their conductor Tim Hooper. Brentwood’s Malborough Dramatic Club, founded in 1904, [ Brentwood Art Society] and [ Brentwood Philharmonic Orchestra] are but three of Brentwood’s twenty or so Arts organisations. Brentwood, or more correctly Herongate, may be considered to have played an important role in the development of Ralph Vaughan Williams musical language, based on English folk music. A pivotal point seems to have been hearing the folk song "Bushes and Briars" in Potiphar's cottage in Herongate in 1904.

port, parks and open spaces

Brentwood has a number of public open spaces including King George's Field in memorial to King George V, Shenfield Common and two vast country parks at South Weald and Thorndon. Weald Country Park was first chosen to hold the 2012 Olympics mountain bike race but is no longer the venue because it was declared to be 'too easy' a course. Although close to the extremities of Greater London Brentwood is surrounded by open countryside and woodland. Brentwood also hosts a number of 'Criterium Cycle Races' that attract many of Britain's greatest cyclists.

The town has two large sports centres providing access to a range of sports including badminton, squash, swimming, football etc. There are a number of golf courses, including a 70 par municipal course very close to the town centre at Hartswood [ [ Brentwood Borough Council - Leisure and Culture - Sports and Activities - Golf] ] as well as others in the surrounding countryside. A number of cricket clubs exist in and around the town although the 'County Ground', closest to the town centre, [ [ Brentwood Cricket Club Official Web Site] ] no longer hosts Essex matches. Brentwood is also home to Brentwood Town F.C., who play at the Brentwood Centre.

Although no longer manufactured here, Brentwood became the centre of trampolining in the UK between 1965 and 1981 after George Nissen brought the new sport here in 1949 and eventually manufactured trampolines in the town, continuing to do so for many years after they ceased production in the USA for fear of litigation. Ted Blake, a long term Brentwood resident, was Managing Director of Nissen UK from its inception until shortly before it closed and became a leading figure worldwide in the development of modern trampolining. Brentwood still has a thriving trampolining community, but no longer a local factory. [ [ Brentwood Trampoline Club] ]


Brentwood does not have a railway station in its town centre because it is situated on a hill. Brentwood railway station is located to the south of the town and is served by National Express East Anglia stopping services between Liverpool Street in the City of London and Shenfield railway station, which is located to the north of Brentwood. 'one' also operate fast direct services from Shenfield to Liverpool Street. The area is served by a network of local bus routes. The A12 road bypasses the town to the north and the M25 motorway is located 2 miles (3 km) to the south west of the town. London Buses route 498 links Romford with Brentwood and operates Daily (every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday, and Sundays every 60 minutes).

Nearest railway stations

* Brentwood railway station - National Express East Anglia services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield
* Shenfield railway station - National Express East Anglia services to Liverpool Street, Brentwood and East Anglia
* West Horndon railway station - c2c services between Fenchurch Street and Shoeburyness

Nearest underground stations

* Epping tube station - Central Line
* Upminster tube station - District Line

Nearest places

* Chipping Ongar
* Doddinghurst
* Ingatestone
* Ingrave
* Herongate
* Hutton
* Pilgrims Hatch
* Romford
* Shenfield
* Warley


External links

* [ Brentwood Borough Council] - Welcome to Brentwood (PDF)
* [ Churches in Brentwood] - The Website of Churches Together in Brentwood
* [ BBC's H2G2 Entry on Brentwood] - The Guide to Life, The Universe and Everything
* [ Brentwood Directory] - A free directory/portal specifically for Brentwood
* [ Phoenix FM] - Community radio licence holder for Brentwood
* [ Brentwood Cricket Club]
* [ Brentwood Recycling Network] - Brentwood Freecycle Community
* [ Brentwood Chess Club] - Chess club founded 1906, organises the annual Brentwood International Chess Congress.
* [ Vision of Britain Website] - A Vision of Brentwood Through Time.

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