Heritage Trail - Thorndon South

Welcome to the Heritage Trail at Thorndon Country Park South

What you see at Thorndon is the result of centuries of human involvement. Today the park is a treasure trove of extensive open space, wildlife habitat and history. We invite you to wander through this historic parkland and precious woods and imagine how it once was.

Follow the new Heritage Trail (funded by National Lottery Heritage and Land of the Fanns) to unearth gems about the history of the park. Choose from the standard or longer route, and read the interpretation boards along the way.

Download the Heritage Trail leaflet and walking trails as a PDF here.

Download a map of Thorndon Country Park here.

Read more about Thorndon Country Park and plan your visit here.

Walkers at Thorndon South
Walkers at Thorndon South

The Original Thorndon Estate

Official records of Thorndon date back to just before William the Conqueror’s Domesday Survey of 1086, although there would have been settlements here dating back much further.

This magnificent landscape was once part of the original Thorndon estate which dates to 1414 and the reign of King Henry V, when Welsh merchant Lewis John was granted royal permission to empark 300 acres of land around his lodge for deer hunting.

1598 Walker Map of Thorndon Hall (ERO)
1598 Walker Map of Thorndon Hall (ERO)

Petre Family

In 1573 Lord Petre bought the estate and began extensive remodelling. He rebuilt the original house into a fine Tudor mansion which became known as Old Thorndon Hall. The remains and foundations of which can be found in Ruin Wood today.

During the 17th century little changed, but the 8th Lord Petre (a celebrated horticulturist) began ambitious changes in the early 18th century, employing Bourguignon to draw up landscape plan. Unfortunately the 8th Lord Petre died young and his ideas were never fully realised.

In the late 18th century the 9th Lord Petre commissioned New Thorndon Hall, and took on Lancelot 'Capability' Brown to draw up plans for new gardens.

Thorndon Hall courtesy of the Essex Record Office
New Thorndon Hall courtesy of the Essex Record Office
Land of the Fanns logo
National Heritage Lottery Fund logo
Essex Record Office logo