Bedfords Park, Havering-atte-Bower 334

Romford, Essex, England, Greater London

Brief Description

Bedfords Park became a public park in the 1930s, and features a Visitor Centre, specimen trees and a variety of wildlife habitats.

History

Bedfords Park comprises land formerly belonging to the manors of Bedfords and Earls (or Nerles); the name may derive from a 14th-century landowner. In 1452 one-time Lord Mayor of London Sir Thomas Cooke bought and amalgamated both manors for farming, the land remaining in his family for around 200 years. Subsequent owners expanded the estate and in 1865-7 the 18th-century manor house was enlarged and surrounding hilltop planted as gardens with exotic trees, some of which remain, as does a horse chestnut avenue and part of the walled garden. The last owner sold part of the estate in 1920 and in 1933 his widow sold Bedfords to Romford UDC, who initially opened the house as a museum and café. Used during World War 2 by the National Fire Service and as a base for home defence, the 1950s saw rapid decay and vandalism and it was demolished in 1959, now the site of the visitors centre. Remnants of the original steps from the house can still be seen. To the south the deer park remains; a red deer herd was first established here in 1934.

Visitor Facilities

The site is open daily, closes at dusk.
Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

The site is open daily, closes at dusk.

Directions

Rail: Romford then bus/walk. Bus: 103, 256, 500, 502
History

Detailed History

The original manor house at Bedfords Park was built in 1771, and enlarged in 1865-1867 when nearby the hilltop laid out as gardens with exotic trees. Hot houses and a pinery are known to have existed in 1818, and a walled garden possibly in the 1860s. The property entered public ownership in 1933, serving as a museum, but was demolished in 1959 and replaced with a modern cafe. A red deer park was established in 1934.