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SITE DETAILS

Hornchurch Country Park Havering

Summary

The northern part of Hornchurch Country Park is on the site of Suttons Farm, once part of the medieval Manor of Suttons. The southern part was within Dovers Manor, later Albyns Farm. During WWI an airfield was created at Suttons Farm, leading to the development of RAF Hornchurch, and during WWII it was home to fighter aircraft. The airfield closed in 1962 but many remaining features can be seen along the Eastern Pathway. The area was re-landscaped as a country park in 1980 and is left to develop naturally; it is bordered to the east by the Ingrebourne River.

Basic Details

Previous / Other name:
RAF Hornchurch; Hornchurch Aerodrome

Site location:
Airfield Way/Squadron's Approach, off South End Road, Hornchurch

Postcode:
RM12 and RM13 ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Public Open Land

Date(s):
1914; 1980

Designer(s):

Listed structures:
None

Borough:
Havering

Site ownership:
LB Havering

Site management:
Parks and Open Spaces

Open to public?
Yes

Opening times:
unrestricted

Special conditions:

Facilities:
Car park

Events:
various: including tours of airfield

Public transport:
Tube: Hornchurch (District) then bus. Bus: 165, 365, 252, 256.

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/07/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.havering.gov.uk

Further Information

Grid ref:
TQ534844

Size in hectares:
114

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 - Boro Importance 1; SSSI (Nature Reserve)

Green Belt:
Yes

Metropolitan Open Land:
No

Special Policy Area:
No

Other LA designation:
None

Fuller information

The northern part of Hornchurch Country Park is on the former land of Suttons Farm, which was once part of the Manor of Suttons. Henry II gave the land to Hornchurch Priory in the C12th and it later became the property of William of Wykeham who founded New College Oxford in the C14th. The southern part of the country park was within Dover's Manor and later became Albyns Farm, whose old farm buildings remain today. During WWI an airfield was created at Suttons Farm from which the Royal Flying Corps defended London from attacks by Zeppelins. This led to the establishment of RAF Hornchurch here and during WWII it was home to fighter aircraft, notably squadrons of Spitfires that played a prominent role in the Battle of Britain. The airfield was used for training air crew after the war and remained an RAF station until 1962. Many of the airfield's remaining features can be seen along the Eastern Pathway, starting at the Squadron's Approach Car Park; dispersal bays can be seen adjacent to the old perimeter track and a number of gun emplacements and pillboxes can be found, once part of the airfield's own defences. Within the park Airfield Wood, Runway Wood and Flightway Wood keep this history of the site alive.

After closure as an airfield the land was used for gravel extraction and quarrying during which ancient tools and artefacts came to light from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages as well as Roman times. The Country Park was created from 1980 when re-landscaping was carried out. Most of the parkland is left to develop naturally, although grass is cut in some areas with others kept as wildflower meadows. Tree plantations are growing into woodland, which will be opened to the public when established. Along the east side of the park is the Ingrebourne River, and the Ingrebourne Valley Marshes, an extensive area of riverside reed swamps, flood meadows and willow thickets, providing a nature reserve rich in wildlife, with good opportunities for bird watching.

Sources consulted:

Arthur Mee 'The King's England: London North of the Thames except the City and Westminster' (Hodder & Stoughton 1972).

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