Brentwood

Just 18 miles from London, Brentwood lies within the Green Belt that surrounds the metropolis. It has excellent road and rail links from the capital and no fewer than three local airports, Stansted, City and Southend, within a drive of 30 to 40 minutes. This is very convenient for visitors, who can easily travel in and around the area using a taxi and minibus company like Sky Transfers.

 

The Borough of Brentwood has a population of 70,000 and is a commuter town, with about half its residents travelling elsewhere for work, mainly to London.  The town centre has several historic buildings and conservation areas, as well as a large shopping mall in Crown Street, home to a wide range of independent boutiques.  The town is agreeably landscaped, with several areas of green land nearby and a large area of woodland, Thriftwood, close to the town centre.  Other areas include Hutton Mount, Hartswood and the Homesteads, and the region boasts several sites of Special Scientific Interest.

 

However, Brentwood has a reputation, based largely on an anagram of its name, Bored Town, of being the most boring town in Britain.  This may have something to do with the fact that it has always been a place to travel through en route to somewhere else.  Indeed, this is why the settlement grew up in the first place.  It used to be part of the Great Forest which covered this region, and there is little evidence of ancient civilisations here despite being on the Great Roman Road which ran from London to Colchester.  The name actually means ‘Burntwood’, and it is believed that, following a fire, a clearing in the forest led first to cottages and then to the development of a small settlement.

 

The murder of Thomas à Becket in Canterbury in 1170 began the transformation of this little hamlet.  Within a few months tales of miracles and other wonders began to spread throughout the country, and pilgrims travelling from the Midlands and east of England to his shrine in Kent came through Brentwood to the ferry at Tilbury.  The chapel of St Thomas à Becket in the town centre dates from this time and is listed as an Ancient Monument, and the White Hart in the High Street is considered one of the finest medieval inns in England.

 

The influx of pilgrims had a big impact on the village, which grew up around the crossroads of two important roads and became the centre of the agricultural district.  In 1227 Henry III granted a charter for a market, and as the wool and cloth industry grew Brentwood developed into an important trade centre, with merchants arriving from across Europe.  As the centuries passed, the town continued to flourish thanks to its location.  It has produced a surprising number of well-known actors, athletes and television personalities, including Frank Bruno, Steve Davis, Griff Rhys Jones, Ross Kemp, Pixie Lott, Louise Redknapp and Fatima Whitbread, while Noel Edmonds and Frank Lampard both attended Brentwood School

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