Land of the Fanns Autumn Update!

As we are now a year and a half into the project, it’s probably a useful time to recap on what the Land of the Fanns Landscape Partnership is about from a manager’s perspective. For the community it’s a five year programme that began in 2017 that will deliver 27 individual projects aimed at engaging local communities with their local natural, cultural, built and archaeological heritage. As a landscape partnership the scheme also aims to bring together a range of people and organisations to work together across the landscape. There are 9 organisations responsible for delivery of the scheme who are Thames Chase Trust (lead partner), London Borough of Havering, Barking & Dagenham Council, Thurrock Council, Essex County Council, Thames21, Thames Estuary Partnership, Forestry Commission and Brentwood Council. The Land of the Fanns team are here to help foster this partnership and manage the programme of 27 projects.

It’s a great scheme for this region and to achieve support from the Heritage Lottery Fund is recognition of this. The Land of the Fanns has a goldmine of heritage if you are prepared to scratch beneath the surface – a landscape of hidden gems worthy of further exploration!


Throughout 2018 the Land of the Fanns Woodlands, Grasslands & Hedgerow project has enabled new conservation grazing schemes to be established by Essex County Council at Thorndon Country Park using rare breed Old English Goats. These goats, which I am told have Neolithic ancestry, are helping to bring back flower rich grassland into beneficial management. Essex are also bringing woodland at Belhus Woods Country park, Boyles Court and Codham Hall back into management through thinning and coppicing regimes starting this winter.

We have been working with FWAG East on developing partnerships with local landowners within the project area. The next stage will be to hopefully use these new relationships to help inform a Landscape Management Plan. This would be based on the Farm Cluster Groups model originally piloted by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – working together to achieve more.

The Land of the Fanns team have been working with London Borough of Havering and London, Essex & Hertfordshire Amphibian & Reptile Trust to improve access, community engagement and nature conservation at Tylers Common in Upminster. This oasis of Essex heathland supports a number of important and unusual plant communities, including dwarf gorse and heather, aswell as being important for reptiles and amphibians. This work, which will begin with removal of some of the scrub, detrimental to heathland wildlife, and pond restoration is being funded by our successful Veolia Maintenance Trust grant.

We had a brilliant response to our launch events for the River Rom improvement project at Grenfell Park and Eastbrookend Country Park with 125 people from the local communities of Hornchurch, Rush Green, Romford, Elm Park and Dagenham coming along. This innovative project, to be delivered in 2019, will transform a stretch of the River Rom south of Roneo Corner through a project designed to re-connect the river to its historic floodplain. The project is being led by Thames21 working in partnership with the Environment Agency, London Borough of Havering, Barking & Dagenham Council, YMCA and Havering Wildlife Project with funding from the Environment Agency, Thames Water and Veolia Maintenance Trust. We have also begun a programme of removing Japanese Knotweed which is a highly invasive non-native plant that has spread along the river bank.

Two new staff members, Tegan Cullwick and Mitchell Jacobs, have recently started work for the Forestry Commission on their community woodland estate at Thames Chase, beginning their two year Forest Craftsperson apprenticeship scheme. This is one of the Land of the Fanns flagship projects aimed at supporting vocational skills training and experience for local people. Having successfully got though the selection process the two apprentices have already embarked on an intensive period of training, learning skills as diverse as chainsaw training, community engagement and event management. This will ultimately help in the delivery of other Land of the Fanns projects aswell.


We held a successful conference in October, well attended by our stakeholders. The event kicked off with a morning of superb talks on Land of the Fanns projects from RSPB, Thames21, Friends of Bedfords Park, Friends of Upminster Windmill, Thames Chase Trust and the National Trust. This was followed up in the afternoon, after a networking lunch, by a workshop lead by Museum of London Archaeology on the themes for the travelling archaeology exhibition. We will be holding our next conference early in 2019, if you would like to come along, let us know and we can put you on our mailing list. Otherwise look out for further details shortly.

Continuing the theme from last year the Land of the Fanns team have been working with pupils from Grays Convent High School to plan projects for this year’s Thurrock’s Next Top Boss. This is an initiative run by Inspire Thurrock Council which gives young people the chance to work with local employers on real business challenges. The pupils have so far come up with some great ideas based on applying for one of the Land of the Fanns Community Action Fund grants. So could it be a new heritage garden or a heritage trail perhaps? Find out who the winners are in March 2019.

As the interpretive themes for the Land of the Fanns become more established we are continuing our work at 8 ‘gateway locations’ to promote heritage interpretation. The main theme of interpretation for the Land of the Fanns is a landscape of hidden gems worthy of further exploration with a set of sub-themes which are that of a crossroads landscape, the relationships between land and water and the connections the area has with a history of trade and commerce. Interpretation projects we are working on with partners including Forestry Commission at Pages Wood, Land Trust at Davy Down, Friends of High House, Friends of Bedfords Park, Barking & Dagenham Council at Eastbrookend and Valence House, Thames Chase Trust at the Forest Centre and Thurrock Council at Langdon Hills, consists of an exploration of these themes brought to life by the characters involved from water voles at Pages wood to the Heath family at Bedfords Park.

We will also be launching our Built Heritage learning programme in early 2019. We have been developing opportunities with Thurrock through their volunteer networks. We hope to offer the opportunity to work on the built heritage project, which will be at All Saints Church, part of the lost village of East Horndon, to young people not in education, employment or training.

We continue to develop projects around the grade II registered Parks and Gardens at Belhus and Thorndon. Both sites, whose origins lie in the landscape garden movement lead by the likes of Humphry Repton and Capability Brown, are the focus of the Land of the Fanns Connecting Historic Landscapes and Designed Landscapes Projects. We have recently been discussing these projects with Historic England who are keen to improve these sites and take advantage of the Land of the Fanns involvement.

Community Action Fund – This round is open until 31st January 2019

We had a good response and awarded 4 grants from the first round of the Land of the Fanns Community Action Fund. Successful applicants, who have already started to deliver their projects, are:

If you are you looking for funding for your next project the Land of the Fanns Community Action Fund could be for you!  If you have a project in mind, or you know a group who does, please let us know about it.

The fund is open to schools, community groups, residents associations, scout groups, friends groups, church groups and social clubs within and surrounding the Land of the Fanns project area, for projects that compliment the wider scheme and meet some of our main objectives and vision.

£15,000 will be available through each round of the Community Action Fund to deliver projects of up to £5,000.  The current round is open to applicants until 31st January 2019.

For more information on the Community Action Fund and how to apply visit our Community Grants page.

Photography competition

We had a great response to our photography competition which followed on from the photography workshops the Land of the Fanns team ran throughout the summer. We received 22 entries on the themes of built heritage, communities and places that are special to you. All entries and the 3 winning images, who each received a gift voucher to spend on the high street, can be seen on our blog.

Steve Cox, Autumn leaves at Parklands Open Space

Look out for further Land of the Fanns competitions announced via our website and on social media.

Finally I would like to thank all our stakeholders for your support throughout 2018, and we’re looking forward to working with you on more Land of the Fanns projects in 2019. Keep looking out for project updates on our website and on social media and we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Benjamin Sanderson

Land of the Fanns Scheme Manager

Thames Chase Trust, Pike Lane
Upminster, Essex RM14 3NS

01708 642970

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