Land of the Fanns Highlights 2021

Once again, its thanks to the dedication and hard work of the many volunteers, stakeholders and delivery partners, the Land of the Fanns Landscape Partnership Scheme has continued to achieve so much throughout 2021. With the programme set to come to an end in 2022 we are now looking forward to working with Thames Chase Trust on the future legacy.

Here we bring you a roundup of all the highlights from the programme this year.


In November we hosted our first conference since 2019. The event was a huge success with an opportunity for people to come together and hear about the Land of the Fanns projects that have been delivered over the last couple of years. Over 40 people attended the event which included talks from partners at Essex County Council, Thames21, Friends of Langdon Hills, Essex Wildlife Trust, Essex Rock & Mineral Society and Thames Chase Trust rounded off by a tour of the Broadfields site lead by Forestry England. Read more here.

Community Mapping

In the summer we held the Finale event of our Community Mapping project. We gathered at Langdon Hills Country Park for this event which highlighted the characters that have been developed for the various interpretation projects coming together for a spectacular day where all 100 flags from the community mapping project were on display. The event was made complete by a wonderful adaptation of the Rolling Stones classic, Paint it Black, creatively re-worked by the brilliant actors from Cocoloco – watch out Mick Jagger!

All the films from the community mapping project, including the Finale event (sadly not the song!), can be accessed via the Land of the Fanns You Tube Channel.

As a shameless plug we also launched our new book, Fens, Forests & Fields, which is now available via the Thames Chase Just Giving page for a suggested donation of £10 + postage. The book, which features a foreword by local writer & social historian Ken W0rpole, provides a fascinating account of personal attachment to the Land of the Fanns from people that live and work in the local area. The book was launched as part of the Essex Book Festival back in June.

Walking the Forest Circle

Earlier this year saw the completion of the Forest Circle walk. This comprises 8 fantastic linear walking routes, covering a total of 43 miles, across the Land of the Fanns. The routes have been meticulously mapped by the Thames Chase Volunteer walking group supported by the Land of the Fanns team. If you fancy working off those mince pies after Christmas, leaflets for the walks can be found at the Thames Chase Forest Centre in Upminster. The official launch of the Forest Circle will be happening on Saturday 5th February, further details to follow.


As a deviation from the norm, we held a model making competition in spring and one of our popular photographic competitions in summer this year. The model making competition was well received with some fantastic entries. The winner was Abigail Wright, aged 7. Abigail made a model of the back of Rainham Hall, looking in from the gardens because she loves the gardens. She made the model from junk materials – a cereal box, paper and craft bits she had at home.

In 2nd place was 4-year-old Freddie Boland with a superb recreation of the Ingrebourne, and in 3rd place was 3-year-old Teddy Jones who imaginatively recreated the cobra stone trail at Hylands Park.

The theme of the photographic competition was ‘wish for the future’.We received lots of great entries and some beautiful wishes, but as usual we could only choose three winners.1st place went to Colin Page with ‘Life in the gutter’. Colins wish for the future was:

“I would like to think that in 10 years’ time, thanks in part to this project; we’ll see an increase in insect and bird life in the area. I can’t recall the last time I saw a Red Admiral butterfly, or heard a Song Thrush locally. They were common place in my childhood. It’s great that the habitats for creatures such as these are now being nurtured and with green corridors linking them together, they will really make a difference”

2nd and 3rd places went to Tim Howson with ‘Bedfords Park’ and Karen Hurrell with ‘cygnet’

Colin Page


A round up of some of the achievements from both the Land of the Fanns heritage and environment programmes can be seen on our latest infographics. The heritage one was released in July.There’s some impressive statistics in there including 700 volunteer days dedicated to heritage projects and 160 people trained up in environmental skills. It nicely sums up some of the key achievements the scheme has made and hopefully helps signpost what’s important for the future.

Discovery of the Tudor Garden

One of the biggest news stories this year for Land of the Fanns was the discovery of the Tudor Garden at Belhus Park. This led on from the original Land of the Fanns Designed Landscapes project, where volunteers were introduced to how to recognise and record historic designed landscape features.

Using this newfound knowledge, local volunteer Phil Lobley, raised further interested in the site at Belhus Park. He noticed, from his own analysis of aerial photographs and remote sensing images of Belhus, that there were features of a 16th Century garden, depicted in a 1619 pictorial survey of Belhus Park and a late 17th to early 18th century painting. This attracted the attention of Historic England who have since carried out a more detailed survey using ground penetrating radar and used a drone to take further aerial images of the site, some of which lies beneath a golf course. At this point Land of the Fanns went global as news of the finds reached as far as the United States! Read more here.

…. Meanwhile future work will involve training for volunteers to help understand how to interpret the results of the surveys by Historic England. Longer term plans will involve bringing the various partners together to begin to pull together a strategy for the future maintenance of this special site, supported by Historic England.

Landscape Champions

Our main tool for engagement, certainly over the course of the pandemic, has been online. Whilst this has presented a new set of challenges, we have made the most of this as an opportunity to maintain contact with our stakeholders.This year we focused on support for local groups to help provide them with some of the skills to empower them to achieve their goals!

Under the Landscape Champions of Tomorrow programme, Land of the Fanns co-ordinated a number of online training courses covering engaging young people, engaging the community, marketing & promotion, volunteer recruitment, management and retention, audience development, volunteering good practice,fundraising, measuring impact – the stats and roles & responsibilities of trustees.

Feedback from the training courses has been good, with over 30 individuals joining. Courses were individually led by experts in their field and we now have a great network of facilitators to help deliver future training opportunities.

Forest School training & outdoor learning

We worked with Essex Wildlife Trust on the delivery of a range of outdoor learning opportunities this year. This included a mix of Forest School training and school visits to support outdoor learning. 5 trainees took part in the Forest School training, mainly in Thurrock, delivered via a combination of online learning with trainees also required to put together a portfolio of evidence throughout the year to achieve accreditation to level 3 Forest Schools.

The school visits were well received and very popular with teachers with 10 schools taking part mainly in Havering and Thurrock. The project also offered funds of £70 each to buy a package of equipment to support future outdoor learning. Read more.

Online Learning Resource

We will be adding new content to our Online Learning resource early in the new year. We have been working with Museum of London Archaeology and Essex Wildlife Trust to develop some great new archaeology resources and some teacher training to help support those involved in education to engage young people. Watch out for the launch and check out existing content at the learning resource website at:

And finally…

Finally looking forward to 2022, there’s still more lots more to come with projects coming to completion. We will be holding a final celebration event to mark the end of the programme in March. More details will be coming out on this soon.

Don’t forget to look out for more updates on the progress of the Land of the Fanns Scheme on social media.

Benjamin Sanderson

Land of the Fanns Scheme Manager

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

01708 642970

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