Braxted Park, a beautiful and historic location in the heart of Essex

Braxted Park is a beautiful Queen Anne house set in its own historic and unique parkland setting in the heart of Essex. It has been the family home of the Clark family since it was purchased on behalf of the Plessey Company by Sir Allen Clark in 1946. Since that time it has been developed by successive generations of the family into a highly successful and diversified rural business which incorporates five main enterprises: weddings and events, property management, a  9 hole parkland golf course, one of the best partridge shoots in the UK and a productive arable farm.

Braxted Park welcomes your interest. It is not only a beautiful and unusual place. It is also an important feature of the local community and environment and has a vital role to play in terms of local employment as well as heritage conservation. All our businesses contribute to this beautiful estate’s maintenance as one of the jewels in the Essex landscape and we thank you for visiting our website.

The History of Braxted Park

A deer park

Braxted Park is first recorded as being a Deer Park in 1342 when it belonged to the Countess of Pembroke.


A new owner

The estate is purchased in 1650 by Thomas Darcy


Changes at the estate

His son, Thomas Darcy II, abandons the old house which was situated close to Braxted church, and builds Braxted Lodge on the site of the present house. In 1708 the park was described as having been extended to 300 acres with three large ponds.


The estate is extended

The park is described as having been extended to 300 acres with three large ponds.


Peter Du Cane arrives

The estate is purchased by Peter Du Cane, a cloth merchant and entrepreneur. He reconstructs the house with the help and advice of Isaac Ware, Thomas James and Robert Taylor. Peter lives at Braxted Lodge from 1751 until his death at the age of 90 in 1803. Du Cane maintains the park with its original features but carries out new planting and reshapes the ponds. He plants two radiating elm avenues leading up to the front of the house and keeps a meticulous account of the work he carries out.


Peter Du Cane II

Peter Du Cane dies aged 90.

Peter Du Cane II inherits the park at the age of 62 and proceeds to carry out extensive alterations to the house and park. Du Cane removes his father’s elm avenues and enlarges the ponds to form a lake. He also plants numerous park trees and shelterbelts around the estate, and adds the nursery plantation, a grove of oaks, holm oaks and cedars to the east of the walled garden.


The estate becomes Braxted Park

Du Cane II dies in 1823 and the estate passes to his son Peter Du Cane III, who renames the house Braxted Park. His main contribution to the park is the acquisition of the lands of the Glebe to the north-east of the old park, the construction of the four and a half mile park wall, and the addition of six lodge buildings. From this point onwards the old park (pre 1800 extent) is to be distinguished from the new park, which includes the remainder of the land within the wall.


Charles Du Cane inherits the park

Peter Du Cane III dies in 1841 and the estate was passed on to his cousin Charles Du Cane who maintains the estate in much the same condition.


Charles Du Cane dies

Unfortunately after his death in 1889, the estate takes a gradual decline with much of the fine timber in the park being felled.


The park changes hands

The estate was finally sold by the Du Cane family to William Boulton in 1919.


The Clark Family

William Boulton sells Braxted Park to The Plessey Company. The house is occupied by Sir Allen Clark, chairman of the company and subsequently by his son, Michael Clark. In 1955, 45 acres in the north-west of the old park is developed as a private golf course and this use continues today. The estate is now owned by a family trust and managed by Sir Allen Clark’s grandson, Duncan Clark who came out of a 17 year banking career in the City to devote all his energies full time to making Braxted a thriving and self sufficient diversified rural business.


Investment in the Park

Duncan Clark started a £2 million investment programme in 2004 and the Braxted Park wedding, conference and business venue was born. A 35m by 15m pavilion was erected on the foundations of an old tennis court within the walled garden. The pavilion can accommodate up to 350 pax for dining as well as conferences, parties and weddings. A wedding venue wouldn’t be complete without a bridal suite and guest accommodation so Clark refurbished the old stables into sophisticated and modern guest rooms. There are a total of 8 guest rooms plus a stunning bridal suite comprising its own kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and sitting room. Part of the investment programme also included the restoration of 10 office units spread across a total floor space of 15,000 sq ft which are arranged around an elegant courtyard setting.


Conservation and Stewardship

Heritage and Conservation

We are extremely proud of our heritage and ongoing work in the areas of conservation, sustainability, the environment and public policy.

With the help of English Heritage, the Country House Foundation, Maldon District Council and DEFRA, we are engaged in a comprehensive programme of projects to preserve the heritage of the Braxted Park Estate and conserve its parkland. This includes:

  • The restoration of Braxted Park, which is a Grade II* listed park and garden on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. This includes a Landscape Restoration Plan produced by the Elizabeth Banks Association in May 1993, which has been executed within the annual capital works programme of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme
  • The ongoing restoration and maintenance of the Grade II* listed Georgian house, including the signature octagonal windows, the roof and the exterior brickwork
  • The restoration of the Grade II* listed hermitage which was listed as a “Building at Risk” on the English Heritage Register
  • The restoration of the historic greenhouses within the Grade II  listed walled garden to fully functional fruit tree houses
  • The restoration of the four and a half mile wall surrounding the park and the restoration of the dam wall at the west end of the main lake

The Hermitage

The Hermitage at Braxted Park, formerly known, inaccurately, as the Ice House, is one of the most mysterious and enigmatic lakeside buildings in any English parkland setting. Architectural and garden historians are perplexed by its origins and rarely can agree on its original function. The best guess is that it was some sort of “folly” probably originally commissioned by the first Peter DuCane when he built Braxted Park with Sir Robert Taylor in the late 18th century.

During the 1980’s deterioration caused by tree roots pulling the foundations this way and that really set in. Movement was unsustainable and the building half collapsed. It has been a Building at Risk on English Heritage’s register for several decades. It was unsafe and closed to the public. Restoration costs were prohibitive and there it lay discarded and neglected by all except a decent bat population who liked to roost in its nooks and crannies.

Duncan Clark's efforts in securing finance for a complete restoration were eventually successful when English Heritage were persuaded to commission some  research on the building’s history  which  justified  funds being extended to help towards the project. Happily, the Country House Foundation supplied the balance of the Funds required, with the Estate making its contribution as well.

In recognition of the excellence of the restoration work, the project was awarded the 2011 Maldon District Council Building Conservation award.

The Environment and Sustainability

At the centre of our policy on the environment and sustainability is the completion of the recommendations of a report commissioned by The Carbon Trust in 2009.

A key recommendation of this report was the replacement of the mansion house’s five oil fired boilers with a single 150Kw wood chip boiler to cater for all the heating and hot water needs of the estate year-round.

Fuel for the woodchip burner is sourced from the estate itself using the coppice from ancient semi-natural woodland. This is taken on a thirty year rotation to comply with a woodland management plan compiled by the Essex Woodland Partnership.

In addition to the restoration of the parkland itself, complying with the requirements of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme has resulted in substantial benefits to the environment, including a natural habitat for barn owls, door mice and the extremely rare hawfinch. Cowslips and bee orchids have also made a welcome return to the estate, which is a good indication of the health of the soil.

The estate has been the recipient of two Maldon District Council Conservation and Design awards for Sustainability to date. The first in Dec 2010 winner for the installation of the biomass boiler and highly commended in 2011 with the Construction of the Cookery School.

Public Policy

The estate is fully engaged with a number of stakeholders in achieving our stewardship goals. We are committed to increasing public access to Braxted Park, particularly to promote the education of young and urban-based people about the value that country estates such as ours contribute to society.

Initiatives include visits to Braxted Park by students from local schools and colleges, as well as heritage groups. We are incredibly proud of the educational opportunities we provide and welcome visits by prior arrangement.

We are also extremely active with charities, offering our venue and facilities to various good causes. These include golf days, charity balls, parish walks, open gardens and tea days.

In addition, the venue is often hired on a commercial but subsidised basis, by charities that raise substantial sums through their events.

© Copyright 2015 Braxted Park Group. All rights reserved.

Braxted Park is available all year round as one of the most beautiful and picturesque private estates in the UK. We are the largest walled-estate in the country and we host events throughout the year, from weddings & parties to meetings, workshops and team building events. We also run a very popular cookery school. There is a beautiful nine-hole parkland golf course within the grounds as well as high-quality office space. If you want to find out more call us in the office on 01621 892 305.

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