The History of Woodham Fenn

The Fenn formed part of the waste land of Champions Manor and several copyholders enjoyed grazing rights over the area. Copyhold was abolished by Act of Parliament in 1929 but the original copyholders and their successors continued to enjoy their grazing rights. During World War II the Ministry of Agriculture took control of some of the Fenn and it was farmed as arable land until it was returned to the control of the lady of the manor in 1951. As no income was available from the Fenn she took little interest in it and a local farmer continued to farm some of the land although he only had the right to graze animals there. From the late 1950s Woodham Ferrers Parish Council, the forerunner of the Town Council, protested about the situation without success until, in January 1964, they were able to buy the Lordship of the Manor of Champions which included Woodham Fenn.

The council eventually managed to bring about the end of farming on the site and there are now no rights to graze animals on Woodham Fenn.

During the late 1970s, as part of the expansion of South Woodham Ferrers into the new town, Essex County Council acquired part of the site to construct Shaw Farm roundabout and the adjacent stretches of Ferrers Road and the A132. In exchange they transferred additional areas of land to the parish council between the original waste land and Ferrers Road which now forms part of the Fenn.

In the days before the new town was built The Drive which is the hard surfaced broad path that runs across the Fenn from the Shaw Farm gate over the level crossing to the bridge and the beyond to Eyotts Farm was one of the main roads in the area providing access, not only to the farm, but also to many of the plotland dwellings in that area


1777 Map showing Woodham Fenn