I can usually find offbeat and unusual beauty in almost every place I visit, but I have to admit that I found myself quite challenged during my recent visit to Brentwood in Essex.
Brentwood town is the principal settlement of the Borough of Brentwood, in the county of Essex in the east of England.
Located in the London commuter belt, the town is 20 miles (30 km) east north-east of Charing Cross, and near the M25 motorway. According to the 2011 Census, the town had a population of 49,463.
Despite arriving during the end of the evening rush hour, the town centre was pretty much deserted and the glum faces that accompanied me on the jam-packed train from Liverpool Street reminded me why I should count myself lucky not to have spend two hours every day commuting.
The High Street was lined with closed shops. Even the town’s McDonalds had packed up and moved away, closing down in March this year after trading in the town since 1991.
Use Ur Loft. In text so small you’d have to get on a step ladder to read it, there’s a list of glowing customer testimonies printed on the shop’s awnings.
Some kind of cylindrical sculpture showing off local landmarks. I quite liked it.
Unusually, bus service updates were hand written and Sellotaped on to the bus shelters.
There’s been a pub called The Swan at 125 High Street since the 15th century. Although the pub has been rebuilt several times since, there is supposed to be a ghost that haunts the place.
Located on Hart Street, the former Fire Station now serves as a Barbers and Computer Repair shop.
Another closed shop.
Ornate building at 67 High Street.,
Bit of an unpleasing mash up of old and new here.
The austere façade of Marks & Spencer, who mixed it up with Sainsbury’s during the Brentwood Trolley Row of 2013.
The sad sight of a closed Post Office.
It’s a pretty bleak High Street.
Some architectural relief was found on the corner of the High Street and Ingrave Road.
Further down Ingrave Road can be found Brentwood Cathedral.
Brentwood Cathedral began in 1861 as a parish church built in a Gothic style. This relatively small building was raised to Cathedral status in 1917. Between 1989 and 1991 the church was enlarged in an Italianate Classical style by Quinlan Terry. The original church building on the south (liturgical east) side was retained
The new Brentwood Cathedral was dedicated by Cardinal Basil Hume on 31 May 1991. [—]
Incongruous neon sign.
Located opposite the cathedral, Brentwood School is a coeducational independent day and boarding school founded in 1557. [—]
Just look at the ugliness of this ungainly modern building. Slapped right next to Brentwood School, its cheap and nasty façade stands out like a sore thumb.
Another closed shop.
Unmistakably one wanky name for a business.
Poor old William Hunter met a grisly end.
William Hunter was a Marian martyr burnt to death in Brentwood at the age of 19 on March 27, 1555 on Ingrave Road. He had lost his job in London as a silk-weaver because he refused to attend the Catholic mass, despite an order that everyone in the City of London had to attend, and had come to live with his parents in Brentwood, but got into a dispute when discovered reading the Bible for himself in Brentwood Chapel. He refused to accept the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation according to which the bread and wine of the communion become the body and blood of Jesus.
He was taken before Antony Browne, then the local Justice, but later Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, but refused to retract his position. Hunter was then sent to Bishop Bonner in London. He resisted both threats and bribes—Bonner offered to make him a Freeman of the City of London and give him £40—and was eventually returned to Brentwood to be burnt. He was the first Essex martyr of the reign of Mary Tudor. [—]
Empty period building on Shenfield Road.
Ongar Road scenes.
Yet more closed shops.
A law firm aligning themselves with the words of Albert Einstein. Er… OK.
Another of those hand written bus notices.
If you ever need a driveway Specialst then Parkstone are the specialsts you need.
Just about every street looked as depressing as this one, with all the gardens dug up and replaced with concrete to provide car parking space.
Let’s hear it for the Brentwood dog training facility!
A veh serious darts game was taking place inside.
Around the bar.
The landlord gets busy polishing the cup.
A fine ale.
Heading back into town I passed the majestic sight of the Brentwood Kebab.
Apparently playing a part in the dire The Only Way Is Essex TV series, the Sugar Hut is described as a “Huge nightclub with themed nights swathed in Baroque and Asian decor in a 15th-century coaching inn.”
Not for me, I think.