History of the Boar’s Head and Herongate

The Boar’s Head country pub originally comprised three Tudor cottages, forming a group with other buildings around the village pond. Part of the Tyrell family’s Heron Hall estate, it first became a licensed inn in the 18th century serving the small village community. Now a Grade II listed building, this attractive historic pub reflects the essential character of the village itself, surrounded by many attractive 17th and 18th century cottages clustered round the pond and Button Common.

Herongate and nearby Ingrave are mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. At this time there were three manor houses listed and 33 peasant households, suggesting a population of around 150. Situated on the fertile Thames Plain, the area was dominated by agriculture and the supply of timber throughout the Middle Ages, but the key influences on the landscape around Herongate are those of two distinguished Essex families, the Tyrells and the Petres.

The first Tyrell at Heron Hall was Sir James Tyrell, who acquired the estate by marriage to Margaret Heron in the 14th century, remaining the seat of his descendents for many generations. Noteworthy among them was Sir John Tyrell, Speaker of the House, Knight of the Shire and High Sheriff of Essex, who fought at Agincourt in 1415 with a retinue of five men-at-arms and sixteen archers. The last Tyrell died at Heron Hall in 1766 with no heir and the manor house was finally demolished in 1790. Today only the moat, fish ponds and some outbuildings remain visible on one of the many lovely walks in the area.

The pub sign for The Boar’s Head still carries the Tyrell family crest, a boar with a peacock feather in his mouth, and the nearby 15th century All Saints Church contains the tombs of many family members in the Tyrell Chapel.

Bordering Herongate to the west lie the grounds of Thorndon Hall, a magnificent Palladian mansion built in 1776 with grounds landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. The former country seat of the aristocratic Petre family, the extensive grounds now accommodate an attractive Country Park and the Wildlife Trust’s Thorndon Countryside Centre. The 11th Baron Petre fought at Waterloo and acquired Napoleon’s famous war horse Marengo, which must have roamed the grounds near Herongate until it was sold to stud.

An excellent way to discover the area is to enjoy a walk around the Hutton and Herongate area. A mapped out route leaves from All Saints Church and takes you though Halls Wood to Ingrave, along the reservoir and past the site of Heron Hall through tranquil woods and fields.

The walk passes close by The Boar’s Head, an excellent stopping point to relax with friends in a delightfully preserved old English pub serving a range of classic pub meals. With an ever-changing specials board and a superb Sunday roast, there is a fine selection of real ales, good wine and soft drinks for you to savour.


The Boar’s Head is on Billericay Road in Herongate, just three miles south of Brentwood. For Sat Navs use postcode CM13 3PS.