In the woods, or on the downs

By Alan Newitt

Can anyone provide information about the reputed "Roman Bath" situated in the undergrowth in the Thundersley Glen / Hadleigh Downs area?
I remember seeing it c1958, having been taken there by my friend's Father. 

1) Is it still there?

2) Is it Roman?

3) If it's not there now, what happened to it?

I can't see it from Google Earth, but then I wouldn't really expect to, as it was well hidden.  I'm sure there must be many of the older generation, who lived locally, who remember it.

This page was added by Alan Newitt on 01/09/2013.
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Yes the "Roman baths" as you call it is still there, it's a steep-sided small reservoir of water on the Salvation Army farm land. If you walk from Hadleigh Castle down towards the railway line, take a right on the bottom track and keep walking. Before the green gates take a right through a kissing gate which takes you on a path towards the mountain bike valley. If you look over to the right as you walk up said path you will see a copse of trees which actually surround the "baths." David Hurrell told me it's called the iron pond due to its sure when he sees this he will be able to tell us more on its history. I can remember seeing it as a child too. You can see it on Google...IQPLM

By ellen hume
On 01/09/2013

Ellen is "spot on!" Roman Baths and the Iron Pond are synonymous. (There really isn't much she doesn't know about the Country Park.) And, yes, it's called Iron Pond because of its triangular shape, like an old-fashioned smoothing iron. 

I assume the name Roman Baths was a romantic invention (50 or more years ago) of my generation of scruffy-kid-anglers for, in reality, it is a brick-lined reservoir built over a hundred years ago, not by the Romans but by the Salvation Army Land & Industrial Colony for their brickfields. My Hadleigh Farm History Map, available from the SA Tearooms and the definitive book "Hadleigh Salvation Army Farm" will tell you more about this operation. 

Forty-five years ago we used to terrorize the fish in Thundersley Glen, the Blue Lagoon (considerably bigger in those days before the landfill), the Piggery Ponds, the Roman Baths and the Eel Ponds. (The latter were the old drainage dykes behind the sea wall, now much altered.) We never caught anything in the Eel Ponds, but we drowned a lot of worms!) 

The Roman Baths was home to a colony of exotic, golden Crucian Carp – at least, that's what we called them, in order to accord some street cred to specimens that could fit in a sardine can with room to spare! 

I should like to take this opportunity to apologize to all the fish I caught in my youth and assure their kin that I am a reformed character.

By David Hurrell
On 02/09/2013

Hello Ellen & David, THANK YOU BOTH for your prompt replies. They were very informative, and pretty much covered the questions which I had in mind.

By Alan Newitt
On 08/09/2013

Roman baths on the downs; it was there in 1970. Such shame if gone. But a lot of places have been pulled down.  London is going like that: it's history; why can't they leave it alone?

By penny clarke
On 08/06/2016

Yes, The blue Lagoon and the Roman Baths and playing on the old AA gun emplacements near Monkey Hill, Our secret part of the world, Not so secret anymore.

By Pete Robbins
On 16/06/2016

How do I  get to the Roman Baths in Thundersley?


By penny
On 16/06/2016

Still there Penny......follow the directions as I described in my earlier post and you can still see the copse that hides it :) Before the Olympics the path that went through the valley-where the mountain bike course was being built,was closed and a new temporary path was created that took you past the "Roman baths".....I had a wander over to the pond to find it still as I remembered-steep sided,surrounded by thick scrub and a bit smelly, water was stagnant but ducks didn't mind!

By ellen hume
On 16/06/2016

Roman baths, I saw it in the 70s, it  never looked that well. I saw people swimming there, it was much cleaner then. I got there by Benfleet High Road entrance.

I still can't find it by going across Hadleigh Downs. Now it must be really dirty.  How could it have been so clean before? When was the Roman Bath built, please

By Penny Clarke
On 24/06/2016

Thanks Ellen Hume could I ask you another question please, is it possible to get a map? I went yesterday, I could not find the roman bath I did get photos of Hadleigh castle and the views, but I put them on somewhere else. Pity really. 

By Miss p.Clarke
On 27/06/2016

If I remember right David Hurrell may be able to help.....David can you help re: a map showing the position of the Iron pond(Roman baths)?? I am hoping he will read the mean time I will see if I can find a map showing the pond! :)

{Ed: the 6-figure Map reference for Iron Pond AKA The Roman Baths is: TQ806859
It's still there, but very overgrown, within the extension to Hadleigh (Castle Country) Park but not within the SSSI. It was created by the SA for Brick Works III.}

By ellen hume
On 06/07/2016

I am at Thundersley right now;  still can't find the iron pond,  tried four times! Can someone send me a map reference for the Roman bath?  I'd be very grateful, Penny. 

By penny clarke
On 29/08/2016
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