The Mardyke (sometimes, but less frequently, Mar Dyke, occasionally
Mardike) is a small river, mainly in Thurrock, that flows into the
River Thames at Purfleet, close to the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge. In
part, it forms the boundary between the
Essex hundreds of Barstable
and Chafford. The river gives its name to the Mardyke Valley—a
project aimed at increasing appreciation and usage of recreational
land around the Mardyke.
1 Location, source and tributaries
4 Recreation and wildlife
5 See also
Location, source and tributaries
The main source of the Mardyke in Holden's Wood
The main source of the Mardyke is in Holden's Wood between Great
Warley and Little Warley. It flows roughly 11 miles (18 km)
from the source to the
Tideway of the Thames at Purfleet, close to the
Queen Elizabeth II Bridge. There are two tributaries flowing south
from Thorndon Country Park, in the grounds of Thorndon Hall. One of
these flows south from Old Hall Pond. The pond has a sluice gate that
could be opened to allow the water to flow over an artificial
waterfall – the sort of water feature popular with landscape
gardeners such as
Lancelot "Capability" Brown
Lancelot "Capability" Brown who landscaped the
Thorndon Hall in the 18th century, although the pond itself
dates from the 13th century. Another tributary flows west from
Dunton Plotlands section of the Langdon Nature Reserve in Langdon
Hills and another flows east from Upminster.
The name means "boundary ditch". It is mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon
charter dated 1062 (S 1036) as part of the boundary for Upminster,
although this charter is probably a post-conquest forgery. It has
also been called "the Flete" (flete is derived from flēot, an Old
English word for "small estuary") and more simply "the brook". One
of the Mardyke's tributaries flows from Childerditch. This name
appears as "celta" in a 7th-century charter (S 1246). Celta may be the
pre-Saxon name for the ditch which flows into the Mardyke and may
also be an early name for the Mardyke itself. For most of its
course, the river acts as a parish boundary and in part, the river
forms the boundary between the
Essex hundreds of Barstable and
Stifford and the Rainham marshes where the Mardyke enters the
Thames, the river flows through a relatively steep sided valley formed
by an earlier position of the Thames. There is ancient woodland on
the valley slopes and the land close to the river was used for
grazing. Pollen evidence from the Mardyke valley shows that there was
woodland regeneration at the end of the Roman period and into the
early Anglo-Saxon period.
There is a substantial bridge over the Mardyke at Stifford. A medieval
stone bridge was built in 1487, although this has subsequently been
replaced more than once. Various archaeological objects have been
found in the Mardyke close to
Stifford Bridge. These include a
hammerstone, a small sword and a Pilgrim badge.
There was a water mill on the Mardyke at
Purfleet in the 14th century,
that was owned by the Knights Templar. From about 1760, sluice
gates protected the lowlying land through which the Mardyke flows from
the tidal and saline Thames.
The Mardyke was an important communication corridor connecting the
River Thames to the inland fen landscape to the northeast. In the
19th century and earlier, the Mardyke was navigable to Bulphan. Using
a network of drainage ditches, manure from London was brought to local
farms and agricultural produce taken to market. In the 18th
century, when the river was still tidal, it may have been navigable as
Orsett Hall at high tide.
During the first world war, a PoW camp was sited close to where the
Mardyke enters the Thames.
Recreation and wildlife
Part of the Mardyke Way at Bulphan
The river gives its name to the Mardyke Valley—a project aimed at
increasing the appreciation and usage of recreational land around the
Mardyke—which is a part of the
Thames Chase Community
Forest. The project includes a seven-mile riverside walk known as
the Mardyke Way, running from Ship Lane,
Orsett Fen. In
2005, the project received a grant of over £600,000 from the Heritage
Lottery Fund (HLF). The Mardyke Way passes through Davy Down, a 32
acres (13 ha) riverside park between
Lakeside Shopping Centre
Lakeside Shopping Centre and
South Ockendon that was opened in 1993. The park includes the
Stifford viaduct and the pumping station which is open to
the public on Thursday afternoons and at other times when the warden
is present. The flow of the Mardyke is very sluggish at this
point, allowing the growth of bur reed and common reed. The river
itself has been designated a wild life corridor, allowing flora and
fauna to move from one site to another.
To the north of the Mardyke Way close to Stifford, the river also
gives its name to Mardyke Woods, although these are actually a
combination of three ancient woods—Brannet's Wood, Millard's Wood
and Low Well Wood.
To the north of the river at
Stifford is the Mardyke Valley Golf Club,
an 18-hole (par 70) course set in the grounds of Ford Place and opened
Andrew Mackinlay MP opened a new bridge over the Mardyke at
Purfleet. This bridge – named the Veolia Mardyke Bridge – links
Purfleet to the Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve.
Tributaries of the River Thames
List of rivers of England
Thurrock Flood Risk Assessment
^ Thorndon Country Park
^ Reaney, PH (1935). The Place-names of Essex. CUP. p. 8.
^ a b Hart, Cyril (1971). The Early Charters of Essex. Leicester
University Press. ISBN 0-7185-2000-9.
^ Harrold, Christopher, ed. (2008). Exploring Thurrock.
History Society. p. 34. ISBN 0-9506141-4-9.
^ Reaney, PH (1935). The Place-names of Essex. Cambridge University
Press. p. 124. ISBN 0-521-07505-X.
^ Kemble, James (2007).
Essex Place-Names. Historical Publications.
^ Hunter, John (1999). The
Essex Record Office.
^ Rippon, Stephen (2008). Beyond the Medieval Village. Oxford
University Press. p. 168.
^ VCH, volume 8
^ The Archaeological Journal, 1869
^ Yellow Advertiser
^ VCH, volume 8
^ Land of the Fanns Landscape Character Assessment, Alison Farmer
^ Barges to
Thurrock Local History Society
^ British History Online
^ Catton, Jonathan (December 1999). "Well Hit". Panorama, The Journal
Thurrock Local History Society (39).
^ Mardyke Valley
Thames Chase Archived 11 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Recreational areas in
Thurrock Archived 8 June 2011 at the Wayback
Heritage Lottery Fund
Heritage Lottery Fund Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback
^ Davy Down Archived 17 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Davy Down,
Essex & Suffolk Water
^ Appendix 7 to
Thurrock Development Plan
^ Forestry Commission
^ Mardyke Valley Golf Club Archived 8 March 2012 at the Wayback
Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation Archived 19 July
2011 at the Wayback Machine.
Next confluence upstream
Next confluence downstream
River Ingrebourne (north)
River Darent (south)
Traditional parishes in Thurrock
Chadwell St Mary
Other places in Thurrock
Bill Meroy Creek
Chafford Gorges Nature Park
High House, Purfleet
Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve
Thurrock Thameside Nature Park
Historic buildings in Thurrock
Baker Street Mill, Orsett
High House, Purfleet
South Ockendon Windmill