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Things to do in Essex


Essex is situated in East Anglia, close to England's capital city, London. Whatever your interest, there is lots of choice in Essex with archaeology, history, coastline with seaside resorts, delightful countryside for walking, cycling and horse riding, nine country parks, busy towns and pretty villages to explore.

Chelmsford, the County town of Essex, is one of the County's best shopping centres and an ideal base for exploring the County.

Chelmsford is famous as the home of Essex County Cricket Club and as the town where the Marconi Company set up the first radio company in the world, in the late1890's. You can learn about the town's history at Chelmsford Museum in Oaklands Park.

Colchester is the oldest town in Britain, with documented evidence of a settlement here as early as the fifth century BC. Picture courtesy of www.britainonview.com. Colchester is traditionally known for its cloth weaving, flower growing and oysters.

You can visit the Norman castle and museum, and also the Dutch Quarter where Flemish refugees settled in the sixteenth century.

Nearby is beautiful Dedham Vale and Constable Country in the north east; and the yachting and wildlife havens of Mersea Island and the Colne Picture courtesy of www.britainonview.com.

On the 'sunshine coast' you'll find the towns of Clacton-on-Sea, Walton-on-the-Naze, and Harwich.

Clacton-on-Sea is popular with families, with miles of golden sandy beaches and the fun packed pier.

Walton-on-the-Naze Picture courtesy of www.britainonview.com.has a good beach and the second longest pier in Britain, with one of the world's oldest amusement parks. Inland the Naze Tower dominates the area, which is rich in flora and fauna.

Frinton-on-Sea is tranquil and unspoiled, with golden beaches and tree lined avenues. The town has many interesting shops and the church of St. Mary has fine panels of stained glass by William Morris and Burne Jones.

In Harwich you can discover sixteen sites of historic interest by following the 'Harwich Maritime Trail'. The interesting towns of Manningtree and Mistley, which lie at the gateway to Constable Country, are also worth visiting.

Maldon is famous for the production of Maldon salt. In Maldon you can visit The Hythe, where the Thames sailing barges are moored, and explore the steep winding streets with intriguing inns and shops.

Picture courtesy of www.britainonview.com.Southend-on-Sea is the largest town in Essex, a vibrant resort with seven miles of sparkling seafront, and a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Don't miss Southend Pier - which is the world's longest pier. At nearby Leigh on Sea you can watch the local fishermen bring in the days catch.

In South Essex, Brentwood is a busy town with good shopping and leisure facilities. The town is surrounded by open countryside, which is part of the Metropolitan Green Belt, and the centre of town is only a short walk from pleasant woods and commons.

Essex Tourist Information is available at Waltham Abbey, where you can also visit the 16th Century timber framed buildings of the Epping Forest District Museum and Royal Gunpowder Mills steam-powered mill. The town is a gateway into the Lee Valley Country Park, with plenty of countryside and Picture courtesy of www.britainonview.com.leisure activities.

Saffron Walden, once famous for its cultivation of saffron crocuses, is a delightful town in the north west of the County. Saffron Walden's beautiful church is the largest in Essex, dating from the prosperous years of the saffron industry in the late 15th century. The many timber framed buildings with fine plasterwork, and the intriguing alleyways around the market place contribute to the town's charm. There is a tourist information centre in Market Place.

Braintree is a bustling market town, good for shopping, restaurants, arts and entertainment. The surrounding rolling countryside offers good walking, cycling and golf.

Days out in Essex

  • Audley End
    Audley End, in Essex, is one of English Heritage's grandest stately homes. With its working Victorian stables, Jacobean architecture and Capability Brown landscaping.
    Audley End
  • Beth Chatto Gardens
    The Beth Chatto Gardens began in 1960. From an overgrown wasteland with poor gravel soil and boggy hollows, it has been transformed into an informal garden harmonising with the surrounding countryside.
    Beth Chatto Gardens
  • Bourne Mill
    The mill was originally built as a fishing lodge in 1591 and features stepped Dutch gables. It was converted to a mill for fulling (a process in cloth manufacture) and later flour milling.
    Bourne Mill
  • Coggeshall Grange Barn
    One of the oldest timber-framed Barns in Europe, dating from the 13th century. It was the barn of the Cistercian monastery of Coggeshall.
    Coggeshall Grange Barn
  • Colchester Zoo
    Colchester Zoo is now one of the finest Zoos in Europe due to a constant programme of development.
    Colchester Zoo
  • Colne Valley Railway and Museum
    A large and varied collection of operational vintage steam and diesel engines, carriages and wagons that represent much of our Railway Heritage are available to see.
    Colne Valley Railway and Museum
  • Flatford Bridge Cottage
    This thatched sixteenth century cottage is at the heart of Constable Country. It houses a display about the artist who features Bridge Cottage in several of his paintings.
    Flatford Bridge Cottage
  • Hatfield Forest National Nature Reserve
    Hatfield Forest is a rare surviving example of a medieval hunting forest. It has over 1,000 acres of woodland and pasture, some wonderful 400 year old pollarded trees, two ornamental lakes and an eighteenth century Shell House.
    Hatfield Forest National Nature Reserve
  • Hedingham Castle
    Come and see England's finest and best preserved Norman Keep. Children love to explore the interior of the castle which is 110 feet high with walls 12 feet thick.
    Hedingham Castle
  • Ingatestone Hall
    Ingatestone Hall is a sixteenth century manor house built by Sir William Petre, Secretary of State to four Tudor Monarchs.
    Ingatestone Hall
  • Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker
    Inside a rural bungalow nestling in the Essex countryside lies the twilight world of the Government Cold War. Behind the blast screens that protect this bungalow is the entrance to an amazing labyrinth of rooms built into a hillside.
    Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker
  • Layer Marney Tower
    Layer Marney Tower was built between 1515 and 1525 and is the tallest Tudor Gatehouse in the country. Henry 1st Lord Marney was Henry VIII's Lord Privy Seal and he built himself a house which was, he thought, magnificent enough for a person of his po
    Layer Marney Tower
  • Maeldune Heritage Centre
    Maeldune Heritage Centre is the home of the 42 foot Maldon embroidery which celebrates the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Maldon.
    Maeldune Heritage Centre
  • Mangapps Railway Museum
    Mangapps has one of the largest collections of historic railway items on public display in Britain.
    Mangapps Railway Museum
  • Marsh Farm Country Park
    Marsh Farm Country Park is a demonstration of a commercial working farm and is firm favourite with children who love getting up close to farm animals from chickens, pigs, sheep and cows.
    Marsh Farm Country Park
  • Mountfitchet Castle Experience
    Travel back in time to medieval England of 1066 as you wander through Mountfitchet Castle and Norman village at this world famous unique living heritage site.
    Mountfitchet Castle Experience
  • Paycockes House
    This fine half-timbered house is evidence of the wealth generated by the East Anglian wool trade in the 15th and 16th centuries. It contains unusually rich panelling and wood carving.
    Paycockes House
  • RHS Garden Hyde Hall
    Nestled in the heart of rural Essex, Hyde Hall is an oasis of peace and tranquillity providing somewhere to watch the changing seasons and get closer to nature.
    RHS Garden Hyde Hall
  • Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum
    Castle House and its Collection is a fitting memorial to Sir Alfred Munnings, KCVO, PRA, who lived at Castle House from 1919 until his death in 1959.
    Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum

Places to Visit in Essex

  • Basildon
    Basildon is a large town in Essex with approximately 170,000 residents. It is situated 25 miles east of London.
  • Bradwell on Sea
    Bradwell-on-Sea is a small Essex village on the Dengie peninsula, near where the River Blackwater meets the North Sea.
    Bradwell on Sea
  • Braintree
    Braintree is a bustling town in Essex, about 10 miles north east of Chelmsford and 40 miles from London.
  • Brentwood
    Brentwood is a pleasant bustling town in south west Essex, 20 miles north east of London and just outside the M25.
  • Chelmsford
    Chelmsford is at the heart of social and economic life of Essex - and has been for 800 years. To this day Chelmsford is a thriving community and maintains its position as a premier commercial, retail and leisure location.
  • Clacton-on-Sea
    The seaside town of Clacton-on -Sea was once upon a time a buzzing holiday hotspot on the East Anglian Essex coast.
  • Colchester
    The historic town of Colchester is located in Essex, 23 miles northeast of Chelmsford and 61 miles from London.
  • Copford
    Copford is largely an agricultural village situated 5 miles to the west of Colchester. It is easily accessible thanks to its close proximity to the A12, being just 1/2 a mile form the A120/Stanstead turn-off.
  • Dedham
    Dedham is an idyllic Old English country village in Essex, on the border with neighbouring Suffolk.
  • Epping Green
    Epping Green is a small village situated on the B181 between Epping and Harlow The village is in the parish of Epping Upland which stretches from the Wake Arms near Upshire to the outskirts of Harlow.
    Epping Green
  • Finchingfield
    Described as picture-postcard pretty, Finchfield is an idyllic Essex village complete with village pond, redbrick cottages and a white 18th century windmill.

  • Frinton-on-Sea
    Frinton-on-Sea is a seaside town, fifteen miles from the historic town of Colchester on the Essex Coast.
  • Goldhanger
    We have just received a description of Goldhanger from one of our readers. This description is currently being prepared for publication and will appear on this page within the next few days.
  • Grays
    Grays, situated on the North bank of the Thames, 4 miles East of the M25 and Dartford, is only about 25 miles from London. The 2,872 metre QEII Bridge, also some 4 miles away, is the longest cable stayed bridge in Europe.
  • Great Bardfield
    Great Bardfield is a small village near finchingfield.It has its own museum in the centre and Bardfield cage, which was used for the punishment of unsavoury characters. It has a beautiful church and a fine collection of houses.
    Great Bardfield
  • Great Bentley
    Great Bently is a large village eight miles from Colchester and five miles from Clacton and the Essex Coast.
    Great Bentley
  • Great Clacton
    Great Clacton is a mile from Clacton-on-Sea town centre and seafront. It was originally a distinct village in its own right from the resort of Clacton-on-Sea; however it now merges into one large development.
    Great Clacton
  • Great Holland
    Great Holland is a quiet, pleasant village situated between Frinton and Clacton with the sea visible in the distance. The offshore wind farm at Gunfleet Sands sandbank is now clearly visible and is due to begin operating in August 2009.
    Great Holland
  • Harlow
    The Essex town of Harlow is one of number of "new" towns constructed largely in the 1950's/60's. It was designed to be one of a number of satellite towns which were built to facilitate the overspill population from London.
  • Horndon on the Hill
    Horndon-on-the-Hill is listed in the Doomsday Book as Horninduna. This name appears on a Saxon coin of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066AD) and suggests that Horninduna was once the site of a Royal Anglo-Saxon mint.
  • Kirby Cross
    Kirby Cross and Kirby-le-Soken are two villages close to the seaside resorts of Frinton and Walton, which are a mile away.
    Kirby Cross
  • Langford
    Langford is a tiny hamlet situated between Hatfield Peverel and Heybridge on the B1019. It has been an agricultural village for centuries, but is perhaps more famous now for the Waterworks which was built in 1927
  • Leigh-on-Sea
    Leigh-on-Sea is an old town in Essex, steeped in history and tradition.
  • Little Bentley
    Little Bentley is a small village situated between the A120 (Colchester - Harwich) and the A133 (Colchester - Clacton). Little Bentley has won the Essex Best Kept Village Award a number of times.
    Little Bentley
  • Little Clacton
    Little Clacton is a pleasant village on the outskirts of Great Clacton and Clacton town centre, it is situated approximately three miles from Weeley and Thorpe-Le-Soken.
    Little Clacton
  • Maldon
    The Essex town of Maldon is on the Blackwater Estuary about 10 miles east of Chelmsford.
  • Messing
    A very tidy village steeped in history, this small Essex village is a very pretty place that doesn't resemble its name in the slightest! This was how a magazine started its feature on our village recently.
  • Orsett
    Orsett was the original seat of local government for the area and the site of a palace of the Bishop of London in medieval times. The village lock-up last used as a prison in 1848, and the animal pound still exist.
  • Purfleet
    Purfleet features in Bram Stoker's novel Dracula in which the famous vampire buys a house called 'Carfax' and lives in Purfleet.
  • Rettendon
    Rettendon is a quite widely spread village and includes the hamlet of Battlesbridge which is on the tidal River Crouch. The parish church is All Saints and sits on the hill just off the main road to Chelmsford.
  • Saffron Walden
    Saffron Walden is in an unspoilt rural area of Essex, about 50 miles north of London, and it is as pretty as its name suggests.
    Saffron Walden
  • Shoeburyness
    Shoeburyness is a small town of 20,000 residents and a peninsula, or ness, which juts out into the sea at the estuary of the River Thames. This Essex town is 3 miles east of Southend and 44 miles from London.
  • South Benfleet
    The lovely town of South Benfleet is 30 miles east of London in Essex.
  • Southend
    Southend-on-Sea, often known simply as Southend, is a popular seaside resort in Essex. It is on the north side of the Thames Estuary about 40 miles from the centre of London.
  • Southminster
    Ten miles southeast of Maldon lies the town of Southminster on the Dengie peninsula of Essex.
  • St. Osyth
    St Osyth is a historic village in Essex located between Colchester< and Clacton-on-Sea.
  • Stansted Mountfitchet
    When wondering how best to describe the Saxon village of Stansted Mountfitchet to a possible tourist, the phrase, "big things come in small packages" springs to mind.
  • Strethall
    Anyone with any doubts about the beauty of the Essex countryside should visit Strethall in mid August on a day when the sun is shining down on the golden cornfields and the harvest is well and truly underway.
  • Thorpe le Soken
    Thorpe Le-Soken dates from Saxon times and has a number of historic houses and buildings providing the village with a character distinct from Frinton, Clacton or Walton which developed as seaside resorts. Much of the village has changed re
    Thorpe le Soken
  • Thurrock
    Thurrock is situated in the south-west of Essex and borders the north bank of the River Thames. Thurrock is the gateway to London with easy access to both Kent and Essex via the M25 motorway.
  • Walton on the Naze
    Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex is a delightful Victorian styled seaside town and popular holiday resort, which has remained largely untouched since the 1950s.
    Walton on the Naze
  • Weeley
    Weeley village is eleven miles from Colchester, seven miles west of Walton and five miles from Clacton. The main road to Frinton and Walton passes through, busy with traffic although off the main road the village itself is less busy
  • West Tilbury
    West Tilbury was the site chosen for the Camp Royal in 1588 to prepare for the threatened Spanish invasion.

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