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Things to do in Bradwell on Sea, Essex

Marina Office Bradwell on Sea
Marina Office © Tim Sheerman Chase via Flickr

Bradwell-on-Sea is a small Essex village on the Dengie peninsula, near where the River Blackwater meets the North Sea.

With a population of 877 at the last count, it is a delightfully unspoilt place to visit.

Located in the district of Maldon, the nearest town is Southminster 9 km (5 miles) away or Colchester 30 km (19 miles) to the west.

Look out Tower Bradwell on sea shore.
Look Out Tower © Colour of Your Smile via Flickr

In Roman times the community was recorded as Othona and it had a defensive sea fort that had 12-foot thick walls and a moat, but little has survived.

The Anglo-Saxons knew the area as Ithancester and it has also been called Bradwell-juxta-Mare and Bradwell-next-the-Sea in its long history.

In 653 AD Saint Cedd was sent by Pope Gregory to found a monastery and bring Christianity to Essex.

The building has survived as the old chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall and it is the oldest church in England.

St Peter's Chapel Bradwell
St Peter's Chapel © fourthandfifteen via Flickr

When a new church was built in the centre of Bradwell, the old church building was used as a navigational aid to shipping. By the 17th century, it was being used by a farmer as a barn.

However, in 1920 it was restored and reconsecrated although the chancel, apse and tower were long gone.

Today St Peter's Chapel remains a place of pilgrimage and is always open.

In the 13th century, Bradwell built a quay and from it, wool was exported. Records from 1478 show a ship called the Christopher carried wool from Bradwell Quay to Calais.

Panorama of Bradwell Marina
Panorama of Bradwell Marina © Tim Sheerman Chase via Flickr

During World War II, Bradwell Bay Airport was the home of RAF Bradwell Bay, a fighter base for 25 different squadrons.

Today, visitors can see the old runways, control tower and a mosquito plane erected as a monument in memory of those who died in combat.

In more recent times, Bradwell-on-Sea hit the headlines as the site of the Bradwell nuclear power station.

It was closed in 2002 and has since been decommissioned.


Present Day Bradwell-on-Sea

Bradwell-on-Sea is a pleasant village with odd houses from various centuries lining the main street.

The village is not really "on sea"; it is about a mile from the Blackwater Estuary.

Marina Pre Dawn
Marina Pre Dawn © Tim Sheerman Chase via Flickr

This historic village has a 16th-century inn, The Green Man, which was once a smugglers inn.

Overlooking the Blackwater Estuary it has a pretty beer garden and an inglenook fireplace in the bar which offers a cosy welcome.

The Church of St Thomas was built in the 14th-century to serve the village in place of St Peter's Church.

The square tower was added in the 18th-century. The village still has an old village jail with stocks and a pillory nearby.

Famous residents from Bradwell-on-Sea include the 16th century priest, Thomas Abel, Sir Henry Bate Dudley and journalist and MP Tom Driberg, also known as Baron Bradwell.


Things to do in Bradwell-on-Sea

The Blackwell Estuary offers excellent opportunities for watersports and the village has an excellent sailing club.

Bradwell Nuclear Power Station
Bradwell Nuclear Power Station © Tim Sheerman Chase via Flickr

Hikers and bird watchers enjoy the local scenery which is ideal for long walks beside the sea.

Take a walk along the track to the remote St Peter's Chapel or join in the annual Bradwell Pilgrimage in early July.

Inside, the chapel is very plain with a simple stone altar and a cross depicting Christ with St Cedd.

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