Essex lies between England's East Coast and London and has so much to offer including 350 miles of coastline and the longest pleasure pier in the world, to fabulous stately homes and delightful market towns. More than 70 percent of the county is rural and the beautiful undulating landscapes have inspired generations of artists including John Constable.
Served by Stansted Airport
, Harwich Ferry
Port and good rail links from nearby London
, visitors will have no difficulty travelling to Essex for a relaxing short break or holiday.
Saffron Walden is an ancient town and takes its name from the Saffron Crocus, which grew here in the 16th C. Once a centre for wool production, the wealth generated has left many fine timber-framed buildings, some decorated with pargetting. The parish church with its elegant spire is one of the largest in Essex.
Nearby is Audley End House and Park (English Heritage) one of England's grandest stately homes.
Thaxted offers quaint streets lined with fine medieval buildings, including the 15th C. Guildhall and thatched Almshouses. Nearby Finchingfield is a picturesque village with a lovely duck pond and green. You can also enjoy the 18th C Postmill at Duck End. Great Bardfield offers some good family entertainment at the Nurture Barn and there is also the Blue Egg play area and shop.
Castle Hedingham is a quaint medieval village with winding lanes, timber-framed building and elegant Georgian houses, plus the magnificent 12th C. Hedingham Castle Keep, just south Braintree is a bustling market town standing on the old Roman Road, and also has the Freeport Designer Outlet Village nearby. Coggeshall is a popular antiques centre and there are many fine timber-framed buildings including the 16th C. Paycockes, once home to a wealthy wool merchant. Nearby you can visit Marks Hall Garden & Arboretum.
Colchester is Britain's oldest recorded town, with over 2,000 years of history to explore. The Norman Castle Keep is the largest in Europe and is an award winning museum. Nearby are the quaint narrow streets of the Dutch Quarter, where the cloth industry once flourished. There are excellent shopping and leisure facilities and lovely parkland and gardens to explore. Colchester Zoo
is one of Europe's finest Zoos with over 200 species in 60 acres of garden.
Not far away is Layer Marney Tower
- a 1520 Tudor-brick gatehouse, 8 storeys high with Italianate terracotta cresting and windows. The Beth Chatto Gardens
at Elmstead Market are very popular with the huge variety of plants and the lovely water garden. Manningtree & Mistley are small towns at the head of the Stour estuary and are joined by a waterfront area, noted for its swans. To the north, Dedham on the River Stour is in the heart of Constable Country, and it was here that the 18th C. landscape artist went to school. The attractive main street is lined with Georgian-fronted houses, lovely old inns, quaint little shops and large arts & craft centre.
Harwich & Dovercourt Harwich is famous for its sea-faring history and heritage. It was once the headquarters of the King's Navy, and home of Christopher Jones 'Master of the Mayflower'. In town you will find narrow streets, historic buildings and museums, including the Redoubt Fort.
Neighbouring Dovercourt is an Edwardian style resort with sandy beaches, boating lake and park. On the Stour Estuary is the RSPB Stour Estuary Nature Reserve, one of the most important estuaries in Britain for breeding birds.
Just further round the coast Walton-on-the-Naze is a family seaside resort with clean sandy beaches, seafront gardens and quaint narrow streets. The Pier is the second longest in Britain. The Naze is a headland jutting into the sea, where the heathland nature reserve is a haven for birdwatchers.
Further round Frinton-on-Sea has a reputation of an exclusive resort and retains an atmosphere of the 1920s and 30s. Tree-lined residential avenues sweep done to the elegant Esplanade and cliff-top greensward. The long stretch of sandy beach is quiet and secluded while the main shopping street - Connaught Avenue has often been called the "Bond Street" of East Anglia.
Continuing along the coast Clacton-on-Sea is the capital of the 'Essex Sunshine Coast' and is a very popular seaside town with tree-lines streets, long sandy beaches and beautiful seafront gardens. The 19th C. pier offers a range of entertainment and attractions, with water sports, theatres and shopping areas nearby. Along the Essex Coast near Clacton a new Curve Wake Park is being developed (for Spring 2017) on the lake at St Osyth - great fun for those that would like to try wake boarding and paddle boarding!
There is also the Clacton Factory Shopping Village on the outskirts. Brightlingsea is at the mouth of the River Colne and is a major yachting centre with one of the best stretches of sailing o the East Coast. It is also home to one of England's oldest timber-framed buildings, the 13th C. Jacobes Hall. There are some superb walks alongside the creek and river.
Chelmsford is the county town of Essex and has an imposing 18th C. Shire Hall. There is a pedestrian shopping centre and excellent entertainment and leisure facilities. Nearby you will find RHS Garden Hyde Hall with 28 acres of garden with year round interest, including dry garden, roses, perennial borders and alpines. Ingatestone Hall stands in open countyrside and retains its original Tudor appearance.
To the east of Chelmsford Maldon is an ancient hilltop town, port and sailing centre, at the head of the Blackwater estuary. There are attractive lanes and 'chases', with many historic buildings, including the 15th C. Moot Hall. Heading west Epping is just south of the famous Epping Forest covering some 6,000 acres. This former royal hunting ground was the haunt of legendary highwayman Dick Turpin.
Southend-on-Sea is a traditional family seaside resort with seven miles of seafront, award winning beaches and magnificent parks and gardens. The famous pier is one of the longest in the world at 1.34 miles and you can take a ride to the end of the Pier on little trains. There is also an Adventure Island Theme Park and excellent shopping centre. To the west Billericay is home to the Barleylands Farm Centre offering fun for the whole family. Children can explore the adventure playground or race around the farm on mini tractors. There are plenty of friendly farm animals to enjoy!So, if you're looking to stay on a farm in Essex, please use the search links on the left of this page with ‘Essex’ as your location. Images supplied by Visitessex.com