Eastern England – Colchester and Essex

Colchester and Essex
1. Maldon and the Essex Coast
Only 40 miles N.E. of London, Maldon District is a rural area with over 60 miles of coastline. It retains a special character forged over the centuries by the Districts three rivers and the North Sea. The town’s links with the River Chelmer and Blackwater Estuary remain important, and Thames sailing barges can still be spotted at the quayside. Nearby Burnham-on-Crouch nestles amid the unspoilt Dengie Marshes. Traditional weather-boarded cottages blend in with new buildings to create a picturesque town popular with yachtsmen.

2. The Company Shed, Mersea Island
Located among the salt marshes and boatyards of West Mersea island, most of the fish for The Company Shed is bought from local fishermen, who dock just along the shore. Plain tables are squeezed among benches and you bring your own bread and wine. Never before will you have tasted such fresh-from-the-sea fish: order a seafood platter and tuck into a whole crab, prawns, mackerel, smoked salmon, cockles and giant, juicy crevettes. Lobster is often available too.

3. Hollytrees Museum, Colchester
In this vibrant museum, 300 years of history is delivered with humour and fun in mind, making it an ideal venue for families. One room is dedicated to childhood and is like a large playroom, with snakes and ladders incorporated into the floor, a crawling tunnel, ‘time out’ area for toddlers, and exciting displays celebrating Colchester’s famous nursery rhymes. Meet Isaac Calthrop, a sedan chair carrier, who will fill you in on all the local goings-on.

4. Traditional Yacht Charter
Traditional Charter of Maldon and Heybridge, Essex, offer a classic charter yacht for sailing around the east coast, and south coast of England. The Black Rose is a 50 ft wooden boat with traditional rigging, and is typical of the vessels that used to ply their trade between Great Yarmouth and Dover, and onward up to Tower Bridge in London. Enjoy enthralling and relaxing days out on the water: Bird-watching tours, Seal Trips, Coastal Ecology Wildlife Tours and Essex and Suffolk sailing holidays.

5. Paycocke’s Merchant’s House, Colchester
Paycocke’s is a Merchant’s house dating from around 1500, displaying the finest variety of domestic late Gothic/Tudor architecture. With its unusually intricate panelling and woodcarving, Paycocke’s shows the whealth of the area generated by the 15th and 16th century wool trade. Examine the examples of the famous Coggeshal lace displayed in the house and explore the peacefui and attractive cottage garden. A children’s trail runs through the house and garden, and there are special children’s events during summer.

6. Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker
Witness the three lives of Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker starting with its role as an RAF ROTOR Station, then a brief period as a civil defence centre through to its most recent life as a Regional Government HQ. It was designed for up to 600 military and civilian personnel, possibly even the Prime Minister, their collective task being to organise the survival of the population in the aftermath of a nuclear war. Watch films, try on authentic military uniforms and take part in a computerized quiz.

7. Colchester Castle Museum
A visit to Colchester Castle Museum takes you through 2000 years of some of the most important events in British history. Once capital of Roman Britain, Colchester has experienced devastation by Boudica (Boadicea), invasion by the Normans and siege during the English Civil War. Since the 16th century, the Castle has been a ruin, a library and a gaol for witches. Today it is an award winning museum featuring many hands-on displays showing Colchester’s history from the Stone Age to the Civil War.

8. Epping Forest Walks and Visitor Centre
Why not begin your exploration of Epping Forest at the Visitor Centre where a range of informative and interesting displays await you. Find out how kings and queens used the former royal hunting forest as their playground, and discover which animals and plants make the forest their home. Try your hand at brass rubbing and wildlife and woodland related children’s activities. A wide range of free leaflets, maps, books, and woodland and wildlife inspired souvenirs are available.

9. Wat Tyler Country Park and Sculpture Trail Wat Tyler Country Park sits within the South Essex Marshes which are steeped in history – a landscape created over many centuries through the interaction of human communities and the natural environment. The Exhibition at the Wat Tyler Centre explores the park’s history as an explosives factory and it’s future as a public open space and natural habitat. Make sure you check out the ‘Sonic Marshmallows’ in the sculpture park.

10. Bourne Mill, Colchester
Delightful Bourne Mill is set in tranquil grounds next to a millpond and a bubbling stream. Originally a fishing lodge it was built in 1591 with stepped ‘Dutch’ gables and later used as an Elizabethan banqueting hall. It was converted into a mill the 19th century, first for fulling cloth and then for milling flour, and still boasts a fully working water wheel.

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