There are a wide range of historic buildings across Essex, a couple of castles, and some coastal forts. The directory below links to further details for each of them, and a few Essex Days Out Tips.
Larger Historic Buildings
Audley End House and Gardens
Off London Road, Saffron Walden, CB11 4JF
A wonderful English Heritage property near Saffron Walden. Lots to see and do, particularly if it’s one of their special event days, when there will be too much to see and do in one day! more details
East Tilbury, RM18 8PB
A Victorian coastal defence fort set in parkland next to the river Thames at East Tilbury, Essex, completed in 1874, to defend the approaches to London from the perceived threat of invasion from France. more details
Castle Park, Colchester, CO1 1TJ
An enormous Norman Keep (bigger than The Tower of London!). Now a museum, guided tours get you to see much more of the building (the dungeons and the roof!) Re-opened in Spring 2014 after a major renovation, and well worth a visit. more details
Copped Hall, Crown Hill, nr. Epping
Copped Hall is a fine Georgian mansion that is currently under restoration, following decades of neglect and vandalism. Seeing the restoration work and the bare bones of the mansion is amazing! more details
Cressing Temple Barns
Witham Road, Braintree, CM77 8PD
“Cressing Temple takes its unusual name from the medieval monks of the Knights Templar who founded the two vast wooden barns, which form the centrepiece of this delightful rural estate.” Lots of events during the year, and a lovely walled garden. more details
Grange Hill, Coggeshall, CO6 1RE
“One of Europe’s oldest timber-framed buildings, it has a cathedral-like interior and is linked to a local Cistercian abbey. Inside the barn hosts an exhibition of local woodcarving, tools and a collection of agricultural carts.” more details
Hadleigh Country Park, Hadleigh, SS7 2PP
“The romantic ruins of a royal castle overlooking the Essex marshes. Begun in about 1215 and extensively refortified by Edward III during the Hundred Years War.” An English Heritage property but there is no charge for entry, as you can walk around the towers in the middle of Hadleigh Park. more details
29 Main Road, Harwich, CO12 3LT
“An extremely impressive 180ft (60m) diameter circular fort built in 1808 to defend the port of Harwich against a Napoleonic invasion. It is the only such example open to the public.” more details
Bayley Street, Castle Hedingham, CO9 3DJ
Hedingham Castle’s Norman keep has four floors to explore, including a magnificent Banqueting Hall spanned by one of the largest Norman arches in England. In addition to the castle and the grounds, look out for the many events they have throughout the year. more details
London Road, Chelmsford, CM2 8WQ
A beautifully restored house dating from 1730, sitting with 574 acres of parkland, ponds and gardens, a stableyard visitors centre, with working horses and events, workshops and activities.
Hall Lane, Ingatestone, CM4 9NR
Ingatestone Hall has been in the hands of the Petre family since it was built by Sir William Petre in the 16th Century. It retains a lot of its original character both outside, and on the inside in those rooms open to the public, which are dark, and little changed from centuries past. The house and grounds are open a couple of days a week during the summer, and they host concerts, events and re-enactments. more details
Layer Marney Tower
Layer Marney, C05 9US
Layer Marney Tower is a beautiful Tudor building, boasting the largest Tudor gatehouse in the country. Surrounded by formal gardens and parkland with magnificent views to the Blackwater estuary, they are open during the summer, and have special events to look out for. more details
Stansted Mountfitchet, CM24 8SP
A recreation of a medieval motte and bailey castle, with a range of activities for children throughout the year. In addition to the castle, there are fallow deer to feed and also a Toy Museum to visit. more details
25 West Street, Coggeshall, CO6 1NS
Built around 1500 for Thomas Paycocke, and now National Trust, the house, with its stunning woodcarving and elaborate panelling, is a grand example of the wealth generated by the cloth trade in Essex in the 16th century. Outside, there is a beautiful and tranquil cottage garden. more details
Priors Hall Barn
“One of the finest surviving medieval barns in eastern England, tree-ring dated to the mid-15th century, with a breathtaking aisled interior and crown post roof, the product of some 400 oaks.” An English Heritage property south of Saffron Walden.more details
Priory Park, Victoria Avenue, Southend on Sea, SS2 6NB
Following a closure lasting three years the Priory reopened to the public in June 2012. It is the oldest continuously occupied building in Southend, from the Cluniac Monks in the 13th Century to the Victorian Family, the Scrattons, the last to live in this wonderful home.” more details
Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge
Rangers Road, Chingford, E4 7QH.
The Lodge, originally known as the Great Standing, was built for Henry VIII in 1543. It is a peaceful and atmospheric building set in the historic semi-natural woodland of Epping Forest, five minutes’ walk from Chingford Station. more details
Park Ln, Southend-on-Sea SS1 2TE
A stunning moated medieval house tucked away in Southend. Built as a hall house, it is now surrounded by houses from many different times; from the Victorian period, the 1930’s through to the 1970’s.
Tilbury, Essex RM18 6NR.
Tilbury Fort on the Thames estuary has protected London’s seaward approach from the 16th century through to the Second World War. The present fort is much the best example of its type in England, with its circuit of moats and bastioned outworks. An English Heritage property.
Smaller Historic Buildings
Bourne Road, Colchester, CO2 8RT
Phone: 01206 572422
“A delightful piece of late Elizabethan playfulness. Built for banquets and converted into a mill in the 19th century. Bourne Mill is set in tranquil grounds next to a millpond and a bubbling stream. The mill is adorned with Elizabethan stepped ‘Dutch’ gables and still has a working waterwheel, which was originally used for milling flour.”
Essex Days Out Tips : You can walk alone a tributary to the Colne, passing a couple of other mills and ending up at the Colne Lightship : details here.
Visit Flatford and discover the landscape that inspired the most famous British landscape artist John Constable. Walk down to the Mill and Bridge Cottage to see the very spot where the famous Haywain was painted. You can walk along the banks of the beautiful River Stour to Dedham or Manningtree, plus there is a National Trust tearoom and shop, and an RSPB wildlife garden.
Chapel of St Peter on the Wall
A uniquely spiritual place, a chapel, founded by St. Cedd in 654AD. St. Peter’s is set in one of the wildest and most remote parts of Essex. Visit in winter when the wind is blowing hard off the North Sea. Afterwards visit nearby Bradwell on Sea for a warming drink, a drink in the pub and a look around the shops.
The Walls, Mistley, Essex
Two porticoed Classical towers, which stood at each end of a Georgian church, which was designed by Robert Adam in 1776. View them as part of a walk around Mistley or a drive along the Stour Estuary
St. Botolph’s Priory
Priory Street, Colchester, Essex
The remains of one of the first Augustinian priories in England,it is an impressive example of early Norman architecture, built in flint and reused Roman brick. The church has massive circular pillars and round arches and an elaborate west front. Closed down by Henry VIII during the Reformation, it was later badly damaged by cannon fire during the Civil War siege. Visit the gateway as part of a walk around Colchester to uncover the 2,000 year history of the town.
St. John’s Abbey Gateway
St. John’s Green, Colchester, Essex
This gatehouse, is the only surviving part of the Benedictine abbey of St John, built around 1400 to strengthen the abbey’s defenses following the Peasants’ Revolt. It was later part of the mansion of the Royalist Lucas family. During the Civil War siege of Colchester it was bombarded and stormed by parliamentarian soldiers. Visit the gateway as part of a walk around Colchester to uncover the 2,000 year history of the town.
Waltham Abbey Gatehouse and Bridge
“A fine 14th century gatehouse, bridge and other remains of the abbey refounded by Harold, last Saxon King of England.” Open : all year round.
If there’s anything we’ve missed, do get in touch!