Essex Travel Guide

Audley End House, Essex - © Paul W Wells

Introduction and Overview

The Essex Travel Guide explores the county of Essex located to the east of London outlining local attractions and tourist information for visitors. The area guide includes travel information on local transport and travel, events, facts & figures, entertainment, maps and accommodation.

The county has unfortunately been saddled with a reputation as little more than commuter county for Londoners requiring a bit more space. Whilst Essex is not blessed with as many famous landmarks and tourist attractions as some other English counties, it does have some nice places to visit and enjoy.

The unfortunate reputation should not discourage visitors from paying the area a visit.

The historic town of Colchester is located 22 miles from Chelmsford; it is famous for being one of the oldest recorded towns in the UK. Once famous for the woollen cloth industry, the town was one of the most prosperous wool towns in the England.

The town is famous for its Victorian architecture that can be seen in several historic buildings including the town hall. The town itself is surrounded by a rural landscape that has over the years inspired a number of leading artists.

Local attractions include the Grade I listed Colchester Castle where visitors with find the Colchester Castle Museum. The castle is a fine example of a Norman keep, inside the museum visitors can find a number of displays, artefacts and activities outlining the historic importance of the town to Roman Britain.

The Sir Alfred Munnings Art Museum is located in Castle House dating back to the Georgian and Tudor periods, located in scenic gardens, visitors can see a number of memorable paintings from the acclaimed artist.

Colchester Zoo is located amongst 60 acres of lakes and parklands; a few miles from the town centre. Here visitors can see over 250 species from all over the world including lions, tigers, leopards, komodo dragons, orangutans and more with over 40 daily displays and adventure and play areas

Braintree is located 12 miles from Chelmsford, the town has a rich history dating back to the bronze age; the town revolved in to an important market town and became known for the woollen cloth and silk weaving industries from the 14th to 18th centuries.

The historic town has been holding regular markets since the 12th century and still holds regular markets today on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Local attractions include the Braintree District Museum located in the town centre that outlines the local history, traditions and industrial heritage of the town.

The Warner Archive showcases the history of textile manufacture dating back to the 18th century and includes examples of woven and printed fabrics produced by Warner’s, photos, printed textiles and achieve documents from nearly 500 years of history. The collection is located inside a Grade II listed building offering a glimpse in to the past.

Great Notley Country Park provides 100 acres of open space offering a great place to enjoy a walk, cycle, horse ride and enjoy the unspoilt local countryside. Braintree is a popular destination among shoppers with plenty of high street shops and outlets along with smaller specialist shops and boutiques.

The Freeport Braintree is a discounted designer village with a range shops, outlets and boutiques from well known brands; facilities include a choice of restaurants and cinema.

The city of Chelmsford is the county city of Essex; the city is centrally located in the county providing an ideal place from which visitors can explore the area. Located 35 miles from London there are good road and rail links to the capital and Stansted airport.

The city is one of the newest cities in the UK having been granted city status in 2012, once a historic market town, there are still regular markets held in the city.

Historically the city was home to the engineering and defence industry, in recent years the city has become popular with those working in the city of London attracted by the good transport links and greater space available.

The main High Street is pedestrianised; two of the main shopping areas include High Chelmer and The Meadows, the facilities make it one of the premier shopping destinations in Essex.

The city centre includes a number of bars, cafes, a range of traditional and contemporary pubs and restaurants serving international cuisines.

Local attractions include the historic 15th century Chelmsford Cathedral, a Grade II* listed building known for its gothic architecture. Chelmsford Museum showcases local history and the rich industrial heritage of the area.

Hylands House is located a few miles from the city centre; the impressive Grade II* listed building dates back to the 18th century located in over 550 acres of landscaped parklands and woodlands.

Saffron Walden is a scenic medieval town located 30 miles north from Chelmsford in the heart of the Essex countryside. The market town dates back to the Bronze and Iron ages, it was known for the wool, malt and barley industries and saffron flower.

History is well preserved in the town, Saffron Walden was designated a Conservation Area back in 1968 and there are approx 400 buildings of historic and special architectural interest. The Saffron Walden Town Trail takes visitors to some of the most historic and charming buildings in the town.

Local attractions include St Mary’s Church Saffron Walden, dating back to the 15th century, it is the largest church in Essex and the height of its tower and spire is 193 feet making it a very recognisable local landmark.

The ruins of Walden Castle are a 12th century former castle that is a scheduled monument and a Grade I listed building.

Bridge End Garden are a series of gardens dating back to the 19th century; the Grade II listed gardens have been restored to their former Victorian glory and include the walled garden and hedge maze.

Audley End is a Jacobean mansion located close by; the impressive mansion is located in scenic landscaped gardens and features fine collections of art and furniture.

Southend-on-Sea is a seaside town located 20 miles from Chelmsford. Southend became a popular seaside resort during the early 19th century providing a place to relax by the sea close to London. The town includes seven miles of coastline for visitors to explore with plenty to see and do for the whole family.

The town is famous for Southend Pier, one of the longest pleasure piers in the world. The pier is a major local attraction visitors will find a visitor information centre, a cultural centre that hosts a number of exhibitions, events and performances and Southend Pier Museum looking back at the fascinating history of the pier.

Local attractions include the Adventure Island Amusement Park, with over 30 rides including rollercoaster’s, rides for children and adventures golf and dodgems. The Beecroft Art Gallery includes over 2,000 works in its collection ranging from the 17th century to contemporary art.

The Southend Central Museum showcases local and natural history and archaeology, housed inside a Grade II listed building.

Southchurch Hall is a Grade I listed historic house built in the 14th century featuring the historic house and gardens there are number of rooms with period features dating back to Tudor times. At Southend Planetarium visitors can see live presentations and learn more about astronomy and the sky at night.

Essex is a county that may surprise you, the lack of world renowned sites and attractions should not take away from the fact that the county of Essex has plenty of places to see and enjoy for visitors.

From historic houses and castles to charming towns and villages, visitors can enjoy a nice break here. The location right next to Greater London means is easily assessable by road, rail and air with Stansted Airport for visitors from abroad and other areas in the UK.

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