Essex Tourist Information
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Since it shares a border with the teeming city of London, you might expect the Home County of Essex to be just an urban sprawl with
little to tempt the curious traveller - how wrong could you be!
For this is a region packed with historical intrigue, rolling countryside, villages
full of thatched cottages and a coastline blessed with both traditional seaside resorts and magnificent scenery.
Colchester, once capital of the Catevellauni tribe under King Cunobelin (better known to Shakespeare lovers as Cymbeline),
and later the Romans, is England's oldest recorded town. Its mostly complete Norman castle - built on the orders of William the Conqueror - is in the same style as the
White Tower of the Tower of London and was constructed atop the foundations of Britain's first Roman temple around AD44.
Architecturally, Essex has more than 14,000 listed buildings and no less than 1,000 of these are designated as 'outstanding'.
They range from the oldest surviving wooden structure in Britain to Fyfield Hall, the oldest continuously inhabited timber-framed house in the country, and
Layer Marney Tower, England's tallest Tudor gatehouse.
The county town of Chelmsford, was also founded by the Romans in the first century AD and boasts a fine cathedral dating to the 15th century.
Essex has many other reminders of olde England. Saffron Walden, for example, owes its names to the growing of saffron. Greensted's small church dates to 1003
and has an original wall built of logs.
Thanks to its jigsaw of a coastline, the county has a long maritime heritage. Museum-filled Harwich is the UK's second busiest passenger ferry port while nearby
Dovercourt boasts a series of iron lighthouses. Tilbury, a historic tidal port on the River Thames estuary, has a remarkable fort with a museum and underground
magazine dating to the mid-16th century; it was here that Queen Elizabeth made her famous speech to the troops prior to the defeat of the Spanish Armada.
Billed as the 'sunshine coast' because of its mild climate, the North Sea coastline contains a host of well-known resorts – from Southend, Clacton,
Frinton, Burnham-on-Crouch and Brightlingsea - which manage to combine a traditional sense of the seaside with the opportunity to explore diverse vistas.
There are mud flats and wild marshes, which contrast sharply with numerous heaths, woodlands and unspoiled meadows whilst inland lie the valleys of the
Stour and the Colne, both paradises for naturalists.
Lying on the edge of London, Epping
Forest spans nearly 6,000 acres and is the remnant
of the great royal hunting grounds used by Saxon,
Norman and Tudor monarchs.
Queen Elizabeth I went a-hunting here and her 16th century hunting lodge
has been transformed into a fascinating museum.
On the edge of the forest lies Waltham Abbey, the last abbey to fall victim to
Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Built by King Harold Godwinson – who is buried here – it was consecrated in 1060.
The beautiful abbey boasts huge Norman piers and has many carvings of human faces etched by the original masons.
The poet Tennyson lived nearby at Beech Hill Park in the mid 19th century.
The Royal Gunpowder Mills can also be found in the town of Waltham Abbey.
Set in 175 acres of parkland, they were first established in the late 18th century and have played a crucial role in British military history.
One of the finest properties in Essex is Audley End House, near Saffron Walden, (National Trust) an
astonishing Jacobean house largely created to entertain James I.
Other significant buildings include Ingatestone Hall and Hedingham Castle.
Elsewhere can be found many fine old churches and a plethora of museums illustrating the social history of Essex.
Tourist Information Centres
Tourist Information Centre, Town Hall, Market Place, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3YG
Tel: 01376 550066 Fax: 01376 344345
Tourist Information Centre, 44 High St, Brentwood, Essex, CM14 4AJ
Tel: 01277 200300 Fax: 01277 202375
Tourist Information Centre, Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, CO15 1SE
Tel: 01255 686633 Fax: 01255 686412
Visitor Information Centre, 1 Queen St, Colchester, Essex, CO1 2PG
Tel: 01206 282920 Fax: 01206 282924
Tourist Information Centre, Coach Lane, Maldon, Essex, CM9 4UH
Tel: 01621 856503 Fax: 01621 875873
Tourist Information Centre, 1 Market Place, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB10 1HR
Tel: 01799 510444
Tourist Information Centre, 19 High Street, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 1JE
Tel: 01702 215120 Fax: 01702 431449