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Visit Essex August Newsletter - 'Listening Benches' in Essex? Keep your eyes (and ears) open so you don't miss them!

Cressing temple barns and gardens

So we're half-way through the Summer holidays and the weather has been up and down - but here in Essex the sun always shines - yes it's the driest county in the Country!


September will see Essex Heritage Open Days over the weekend of the 10th and 11th, and the county is already 'gearing up' for the event. Chelmsford highlights this year include access to the grounds of Pleshey Castle, tours of Hylands House and joining in the open days programme for the first time this year, Writtle Agricultural College. The Radical Essex project is aiming to re-examine the history of the county in relation to thought, lifestyle, politics and architecture, and in this respect will be doing guided tours throughout the county over this weekend too.  There will be many fantastic venues open to the public Free of Charge during Heritage Open Days, so see below for further information.


You may also like to take a trip to one of the county's fabulous gardens?  Essex gardens are resplendent with spectacular displays of flowers, trees and shrubs, as well as sculptures! The Gibberd Garden on the outskirts of Harlow (designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd the Town Planner for Harlow New Town, also an artist and sculptor), has one of his designs around every corner. The RHS garden Hyde Hall also displays sculptures by local artists.  The lesser-known 'Forgotten Gardens of Easton Lodge' have been partially restored to their former glory and definitely deserve a visit too.  Spotlight on this garden below.


Enjoy the rest of the Summer, and don't forget you can get "2for1 Twice the Fun" with our 2for1 and other special offers here.


The Visit Essex Team 

gardens of easton lodge



A ‘must’ for romantics and keen gardeners alike, Easton Lodge was originally built by Henry Maynard, former Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I. His mansion was destroyed by fire in 1847 and a gothic pile replaced it, which came to Frances ‘Daisy’ Maynard in 1865. Renowned as a great beauty, Daisy eventually married Lord Brooke, the Earl of Warwick and in 1902 she commissioned Harold Peto to redesign the grounds. He did so by bringing his passion for Italianate and French designs to Easton Lodge, however, WWII saw the estate requisitioned by the War Office and transformed into an airfield. 

After the cessation of hostilities, Greville Maynard demolished the house and bequeathed what remained of the estate to his daughter, Felice Spurrier in 1960. Felice sold the remaining buildings on, but in 1993 a small but enthusiastic group of volunteers undertook to restore the gardens of Easton Lodge. The intervening years have seen painstaking work to restore Peto’s gardens, but the areas recovered from nature’s wilder habits, are magnificent.

Colchester Castle


On the 10th and 11th September, thousands of volunteers invite you to explore and experience local history, culture and architecture.  Many Essex venues are opening their doors free of charge and we've listed a few recommendations below.     

Rayleigh Town Museum, Warner Textile ArchiveEssex Police Museum, Colchester CastleChelmsford Museum, Grange Barn, Mercury Theatre, Essex Record Office, St Andrew’s and St Christopher’s churches and Epping Forest District Museum.


Colchester castle
Down hall country house hotel



Down Hall Country House Hotel is an idyllic country escape located on the Hertfordshire/Essex border and set within 110 acres of gardens and woodland. Following a £6.5million refurbishment, the hotel has recently launched Eden Spa, a luxury haven to unwind and escape the stresses of daily life.


'Listening Benches' a fantastic project co-ordinated by Essex Record Office and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund "You are Hear - Sound and a Sense of Place". Historic recordings relevant to each location have been digitised and then shared with the public at the press of a button on each bench! Currently in Colchester, Great Waltham, Great Dunmow, Kelvedon and Saffron Walden, with two touring benches currently at Stansted Airport and Belhus Woods Country Park. Others will be unveiled throughout the remaining part of 2016 and during 2017.


The Beth Chatto Gardens has launched a new commentary by Beth herself. Listen to Beth's thoughts and achievements as you take a tour of the Gardens, and allow her to reveal the wonders of the Gardens to you.


Epping Forest District Museum has a brand new exhibition opening on 17th September - 21st December - Harold II: The life, legend and legacy of England’s last Anglo Saxon king. Marking the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and commemorating the momentous events of 1066.


Southend Lagoon on the seafront near Adventure Island, opened just in time for the school holidays, and is already attracting lots of visitors.


Lee Valley White Water Centre have brought the beach to the city! The beach, made up of 140 tonnes of light golden sand, will be open all year round for visitors to have free fun.


Maldon Museum received the SHARE Volunteer Award for Museums East (managed by Norfolk Museums Service and funded by Arts Council England). The scheme seeks to recognise the valuable contribution that volunteers make to museums and their communities.

Sky ropes olympic hunt at Gt Notley country park
Thomas days out at East anglian railway museum


August Bank Holiday Weekend

A few to whet your appetite!

World War II Weekend 28th & 29th Audley End House and Gardens

Big Bang Weekend at Royal Gunpowder Mills 27th - 29th

Steam & Diesel Gala Weekend at Mangapps Railway 27th - 29th

Day out With Thomas East Anglian Railway Museum 27th - 29th

Flagship Craft Weekend at Cressing Temple Barns 28th & 29th

Victorian Weekend at Epping Ongar Railway 26th - 28th

WildForestJam at Wild Forest Gym 29th


ALL events in Essex can be viewed here.

First buses

See Essex by Bus! Give the car a rest and enjoy a family/group day out by bus with First Essex’s new Urban ticket from £5.00.  You can now travel as a group or as a family from as little as £5.00 (max 1 Adult & 2 kids) or £7.50 for larger groups (2 Adults & 3 kids) throughout our Urban fare Zones, in Chelmsford, Colchester, Southend, Basildon and Clacton.

For more information on Group/family tickets here. Or contact their Twitter team @firstessex T&Cs apply.

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