The hidden secrets of England's most underrated county

Asia's Tech News Daily

audley end house – iStock

The Queen has agreed Southend in Essex will be granted city status, in honour of Sir David Amess, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced. The resort town on the Thames Estuary, with the longest pleasure pier in the world, is just one of many gems of my home county, which is so often (wrongly) overlooked by visitors, both domestic and international.

The recent reputation of Essex seems to be a construct of the media, most recently reality television, based on a parody of a small southern strip of the county. That strip, from Dagenham through Basildon to Southend, was formed far more by its proximity to London, especially the East End, than with rural East Anglia. This was especially true after whole new towns were built to house those Londoners rendered homeless by the Blitz.

However, before London even existed, Essex was the centre of Britain. Before Christ was born, the dominant Celtic tribe, the Trinovantes, had built their capital Camulodonum there, and after the Roman conquest there it remained.

It was razed to the ground in 60 AD by the neighbouring Queen of the Iceni, Boudicca, “avenging” – in her own words, according to the Roman historian Tacitus – “my lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged chastity of my daughters.” However, it was soon rebuilt and the impressive selection of ruins are spread throughout Britain’s oldest city, now named Colchester.

It wasn’t until over a century after the Romans had left, and 50 years after the last Roman Emperor had been deposed in 476 AD, that the area gained its name from its north German conquerors: the Kingdom of the East Saxons, or Ēastseaxe.

Saxon rule was famously ousted at Hastings in 1066. However, in Essex, the Danes took over 75 years before the Normans at Maldon. Which, being where, and when, my own Fiske ancestors arrived from Denmark, is where my tour of the county began.

Maldon is an interesting place to visit, but in terms of hospitality, I would recommend retracing the Viking longships’ journey 10 miles back up the Blackwater River, to where it meets the North Sea, where you will find Mersea Island. The ubiquitous Maldon Sea Salt aside, this part of the world has been famous for one thing since Roman times: oysters. For the best of these, and other excellent seafood besides, I recommend foodie favourite: The Company Shed. The spartan furnishing and décor is perfectly summed up in the name, but on the upside it has the rare advantage of having a Bring Your Own Bottle license without charging corkage.

Mersea Island – John Lamb/Getty

For something more refined, I would suggest heading inland to Dedham Vale, known as Constable Country for its association with the great rural landscape artist, on the Suffolk border. There you can enjoy the restaurant of the boutique hotel, Maison Talbooth, which has served the best fine dining in the county since my grandparents, who used to take me there, were alive. (I would note that the chef has changed.)

Of course, the real beauty of this temperate island lies in its rural villages, where you can find little gems that make this such a rewarding county to explore.

For example, the village of Copford, next to Marks Tey train station, is where you will find what the art historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, in his magisterial, The Buildings Of England, called “the most remarkable Norman parish church in the country”, covered from flagstone to roofbeam in stunning Byzantine wall paintings by Master Hugo of Bury St Edmonds in the early 12th century.

In rather gruesome contrast to these delicate beauties within, the door was once adorned with the flayed hide of a Viking caught pillaging the church. Fragments of the confirmed human skin remain.

Pevsner’s entry on the village continues by describing the neighbouring manorial hall as “the beau idéal of what to the foreigner is an English landscape scene”. Copford Hall was home to a variety of both Fiskes and Harrisons and the village cricket club still plays its matches on the front lawn. The Alma pub next door is well worth a visit too.

Another notable village, or rather grouping of villages, are the Layers, which get their fair mention in the Domesday Book.

Colchester Castle – Getty

The largest, Layer de la Haye, also has its ancient church and country pub, The Layer Fox, above the fireplace of which they exhibit a photo of the only test run for the famous RAF ‘Dam Busters’ raid that flooded the Ruhr Valley in Western Germany during the Second World War. It was performed on Abberton Reservoir just down the road, which is now 1,200 acres of the most important wildlife sanctuaries in Britain. Oddly, in the evenings you can also hear lions roaring, as Britain’s second zoo after London, Colchester, is barely three miles away.

From Layer de la Haye you can easily reach Layer Breton, with the excellent Hare & Hounds Pub on the large semi-wild village green, or carry on to Layer Marney, whose famous towers contain the grandest Tudor Gatehouse in Britain, which stood in for the haunted house in the recent film version of The Woman In Black.

Essex does grandeur as well as rustic: close by is Braxted Park, a rambling Queen Anne-style house set in 500 acres of sculpted parkland and lakes. Although the residence itself remains private, it opens itself up in various ways as a venue for hire, a shoot, a golf club, a cookery school, and, from the final weekend of this month, an outdoor ‘secret supper club’ with suitably tailored accommodation to match.

The house also has close links to the local polo club, England’s oldest, Silver Leys. Founded in 1894 in Bishop’s Stortford, just on the other bank of the border-river with Hertfordshire, it sits in the middle of 120 acres of the prettiest countryside in the East of England.

The club offers extensive polo facilities excelling at beginner level – for individuals and groups be they private or corporate – on its 200 horses, all under the management of Alec Banner-Eve. However, because of its scale, and the surrounding network of bridle paths through the landscape, it is as popular for country rides as it is the ‘King of Games’.

Finally, the crown of the county must go to one of the grandest and most opulent Jacobean stately homes in Britain. Audley End House is a few miles north of the polo club near Saffron Walden. Once a Benedictine Priory founded by the Earl of Essex, Henry VIII handed it to the Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas Audley, from whom it passed to the Earls of Suffolk. Structurally it was polished in the 18th century by the finest in the trade: Robert Adam and Lancelot Brown.

It is while standing on any of its ornate bridges over the River Granta, and looking back over the Capability Brown-sculpted parkland to what is a palace in all but name, that one sees how undersold by its contemporary reputation Essex really is.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related


Noida: Covid hospital reserves 30 beds for international travellers amid Omicron scare

The district health department on Thursday reserved 30 beds in two wards of Noida Covid hospital located in Sector 39 for all international travellers who test positive for Covid-19. Reportedly, ... Read more »

Gujarat Man Gets Unique Card For Son's Wedding, It Turns Into Bird's Nest

© Provided by News18 Gujarat Man Gets Unique Card For Son’s Wedding, It Turns Into Bird’s Nest The wedding day is special not just for the bride and groom but ... Read more »

Omicron: India's Genome Scientists, Part of Centre's Team, Recommend Booster Shot for Those Above 40

© Provided by News18 Omicron: India’s Genome Scientists, Part of Centre’s Team, Recommend Booster Shot for Those Above 40 Top Indian genome scientists have recommended a booster dose of COVID-19 ... Read more »

WhatsApp Tips: Here's how to hide online status and send a text message

WhatsApp may be your favourite app since it allows you to stay in touch with your friends, family, and coworkers without difficulties. © Provided by Zee News Furthermore, it is ... Read more »

Musk humiliated after choosing Germany over UK as Britain a 'lucrative market after all'

© PA Elon Musk The Tesla CEO continues to face delays in opening a Gigafactory in Berlin over red tape. As well as being held up by challenges from environmental ... Read more »

'Needlessly provocative': Shashi Tharoor on BJP's protest in Parliament

© Provided by Hindustan Times Congress MP Shashi Tharoor speaks in the Lok Sabha during ongoing Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi. (PTI) Members of Parliament from the Bharatiya ... Read more »

‘It was my princess moment': Manushi Chhillar reveals her ‘most favourite thing'

© Provided by The Indian Express From memories to souvenirs, one’s home is a treasure trove of all things personal. As such, taking her fans on a tour of her ... Read more »

Tory chairman says Brits can kiss at parties as long as they wear masks on the bus home

People are free to snog at Christmas parties – as long as they wear masks on the bus home, a top Tory has said. Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden said ... Read more »

Govt may not ban cryptocurrencies, regulation likely: Reports

Cryptocurrencies may not be completely banned in India and the government may create a framework to regulate highly risky virtual assets, as per multiple reports. The development comes at a ... Read more »

Storm Arwen: Military dispatched to North East as desperate residents prepare for second week without power

The military is to dispatch 100 soldiers to the north east to help residents still struggling without power seven days after Storm Arwen knocked out supplies. © Getty Images Marines ... Read more »

Bella Hadid explains why she chose to return to working with Victoria's Secret

© Getty Images GettyImages-1328179947.jpg Bella Hadid has returned to working with Victoria’s Secret. The 25-year-old model, who has walked in three fashion shows for the lingerie brand, stopped working with ... Read more »

Petition begging journalists to stop interviewing Will and Jada Smith now has 15,000 signatures

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s relationship has been making headlines recently – but thousands of people are calling for this to stop. © Getty Images GettyImages-1353322911.jpg Taking matters into their ... Read more »

Canada should focus on vaccine equity — not travel bans — human rights advocate, doctors say

© Michael Probst/Associated Press Canadian experts say the country needs to do better to address vaccine equity by providing more vaccines and supporting vaccine production. Health and infectious disease specialists ... Read more »

Woman With Spina Bifida Wins Case Against Mother's Doctor For Negligent Pregnancy Advice

A young woman with spina bifida has successfully sued the doctor that gave her mother negligent pre-pregnancy advice. © d76 masahiro ikeda – Getty Images A woman with spina bifida ... Read more »

Cyprus police arrest man with knife at entrance to Pope mass venue

© Reuters/GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE Pope Francis visits Cyprus NICOSIA (Reuters) -Police in Cyprus arrested a man carrying a knife who attempted to gain access to an outdoor stadium where Pope Francis ... Read more »

‘It just caused so many problems': How unemployment can drive young couples apart

Jude and James said they argued more as they searched for work (Evening Standard) A married couple who faced unemployment for five months have talked of their frustration at failing ... Read more »

Oliver Dowden: Keep calm and carry on with Christmas plans

Partygoers have been urged to “keep calm and carry on” with their Christmas festivities, despite scientists raising the alarm about the risks associated with gathering for social events. The Conservative ... Read more »

Mercedes F1 deal with Grenfell insulation firm ‘deeply disrespectful' – Nandy

Formula One team Mercedes has been branded “deeply disrespectful” after signing a partnership deal with a firm behind some of the insulation installed in Grenfell Tower. Shadow levelling-up secretary Lisa ... Read more »

Pro Breakdown: The role of coaches in competitive Dota 2

This is Pro Breakdown, a series by Yahoo Esports Southeast Asia where we talk with pro players, coaches, experts, and other personalities about anything and everything in the region’s esports ... Read more »

PKR tanding 27 kerusi di Sarawak

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Keputusan dibuat bagi membolehkan parti memberi tumpuan di kawasan boleh menang, kata Pengarah Pilihan Raya PKR Sarawak Dominique Ng. PETALING JAYA: PKR Sarawak hari ... Read more »

GPS tampil 24 muka baharu, kata Abang Jo

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today GPS mengetengahkan muka baharu berusia antara 30an hingga 40an dengan memperkenalkan tema ‘Sarawak First’. (Gambar Bernama) PETALING JAYA: Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) menyenaraikan 24 ... Read more »

Pengusaha pelancongan sambut baik bantuan tepat masa Bajet 2022

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Bantuan khas Bajet 2022 boleh membantu pengusaha pelancongan bangkit semula selepas tidak beroperasi selama lebih 20 bulan. (Gambar Bernama) PETALING JAYA: Pengusaha pelancongan menanti-nantikan ... Read more »

Hutang RM45 juta, tapi bayar bonus 4 bulan gaji; Hilman tegur anak syarikat kerajaan Selangor

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today ADUN Gombak Setia Hilman Idham, berkata menurut laporan audit, LLSB tidak mampu membayar hutang yang dipinjamnya daripada kerajaan negeri berjumlah RM45 juta. SHAH ALAM: ... Read more »

Taliban veröffentlichen Erlass zu Frauenrechten

© Keystone/WFP/Julian Frank In Afghanistan sind die militant-islamistischen Taliban dreieinhalb Monate nach ihrer Rückkehr an die Macht für die Achtung einiger Frauenrechte eingetreten. In einem am Freitag veröffentlichten Erlass wiesen ... Read more »

Nasa warns ISS over debris ‘headed towards spacecraft' NOW and readies evasive manoeuvre

NASA has warned the ISS over possible debris risk to the space station. Flight controllers say a piece of rocket may pass very close to the ISS today – potentially ... Read more »

Furious I'm A Celebrity fans fume ‘disturbing' trial ‘went too far' after Frankie and Naughty Boy retch and shake

I’M A Celebrity fans were left concerned for Frankie Bridge after she broke down in tears and was seen shaking after taking part in last night's gruelling trial. The singer, ... Read more »

Man jailed for two years after spiking drink in Ealing pub

© Met Police Eamon Kelly has been jailed for two years A man has been jailed after he spiked a pub goer’s drink with the intention of sexually assaulting him. ... Read more »

Saturday Night Takeaway's Little Ant And Dec are unrecognisable 18 years after ITV debut

They found fame as kids playing the mini version of Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly on Saturday Night Takeaway. But 18 years on and Little Ant And Dec – James ... Read more »

C'mon C'mon review: Joaquin Phoenix is gently mesmerising

© Courtesy of Tobin Yelland/A24 Fi cmomcmon In this crepuscular indie drama, Joaquin Phoenix plays Johnny, a radio journalist whose life is changed for the better when he spends quality ... Read more »

London Tube strike: Second round to go ahead after talks break down

© AFP via Getty Images BRITAIN-HEALTH-VIRUS-TRANSPORT Commuters should expect further travel chaos on Friday after the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union confirmed the next round of Tube strikes are ... Read more »

Over 250 travelers arrived in PHL from South Africa from Nov. 15 to 29 — DOH

Thermal scanners at NAIA Terminal 1 amid coronavirus concerns. Photo taken January 22, 2020 by James Agustin A total of 253 travelers arrived in the Philippines from South Africa from ... Read more »

Bruno Fernandes admits second Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rule has been scrapped at Man Utd

Bruno Fernandes admitted a second change has been made at Manchester United since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s exit. Ronaldo and Fernandes were both on target for the Red Devils on Thursday ... Read more »

No evidence yet Omicron could cause more severe COVID-19 illness, death —DOH

© News Live B.1.1.529 variant of concern Omicron. News Live screenshot The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said there is no evidence yet that the Omicron variant, classified by ... Read more »

PH remains free of omicron but tests ongoing for arrivals from South Africa

THE Philippines continues to remain free from the omicron variant of the (Covid-19) but intensive back tracing and re-testing are being done to those who arrived from three African countries, ... Read more »

Silent Night

© Cover Images If you’ve had enough of warm and fuzzy festive films this holiday season, then perhaps you should check out Camille Griffin’s anti-Christmas movie. This black comedy/horror follows ... Read more »

DoH: Hold Christmas parties outdoors, ditch buffets

THE Department of Health (DoH) advised the public to follow minimum health protocols and follow the standards recommended in holding gatherings, especially during the holiday season, such as ditching buffet-style ... Read more »

What if ‘Money Heist' was shot in Manila? See for yourself in these 5 spots

© Photo Release What if ‘Money Heist’ was shot in Manila? See for yourself in these 5 spots MANILA, Philippines — With Spain’s most popular series Money Heist coming to ... Read more »

Britain's Nationwide names TSB's Debbie Crosbie as next chief

© Reuters/Hannah Mckay FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen outside a Nationwide Building Society in London (Reuters) -Nationwide Building Society, Britain’s second-biggest provider of home loans, said on Friday it has ... Read more »

69 must-watch movies to check out on Netflix this week

© Provided by Hello! james-florence It’s Christmas – a time for peace, goodwill and watching great movies! And you’re spoilt for choice on Netflix this holiday season, with a winning ... Read more »

New Covid testing rules for inbound travellers due to come in today is delayed for 48 hours

© Alamy Stock Photo THE IMPLEMENTATION OF new rules requiring all overseas travellers to Ireland to have a negative Covid-19 test has been delayed until Sunday.  The rules were scheduled ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic