Coval Hall, Rainsford Road
Coval Hall, Rainsford Road
This coastline provides a fantastic choice of yacht clubs and fish restaurants, enjoyed by Essex residents and tourists alike. As with much of the East of England, Essex benefits from a particularly dry and warm climate; no wonder, then, that’s it’s a very popular place to live.
Strutt & Parker’s Chelmsford office covers the whole county and our Cambridge office also services the North West corner. Essex has a wealth of fantastic property; country cottages and farms as well as huge country houses, equestrian properties and beautiful Georgian homes.
There is a large array of outdoor activities in Essex. With 350 miles of coastline and beautifully rural countryside, wildlife thrives; rare birds, voles and seals are regular sights in some areas. Along the coast, there are extensive opportunities for sailing; with a huge number of yacht clubs dotted along the estuary.
Inland, the picturesque and rural countryside is the ideal spot for walking, cycling and riding. This lowland landscape has, for generations, been an inspiration to writers and artists; a cycling painter’s trail highlights the many scenes that have been immortalised in art. The buzzing towns and traditional villages, blessed with great traditional pubs and independent boutiques, are a great way to spend a relaxed weekend.
The county has a rich history, evident in its lavish architecture and numerous stately homes, including Audley End House, a former palace, and Ingatestone Hall. The county’s temperate climate is perfect for getting out and about and exploring all that Essex has to offer.
Within Essex itself, there are plenty of buzzing towns and cities but you can be enjoying a vast range of wildlife, beautiful scenery and coastlines, within minutes. It is also blessed with a rich history and many interesting historical and cultural landmarks.
Our Chelmsford office team recommends the following:
Jalsa Ghar in Great Dunmow serves traditional Bangladeshi and Indian cuisine as well as some unique dishes, all made from delicious fresh ingredients.
If local cuisine is more up your street, look no further than the Blue Strawberry Bistro in Hatfield Peverel, which serves up gourmet dishes made from locally sourced ingredients where possible, with exceptional service, at prices that won’t break the bank.
Pubs and bars
Barista on Duke Street, Chelmsford, has a wide range of drinks and a great atmosphere. Ideal for a quiet drink in the week, this bar livens up at the weekend, becoming a great venue for a party.
The Chelmsford Summer Beer & Cider festival is held in Admiral’s Park, in the centre of Chelmsford, each July. The event is organised by CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) and, with 360 real ales, 150 real ciders and perries and over 120 international beers, has become a firm favourite with locals, as well as attracting visitors from much further afield.
V Festival, a huge pop and rock festival which takes place every August, is held in Hylands Park in Chelmsford, attracting approximately 150,000 music fans to the area.
Secret spot/country walk
Essex is full of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, but our team in Chelmsford particularly like Danbury Park, Brightlingsea, Thaxted and Epping Forest.
The former county town, recently granted city status, is Chelmsford, which has been voted one of the most desirable places to live in the country. The River Chelmer and The River Can meet just to the east of the town and flow through the busy city centre. It has a market, a useful high street and a couple of shopping centres, providing good amenities for the local residents. Chelmsford is well connected with direct access to the A12 and regular railway services into London. The city is kept congestion free, thanks to a ‘park & ride’ service into the centre.
Formerly an industrial town and known as the birthplace of radio, Chelmsford has lots of cultural attractions to explore, including the Chelmsford museum, the cathedral – one of the smallest in the country – and Hylands House and Park, which is now open to the public and used as a venue for a variety of events.
Brentwood is very conveniently located for commuting into London, with easy access to the M25. It has a huge residential quarter, which is surrounded by open countryside, and a recently redeveloped high street whose amenities and shopping opportunities are constantly growing and improving.
The newly opened Gastro Burger Company, which pops up in the evenings from Wednesday to Saturday in the Crown Street Café, is run by a Masterchef finalist and gets incredible reviews for its delicious food, locally sourced ingredients and relaxed setting.
Saffron Walden is a charming small market town near the Cambridgeshire border, famous for its tea rooms and cake shops. It is an interesting town, with medieval architecture hinting at its long history; it has existed since before the Roman occupation. It has excellent schools, a community cinema and two fantastic real local pubs: the Eight Bells and the Cricketers Arms.
Just down the road, Audley End House is one of the country’s most impressive stately homes; a great day out and a venue for concerts in the summer.
The historic and fast growing town of Colchester claims to be the oldest town in Britain. It has a number of museums, arts organisations and live music venues, as well as good sports facilities. The new and very modern architect designed art gallery sits side by side with the attractive and traditional architecture of the town. The independent department store Williams & Griffin thrives alongside the typical high street stores.
The Crown pub, in nearby Wormingford, is a very popular gastro-pub, with interesting guest ales and a great beer garden.
Dunmow is an historic and attractive small market town on the River Chelmer. It has a sixteenth century town hall and a high street with useful shops and a selection of pubs and eateries. Dunmow is known for still practising the ancient custom of ‘Flitch Trials’ where couples must convince a jury of maidens and bachelors that they have ‘not wisht themselves unmarried again’ in the last year, as referenced in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.
Located on the Blackwater estuary is Maldon, an ancient and charming town now famed for its salt. Despite being close to London and other large towns, Maldon has thrived in its own right, with a bustling and attractive town centre and a number of sailing clubs. It has globally important nature reserves and footpaths; a haven for wildlife and wildlife lovers alike.
In the summer months, Promenade Park, on the bank of the river Blackwater, is frequented by a huge number of locals and tourists enjoying the fountains, playground, model boating and crabbing lake, and its many other attractions.
Braintree offers its residents both idyllic countryside and farmland surroundings and a thriving and active centre that is only 10 miles from Chelmsford. The town has excellent amenities including many pubs and bars, an arts centre, a cinema and a bowling alley. Complementing the good retail opportunities in the town centre, Freeport Braintree is an outlet shopping centre that welcomes hoards of shoppers from London and the nearby towns.
The small Georgian town of Witham, sitting on the River Brain, has a selection of high street shops, supermarkets and other amenities. A walking route guides visitors for three and a half miles through the town, highlighting points of interest, including rare wildlife. In the area, there are limitless opportunities for walking, cycling and golf.
There is also a main line railway station with regular services into London Liverpool Street.
Essex is known for its good schools, in all corners of the county.
In Brentwood, among a number of good schools is the Brentwood School; well renowned, with good results and famous alumni. InChelmsford, there are many good state primaries, including The Tyrells, Newlands Spring and Barnes Farm. Chelmsford County High for Girls and King Edward VI Grammar are both outstanding.
Colchester is especially blessed; Prettygate is an outstanding state junior school, Colchester County High School for Girls and Colchester Royal Grammar are both excellent state secondaries. Colchester High and St Mary’s School are both renowned independent secondary schools.
Felsted School, near Dunmow, is an excellent secondary school which offers the IB and good extracurricular activities and the Plume Community Academy inMaldon, for years 7 to 13, is very good. Saffron Walden is renowned for having excellent schools, particularly primaries; St Thomas More Catholic primary is outstanding, as is RA Butler Junior.
For a more comprehensive list of schools in the area we recommend the Good Schools Guide.
With trains going direct to London’s Liverpool Street station from a number of stations in Essex, it is a commuter’s dream; from Chelmsford or Brentwood, services take just 35 minutes – less than from many parts of London. From Audley End (serving Saffron Walden) and Braintree it takes about an hour, and from Witham and Colchester there are numerous trains every hour which take just over 45 minutes. Trains connect Colchester and Braintree to Chelmsford in about 20 minutes, while Witham to Chelmsford is just 10.
The M25 crosses the county’s south-western corner and from there the wider motorway network is easily accessible. The M11 runs up the Western edge of the county, to Cambridge. A web of decent A-roads runs through the county, with the A12 in particular keeping everyone moving.
One of the biggest selling points of Essex is the fantastic combination of unspoilt countryside and farmland, yet with exceptionally good connections and access into London – it really is the best of both worlds.