Beth Chatto Gardens
Your experience begins at the wonderful Beth Chatto Gardens in Elmstead Market just east of Colchester. A real treat for the senses, you can’t help but wonder about the hard work and passion that went into transforming this once barren and forgotten land into an oasis by Beth Chatto OBE herself. You can spend as long as four hours in the gardens so feel free to take your time to explore, with a stop off at the café for refreshments and homemade cakes.
Beth Chatto Gardens
Lunch at Winenhoe House
For lunch head over to The Brasserie at Wivenhoe House, just 10 minutes from the garden. It is surrounded by beautiful woodland and actually sits in the grounds of Essex University, but you wouldn’t know it!
Wivenhoe House Hotel
Again, just a 10 minute drive from Wivenhoe House and you will be in the vibrant town of Colchester. Once the Roman capital of England, it is also the oldest recorded town in the UK. Your first stop will be the wonderful Norman Colchester Castle built on the foundations of the Temple of Claudius, and the largest Norman keep in Europe. The beautiful Victorian Castle Park which surrounds it is home to many events throughout the year, plus beautiful flower beds including a yearly planted war memorial.
Enjoy afternoon tea or refreshments in the Tiptree tearoom, inside The Minories Art Gallery just opposite the Castle Park main entrance.
Tiptree Tea Rooms
Mersea Island Brewery
Your next stop will be Mersea Island Brewery just seven miles from Colchester. Here you can buy traditional and award-winning homemade ales, as well as wine - they have vineyards too!
Greyfriars Boutique Hotel
Travel back to Colchester for your overnight stay and dinner in the exclusive Greyfriars Boutique Hotel in the heart of the town. Providing 26 luxuriously appointed bedrooms, as well as Grand suites, each room is unique and reflects the centuries of the three buildings that form Greyfriars. With lavish furnishings and comfy beds, you’ll enjoy the perfect night’s sleep. Dinner will be served in the Cloisters restaurant, where the table d’hote and Á La Carte menus are served seven days a week using locally sourced produce.
After a hearty ‘full English’ breakfast, set off for your first stop of the day – Bardfield Vineyard in Great Bardfield, a wonderfully tranquil area of Essex. As well as visiting the vineyards and winetasting if desired, you can take a self-guided tour of the wonderful brick and tile Grade I listed barn, which was gifted to Anne of Cleves by Henry VIII. The walled gardens are also a joy, together with the herd of alpaca! Don’t forget to purchase your favourite wine from the shop too.
Stop off for lunch at The Windmill Chatham Green where’ll you find an exquisite selection of British classics with a twist, and a ‘refined dining’ experience. Everything on the menu is made to order, using a selection of the finest fresh, local ingredients.
Cressing Temple Barns and Gardens
After lunch, your next stop will be the interesting site of Cressing Temple Barns and Gardens, in the village of Cressing just south-east of Braintree. The Grade I Barns are of particular historical interest to visitors, as they were given to the Knights Templar in 1137 and are among some of the oldest timber-framed buildings, and few surviving Templar buildings in England. Among the Gardens, the Walled Garden is faithfully reconstructed as a Tudor pleasure garden – one of the few in the country, and a delight to behold.
Paycocke's House and Garden
Your last stop of this two-day adventure will be the National Trust property Paycocke’s House and Garden in the pretty village of Coggeshall. This stunning Tudor Merchant’s House has many stories to tell behind its walls! Find out about the ancestry of the house, how it was constructed, plus take a look at the changes it has undergone during its long life, spanning over 500 years. The house – not to mention the garden – has had a long and confusing history due to its many different owners, but it is a fascinating and wonderful ‘hidden treasure’ in Essex.