The Chequers, Goldhanger

TOWNS AND VILLAGES

Maldon District's picture postcard villages.

Map of the Maldon District

Villages north of the River Blackwater

The villages on the northern side of the Blackwater Estuary retain strong links with their maritime past. In Tollesbury, the sail lofts were built to store the sails of racing yachts. Head west through the Tolleshunts, and the Tothams to reach Wickham Bishops, one of the highest points in Maldon District. All Saints' Church in Little Totham is believed to have the oldest door in England.

Villages of the River Chelmer

In Heybridge, canal-side buildings, locks and bridges remind us of the area's industrial heritage. In Langford the theme continues. Visit the Museum of Power, housed in a disused water pumping station. Further along, Ulting's small Norman church is in a picturesque setting with its grounds leading down to the River Chelmer. Also worth a visit is the Church of St Michael the Archangel in Woodham Walter the only Elizabethan church in Essex.

Villages of the Dengie Peninsula

The Dengie Peninsula is the local name for the land between the Blackwater and Crouch estuaries. The low-lying marshland, dotted with villages and hamlets has always been sparsely populated. Some waterfront villages of this area have marinas. Inland, Tillingham is a typical marshland village with its church green, pump and weatherboard cottages. The small town of Southminster was home to Dr Alexander Scott, Chaplain to Nelson on board HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Bradwell on sea

Bradwell-on-Sea

Bradwell-on-Sea is a village and civil parish in Essex, England. The village is on the Dengie peninsula. It is located about 9 km north-northeast of Southminster and is 30 km east from the county town of Chelmsford.

Heybridge

Heybridge

Heybridge is adjacent to Maldon, near the River Blackwater. It is often overshadowed by its historic neighbour, and one could mistakenly think it to be the same town, as the two have merged with one another over the years.

Tollesbury

Tollesbury

Situated in the heart of the Essex countryside at the mouth of the river Blackwater, Tollesbury is a great place for walkers and nature lovers.

Purleigh

Purleigh

Purleigh is first mentioned in a Saxon will of AD 998 but, like most parishes, no detailed information is available about it until 1086 when it appears in Domesday Book.

Burnham-on-Crouch

Burnham-on-Crouch

Quiet, unspoilt riverside town - one of England's leading yachting centres.

Southminster

Southminster

Southminster is a small town with a population of just under 4,000 people situated in the centre of a peninsula in eastern Essex.

Tillingham

Tillingham

Tillingham is a small village and civil parish with 1,015 inhabitants in 2001, increasing to 1,058 at the 2011 Census, located 8 miles from Burnham-on-Crouch and 3 miles from Bradwell-on-Sea

Goldhanger

Goldhanger

There are some beautiful walks around Goldhanger and we are fortunate to have miles of sea wall stretching along the Blackwater Estuary as far as Maldon on one side and Tollesbury and beyond on the other.

BRADWELL-ON-SEA

View of St Peter's on the Wall Church

The village of Bradwell-on-Sea is on the Dengie peninsula. It is located about 9 km north-northeast of Southminster and is 30 km east from the county town of Chelmsford.

Bradwell makes a great day out and visitors come from far and wide to visit the Bradwell Cockle Spit (SSSI). This nature reserve consists of 30 acres of shell beach - a beach of shells, rather than sand - and extensive mud flats known as saltings. Established to help shore nesting birds, especially the rare British bird Little Tern, this area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Specially Protected Area and Special Area of Conservation. Managed jointly by Essex Wildlife Trust and The Essex Birdwatching Society.

Resident birds to spot are the Oystercatcher, Redshank, Yellow Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting and Linnet. Brent Geese over winter here, arriving October/ November time from the Russian Arctic where they have spent the summer. Roughly half the world's population over winter in Britain, and of these birds about half are found in Essex. The bird observatory is an ideal place to spot these often recluse species.

The salt marshes or saltings provide habitat for a number of salt tolerant plants, such as Sea Holly. Sea Lavender infuses large areas with a mass of purple when it flowers in July and August and Rock Samphire described as having a "pleasant, hot and spicy taste" is often spotted in amongst the dense salt marsh.

Adjacent to the reserve is the ancient chapel of St Peter's on the Wall, the finish point of the 45 mile St Peter's Way long distance footpath. The simplistic lines and rustic charm of this early chapel adds to the atmospheric feel of this remote area.

A six mile circular walk takes in the cockle shell bank, St Peter's-on-the-Wall, and the Second World War Airfield memorial and is available to download or as a guide via the Maldon District Tourist Information Centre.

GOLDHANGER

Walking on the seawall in Goldhanger

Located to the north side of the River Blackwater, at the head of a small creek is Goldhanger. The place-name Goldhanger is first attested in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as Goldhangra. The name means slope where marigold grew, from the Old English golde meaning marigold.

This traditional village is steeped in history, with many privately owned period buildings in a charming Conservation Area. It is not hard to imagine how this tranquil village had a thriving and often shady past. With many small Ale houses previously in the village, smuggling is well documented with tales of floating rafts down the Blackwater, and brandy being carried from the Estuary up Fish Street, on horses whose hooves had been muffled with cloth.

The church of St Peter - a fine example of a Norman church is the focal point of the village and boasts a stunning stained glass window creating a majestic view when lit at night. Near the Chequers public house is the old village pump recently restored and winner of a Maldon District Conservation award.

Goldhanger has oyster lays, where young oysters are bred in beds to be sold commercially. This part of the District features some of the most remote places where fishermen, birdwatchers, ramblers and painters can be alone with nature.

A circular walk is available from the Maldon District Tourist Information Centre that guides you both on the coastal path and through stunning farm land. If you time it right as the light is fading, you will often see a pair of Barn Owls flying low across the flat reeds looking for food.

NORTH FAMBRIDGE

Coastal footpath, River Crouch
Tucked away on the northern coast of the river Crouch is North Fambridge known in the Domesday Book, as 'Fanbruge' meaning 'Bridge by a fen or marsh', or perhaps rather 'causeway across a fen or marsh'
Like many British villages, the focal point is the pub. The half century old Ferry Boat Inn is timber framed with weather boards and handmade clay tiles, located by the riverside.

Blue House Farm, a 600 hundred acre haven for plant and wildlife deemed to be worthy of 'Special Scientific Interest', is perhaps North Fambridge's proudest boast. This nature reserve is an example of untouched and ancient Essex marshland and is teeming with diverse and rare wildlife. Managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust, migrants such as Green Sandpiper, Ruff and Spotted Redshank can be admired.

Served by North Fambridge railway station on the Crouch Valley Line means for those of you using public transport it is ideally located within walking distance of total contrasting landscapes allowing you to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. However, visit North Fambridge at the right time of year and you'll find, just a short way from the solitude of Blue House Farm, a village bustling in the excitement of the annual 'Yacht Haven Middle Distance Triathlon' a half ironman distance.