Located just 9 miles north west of Braintree and 12 miles south east of Saffron Walden, Great Bardfield is a large Essex village with a strong sense of history.
Said to have been given to Anne of Cleves by Henry VIII as a part of his divorce settlement, the Grade II listed Great Lodge, and Grade I tithe barn (now a vineyard) are associated with this once royal resident.
Walking around the village you’ll also find the Bardfield Cage, a 19th Century village lock-up, a small museum and converted windmill.
If you’re lucky you may also spot the Bardfield Oxslip, a rare plant only found where Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire meet. The authenticity and rare status of this plant was granted by none other than Charles Darwin, who alongside Henry Doubleday tested plants collected from Great Bardfield.
With a soil and climate close to that found in the Alsace region, Great Bardfield has become a wine producer in its own right. Planted on land behind the tithe barn built by Anne of Cleves in 1541, grape varieties similar to those used in Alsace produce a high quality soft fruity, aromatic wine. Visit and tour the vineyard and walled gardens. Taste and buy wines. Or enjoy a ploughman’s lunch in the beautiful tithe barn.
Location: Bardfield Vineyard, The Great Lodge, Great Bardfield, Braintree, Essex CM7 4QD
Enquiries: 01371 810776
Open: Sat and Sun by arrangement.
From it’s humble origins in 1960, the Beth Chatto Gardens have emerged from a wasteland of brambles, parched gravel and boggy ditches. Today this exciting garden is a showcase for unusual plants and how to get the best out of tricky planting conditions.
The hand of Beth Chatto is very much still present in the informal planting style and enthusiasm for choosing plants to suit different environments. Talks, events and workshops are held at the gardens throughout the year. An on-site nursery allows visitors to take home favourites they spot throughout the garden.
Location: Elmstead Market, Colchester, Essex CO7 7DB
Enquiries: 01206 822007 or email@example.com
For opening times and more information: http://www.bethchatto.co.uk
Set in 160 acres of landscaped gardens and rambling woodland, Hedingham Castle dates back to 1140 and the time of the Norman invasion. Vistas are dominated by the magnificent Castle keep towering 110 feet above you. Inside are some of the best preserved Norman interiors in Northern Europe with a banqueting hall, where Henry VIII and Elizabeth I once dined, and minstrel’s gallery. Exploring this beautiful, romantic and ancient setting is a place to set your imagination free.
Location: Bayley Street, Castle Hedingham, Essex CO9 3DJ
Enquiries: 01787 460261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For opening times and more information: http://www.hedinghamcastle.co.uk/