Essex is truly a county of contrasts. Steeped in history and infused with unique architectural, historic and natural treasures, encapsulating everything that is great about the coast and the countryside. Also, with Hunts Hall so close to the Suffolk border, a county filled with natural beauty, charming villages and medieval towns you can have the perfect break. So you can stay and appreciate the rural silence or take some short trips to find the wealth of hidden gems waiting to be discovered and explored.
Welcome to Colchester Zoo! Home to 240 species set in 60 acres of parkland and lakes!
We are proudly listed as the 11th best zoo around the world and in the top 2 zoos in the UK as part of the TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Attractions.
During your visit to Colchester Zoo, you will see many species from around the world and can learn more about them at our fantastic daily encounters, giving you the chance to see our animals being fed, watch a training session or perhaps just quiz their keepers!
As you navigate your way around Colchester Zoo you’ll visit many different habitats, from the humid home of our Komodo Dragons to our very own Africa plain, Kingdom of the Wild, home to white rhino, giraffes, ostrich, zebra and kudu.
You can also take part in some fantastic activities with the opportunity to hand feed our elephants and giraffes at daily public feeding sessions, and walk through our 24m tunnel as sealions swim overhead.
We also have many fantastic undercover areas, so you can stay warm and dry on even the wettest of days with our ‘Bad Weather’ map. Stop by the Orangutan Forest and see if you can hang for as long as an orangutan, feed our rainbow lorikeets in their tropical walkthrough aviary, Australian Rainbows. PLUS you can also walkthrough Butterfly Glade, home to a number of tropical plants and butterflies, or Worlds Apart, the perfect place to warm up on a chilly day!Chimps edits
Chimpanzee Lookout has seen our tallest enclosure yet open in 2017 as the outdoor area is completed and our chimps are able to explore new heights!
Earls Colne is a beautiful village nestling in the Colne Valley and named after the Earls of Oxford and the River Colne, which flows through the valley below. St. Andrew's Church dates from the 14th century and there are many houses built in the 17th and 18th centuries (see the House Detectives Trail available in the Library or Parish Council office). Visitors to Earls Colne can visit the Heritage Museum, use the many footpaths to enjoy the surrounding countryside and nearby Chalkney Wood. There are also two golf courses, several pubs and restaurants, and a selection of shops. The area has remained inhabited continually and has grown into the largest of the four 'Colne' villages.
Castle Hedingham is a village in northeast Essex, England, located four miles west of Halstead and 3 miles south-east of Great Yeldham in the Colne Valley on the ancient road from Colchester, Essex, to Cambridge.
It developed around Hedingham Castle, the ancestral seat of the de Veres, Earls of Oxford. The first earl, Aubrey de Vere III, finished the initial building of the keep and established a Benedictine nunnery, Castle Hedingham Priory, near the castle gates. Hugh de Vere, fourth earl of Oxford, purchased the right to hold a market in the town of the crown in the mid-13th century. He also founded a hospital just outside the gates of the castle around 1250.
The village's main attractions are the well preserved Norman Hedingham Castle, the Colne Valley Railway, Kirby Hall and its many timber-framed medieval buildings.
The church of St. Nicholas is late Norman and Gothic, building having commenced around 1180. The fine double hammerbeam roof is attributed to Thomas Loveday, who was responsible for work on St John's College, Cambridge. Its Romanesque wheel window and cemetery cross are remnants of the Norman church.
At one and a half times the size of the Tower of London's White Tower, Colchester's keep (152 by 112 feet (46 m × 34 m)) is the largest ever built in Britain and the largest surviving example in Europe. There has always been debate as to the original height of the castle. It has been suggested that the keep was at one time four storeys high, though for a number of reasons, including the peaceful region of the castle and the lack of local stone, it is now thought that it had only two or three. The castle is built on the foundations (or the podium) of the earlier Roman temple of Claudius (built between AD 54–60). These foundations, with their massive vaults, have since been uncovered and can be viewed today on a castle tour.
The East Anglian Railway Museum is located at Chappel and Wakes Colne railway station in Essex, England, which is situated on the former Great Eastern Railway branch line from Marks Tey to Sudbury. Services on the Sudbury Branch Line are operated by Abellio Greater Anglia.
The museum has a wide collection of locomotives and rolling stock, some of which are fully restored, two are converted into Thomas and Toby replicas while others are undergoing repair and restoration. The Restoration Shed was built in 1983–4, before which most work had to take place in the Goods Shed or in the open. On event days, steam or diesel train rides are operated over a short demonstration track.
The museum also plays host to three popular annual events: the Winter Beer Festival held each February, the Cider Festival held each June, and the Summer Beer Festival held each September. During the festivals, additional late-evening trains on the Sudbury Branch Line allow festival-goers to return home by train subject to provision by the train operation companies. There are no moving exhibits during the festivals, although train carriages are usually open to sit in and drink, with one wagon doubling up as The Shunters Arms at the summer festival.
Kentwell Hall is a stately home in Long Melford, Suffolk, England. It includes the hall, outbuildings, a rare-breeds farm and gardens. Most of the current building facade dates from the mid-16th century, but the origins of Kentwell are much earlier, with references in the Domesday Book of 1086.
Kentwell has been the background location for numerous film and television productions, and, since 1979, has annually been the scene of Tudor period historical re-enactments. It also hosts Scaresville, an annual Hallowe'en event which won the Best Seasonal or Hallowe'en Event in 2009 at the UK's annual Screamie Awards.