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An ancient maritime town, Brightlingsea is located at the mouth of the River Colne, it is a major yachting centre with the harbour and promenade bustling with activity. The town has a history of shipbuilding and seafaring. There are disused oyster pits near the Town Hard, where the Colne Smack Preservation Society can also be found. In 1347 five ships and 51 men were sent to the siege of Calais. ‘William of Brightlingsea’ was in Sir Francis Drake’s fleet which vanquished the Spanish Armada.
Brightlingsea has the distinction of being the only Cinque Port outside Kent and Sussex having been a limb of Sandwich since 1360. The 13th Century Jacobes Hall, in the town centre is timber-framed with an undulating tile roof and external staircase. All Saints Church, which is sited on a hill about a mile inland from the town, was mainly built circa 1250. Its impressive tower 97ft high is visible from 17 miles out to sea. A light was placed in the tower to guide fishing vessels home. The Church contains some Roman brickwork and a frieze of memorial ceramic wall tiles commemorating local residents whose lives were lost at sea.
The waters around Brightlingsea together with sandy beaches and colourful beach huts provide plenty of opportunities for a family day out. A number of lovely walks along the seawalls offer ramblers and birdwatchers the opportunity to enjoy the diverse flora and fauna that abound around this beautiful corner of the Essex Sunshine Coast.