Visit Essos - Game of Thrones kingdom-wide takeover!

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Essex is renamed to celebrate the legacy of Game of Thrones!

Following the most anticipated finale in television history, four regions across the nation have been transformed into the World of Westeros to mark the Digital Download release of Game of Thrones: The Final Season - Essex, Doune Castle in Stirlingshire, Blackpool and London’s Covent Garden.

Essex has pledged its allegiance to the legacy of the show by unveiling a sign with our new name, 'Essos'. Take a selfie next to the sign in front of Colchester Castle (which will stand throughout the summer) and share it with us to be in with chance of winning castle tickets! #GoTTakeover

Like Essex, fictional Essos is located in the east and has a dry climate. Our county of contrasts has many parallels with the Game of Thrones world and we have highlighted a few here. 

Discover Essos.

HBO

Do you recognise these Essex stars?

Nathalie Emmanuel

Nathalie Emmanuel is her role as Missandei
Nathalie Emmanuel entered the show in season 3 as Missandei, Daenerys Targaryen’s interpretor but soon became her friend until she met her death at the hands of Cersei in the final season. Listen to her BBC radio interview on growing up in Southend here.

Dean-Charles Chapman

Dean-Charles Chapman in his role Tommen Baratheon

Dean-Charles Chapman was cast for the third season in the role of Martyn Lannister. However, he is better know for his return to season 4 as ill-fated King Tommen Baratheon. From Essex to the Iron Throne... 

Wilko Johnson

Wilko Johnson in character as Ser Ilyn Payne
Wilko Johnson, member of 70s band Dr Feelgood, played mute executioner Ser Ilyn Payne who executed Ned Stark in the first series. Born in Canvey Island, he still lives on the Essex coast.

Darren Kent

Darren Kent in his role as a goatherd
Darren Kent landed a cameo role as a goatherd farmer, native to Slaver's Bay in Series 4. From Westcliff to a land of dragons and warriors...

Chivalrous knights, hunting grounds and fire-ravaging rebellions...

Ruins of Hadleigh Castle at sunset
Hadleigh Castle was of strategic importance, ideally situated as a base for defending the Thames estuary against French raids during the Hundred Years War. It was later used as a country residence and hunting lodge by Edward III. Visit the rugged ruins and towers for fantastic hilltop views of the Thames Estuary and Canvey Island. Our very own Casterly Rock, you might say.
The entrance to Colchester Castle

Colchester, Britain’s First City and the first Roman Capital, has a rich and bloody history of invasion, revolt and siege - Queen Boudica, our very own Daenerys Targaryen, set the Roman capital on fire. The foundations of the Roman temple can still be seen under Colchester Castle, the largest Norman Keep in Europe. Discover 10 not-at-all-tenuous links to the series. Take a selfie next to the Essos sign in Colchester’s Castle Park and share with us on social media!

Hedingham Castle
The Keep at Hedingham Castle was completed in 1140 and provided a perfect lookout to keep an eye on the locals and those afar! Its walls have seen horrible histories from civil war and besiegement to eventual surrender. Follow in the footsteps of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, when you visit!
Layer Marney Tower aerial view
Visit the UKs tallest Tudor Gatehouse, Layer Marney Tower. Its commissioner, Lord Marney, fought at the final Battle of Boworth in the War of the Roses – this deciding battle gave birth to the Tudor dynasty.
One of the barns at Cressing Temple
Cressing Temple Barns and the surrounding lands were once owned by Queens and Knights. In 1137, it was one of the Knights Templars' largest landholdings in England. The 13th century barns are among the largest and oldest surviving timber framed buildings in Europe. Entry is free.

From dragons and wolves to mystical trees - Wild Essos

Colchester Zoo

Wolf at Colchester Zoo
They may not be direwolves but Colchester Zoo is home to 3 female Eurasian wolves. Torvi, Asta and Tala have shorter, denser fur than their North American relative. Their species are known for forming smaller packs than those in the North. Drop by and say hi!
Komodo Dragon
We may not have fire-breathing dragons in Essex, but we do have three male Komodo Dragons at Colchester Zoo. Satali, Talibo and Atal were born at the zoo and their species are the heaviest lizards on earth, reaching up to 10ft in length, with a huge muscular tail. Komodo’s are mainly scavengers but will also hunt animals using their serrated teeth to injure their prey. Their mouth is full of deadly bacteria, which can lead to prey dying of blood poisoning!

Essex Wildlife Trust

Three red deer taking shade
Escape from the busy hustle and bustle and visit Essex Wildlife Trust’s Bedfords Park Visitor Centre for breath-taking views of rolling hills, mature woodland, wildflower meadows and a glimpse of the London skyline. There is also a captive herd of Red Deer within the park, the Baratheon sigil.
Carrion Crow
The Essex Wildlife Trust don't have any ravens at their sites but they do have the Carrion Crow. Unlike the Rook, these solitary birds do not nest in colonies. They have a black bill, bare legs and can be spotted throughout the UK. They feed on dead animals (carrion), invertebrates and grain, as well as stealing eggs and chicks from other birds' nests. You can spot these nesting at Abberton Reservoir nature reserve.
Magalodon Tooth
The Kraken, the sigil of house Greyjoy, is a legendary sea monster that lurks beneath the surface. Explore Essex Wildlife Trust’s The Naze Centre and come face to face with another ocean giant; the Megalodon. This 18-metre shark swam off the Essex coast 2.3-20 million years ago. Meet this Megalodon face on as a 4-metre long scale model at the centre. As the cliffs at The Naze erode, ancient fossils including Megalodon teeth have been uncovered on the beach, so if you’re extremely lucky you could possibly find one of these giant teeth!

Nature Reserves

Sunrise at Lion Creek nature reserve
Explore Lion Creek nature reserve (belonging to Essex Wildlife Trust rather than the Lanisters), a remote and wild reserve that comes alive in the summer with attractive salt marsh plants such as Sea Lavender, Golden Samphire and Sea-spurrey. Home to the UK’s rarest bee; the Shrill Carder, keep your eyes on the skies for other winged beauties such as Marsh Harriers and Short-eared Owls.
Tree
Like the Weirwood Heart Tree in Game of Thrones, Essex has a few of its own mystical trees. Essex Wildlife Trust’s Warley Place nature reserve is home to a large Umbellularia tree, also known as a ‘headache tree’ which gives those who stand under it for too long, a bit of a sore head! At Essex Wildlife Trust’s Thorndon Countryside Centre, you can spot the Crinoline Lady tree. This distinctive 350-450 year-old oak is named after its unusual shape which resembles a crinoline petticoat, a fashion accessory from the 1800s.
Blue House Farm
You wouldn’t dare to go beyond the Wall in Game of Thrones, but with the second longest coastline in England, Essex has plenty of stunning walks along its sea wall. Alive with flora and fauna, Essex Wildlife Trust has an abundance of coastal reserves to explore, for example their Blue House Farm nature reserve, where you can listen out for the ‘plop’ of a Water Vole as they tumble in and out of the ditches, or their Tollesbury Wick nature reserve, a SSSI which offers stunning coastal views.

Action-packed Activities & Magical Events

Two knights joust
Cooking over a fire at Lee Valley Regional Park
Person firelighting
Barge on the water
A bird
Making a wand
Wood carving

From jousting tournaments and falconry at Hedingham Castle to sunset cruises and race days on historic barges, there are lots of exciting and unique events taking place across the county this summer.

Bring out your inner Dothraki with horse riding at Lee Valley Riding Centre or if you would like to learn to shoot using a bow and arrow like Ayra, try your hand at archery with Rope Runners (shooting from horseback not required). Learn basic survival skills at Lee Valley Regional Park, from Firecraft and Foraging to making ale and wood carving.

Essex has witnessed rebellions, pillaging, invasions and sieges – Discover some of our gruesome tales on a guided tour around one of our historic towns and cities.

Browse activities and events

A place to lay your head at night...

Wild Camping

Tents at Lee Valley Almost Wild campsite, Broxbourne
Go on a quest to discover your wild side at Lee Valley Almost Wild Campsite, Broxbourne. You’ll be transported to a rugged land where you can set up home at our woodland or riverside pitches, build your own campfire and enjoy singing ye old song (Ed Sheeran not included).
Glamping tents at Layer Marney Tower

Choose from six luxury encampments nestled in the woods at Layer Marney Tower. Some with hot tubs, all with comfortable beds, plumbed in toilets and running water. Each has its own hot shower, wood burning stove and sleeps 6 people. Share stories or have a sing song round the fire pit when darkness sets in.

All aboard!

The Reminder barge

Drift into a peaceful sleep aboard the barge “Reminder”, moored on Maldon’s Hythe Quay. This quirky accommodation is great for groups, sleeping up to 14 guests. There is no TV and limited mobile reception so escape from the modern world and enjoy the company of your fellow sailors in the open-plan galley and saloon before waking to fantastic views from the deck come morning.

Four Poster Bed at the Rose Barn
Stay at Great Lodge, an estate once used by Henry VIII and The Black Prince for hunting deer. Rest your head in the converted stables and cart sheds that have been transformed into beautiful B&B accommodation brimming with character. The Rose Barn boasts a four poster bed, free standing bath and chandelier!

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