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Gourmet Garden Trail -Tudor merchant houses to breweries.

Gourmet Garden Trail -Tudor merchant houses to breweries.

Discover and explore historic castles, rural vineyards and transformed gardens in the exciting county of Essex. This itinerary introduces you to some truly great attractions around Essex, from picturesque Tudor merchant houses to an estuary island brewery.

Day 1: Colchester


Your experience begins at the wonderful Beth Chatto Gardens in Elmstead Market just east of Colchester. A real treat for the senses, you can’t help but wonder about the hard work and passion that went into transforming this once barren and forgotten land into an oasis by Beth Chatto OBE herself.

You can spend as long as four hours in the gardens so feel free to take your time to explore, with a stop off at the café for refreshments and homemade cakes.
For lunch head over to The Brasserie at Wivenhoe House, just 10 minutes from the garden. It issurrounded by beautiful woodland and actually sits in the grounds of Essex University, but you wouldn’t know it!


Again, just a 10 minute drive from Wivenhoe House and you will be in the vibrant town of Colchester. Once the Roman capital of England, it is also the oldest recorded town in the UK.

Your first stop will be the wonderful Norman Colchester Castle built on the foundations of the Temple of Claudius, and the largest Norman keep in Europe. The beautiful victorian Castle Park which surrounds it is home to many events throughout the year, plus beautiful flower beds including a yearly planted war memorial.

Your next stop will be Mersea Island Brewery just seven miles from Colchester. Here you can buy traditional and award-winning homemade ales, as well as wine - they have vineyards too!


Travel back to Colchester for your overnight stay and dinner in the exclusive Greyfriars Boutique Hotel in the heart of the town. Providing 26 luxuriously appointed bedrooms, as well as Grand suites, each room is unique and reflects the centuries of the three buildings that form Greyfriars.

With lavish furnishings and comfy beds, you’ll enjoy the perfect night’s sleep.
Dinner will be served in the Cloisters restaurant, where the table d’hote and Á La Carte menus are served seven days a week using locally sourced produce.

Day 2: Braintree, Cressing and Coggeshall


After a hearty ‘full English’ breakfast, set off for your first stop of the day – Bardfield Vineyard in Great Bardfield, a wonderfully tranquil area of Essex. As well as visiting the vineyards and winetasting if desired, you can take a self-guided tour of the wonderful brick and tile Grade I listed barn, which was gifted to Anne of Cleves by Henry VIII. The walled gardens are also a joy, together with the herd of alpaca!  Don’t forget to purchase your favourite wine from the shop too.


Your next stop will be the interesting site of Cressing Temple Barns and Gardens, in the village of Cressing just south-east of Braintree. The Grade I Barns are of particular historical interest to visitors, as they were given to the Knights Templar in 1137 and are among some of the oldest timber-framed buildings, and few surviving Templar buildings in England. Among the Gardens, the Walled Garden is faithfully reconstructed as a Tudor pleasure garden – one of the few in the country, and a delight to behold.

Your last stop of this two-day adventure will be the National Trust property Paycocke’s House and Garden in the pretty village of Coggeshall. This stunning Tudor Merchant’s House has many stories to tell behind its walls! Find out about the ancestry of the house, how it was constructed, plus take a look at the changes it has undergone during its long life, spanning over 500 years. The house – not to mention the garden – has had a long history and, due to its many different owners, is a fascinating and wonderful ‘hidden treasure’ of Essex.

You’ll also find a quaint little tearoom here where you’ll be able to enjoy refreshments before your journey home.

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Product Information

  1. Beth Chatto's Plants & Gardens

    Elmstead Market, Colchester

    Covering 6 acres, these beautiful gardens and nursery were created by award-winning plantswoman Beth Chatto.

  2. Wivenhoe House Hotel


    Wivenhoe House is a beautiful 18th Century four-star hotel, near to the pretty quayside village of Wivenhoe, and minutes from Britain’s oldest recorded town, Colchester.

  3. Colchester Castle Museum


    Colchester Castle is the largest Norman Keep in Europe. Constructed on the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius. The Castle Museum today reveals many fascinating layers of history to visitors.

  4. Greyfriars Hotel


    Located in Colchester's historic cultural quarter, Greyfriars is an exquisite, Michelin recommended 4* luxury hotel with superb restaurant, afternoon tea parlour, terrace and lounge bars.

  5. Cressing Temple Barns


    Historically the most important - and dimensionally the largest - of the Knights Templar's Essex landholdings, Cressing Temple is a fascinating medieval moated farmstead boasting the oldest recorded timber-framed barn in the world.

  6. Great Lodge and Bardfield Vineyard

    Great Bardfield

    Great Lodge is a tranquil rural estate in North Essex with a magnificent Grade 1 listed barn, walled gardens, vineyard and self-catering/ B& B accommodation.

Itinerary Distances

FromToDistance * (metric)
Beth Chatto's Plants & Gardens (51.87449,1.00388)Wivenhoe House Hotel (51.87858,0.95169)3.25
Wivenhoe House Hotel (51.87858,0.95169)Colchester Castle Museum (51.89052,0.903)3.24
Colchester Castle Museum (51.89052,0.903)Greyfriars Hotel (51.89005,0.90629)0.21
Greyfriars Hotel (51.89005,0.90629)Cressing Temple Barns (51.83746,0.61163)18.98
Cressing Temple Barns (51.83746,0.61163)Great Lodge and Bardfield Vineyard (51.9342,0.46319)13.35
Total Distance *39.03 miles
Estimated Journey Time1.26 hours

* Approximate distance by road

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