The Chichester Hotel lies in the heart of the rural district of Rochford, local to Wickford, Basildon and Rayleigh, established as the ‘Rochford Hundred’ with the coming of the Normans to England. The district is rich with history, boasting numerous medieval churches and old buildings. The ‘Mount’ at Rayleigh is the remains of the original Norman castle Motte and Bailey and the oldest parts of the ‘Old House’ in Rochford date back to 1270. In 1515 Rochford Hall became the property of Bollen (Boleyn) whose daughter, Anne, was the second wife of Henry VIII. Henry visited the hall in 1533 and frequently visited Hadleigh castle (open to the public) which was built for King Edward III and commands extensive views over Leigh Marshes and the Thames Estuary. In Canewdon the Original village stocks can still be seen today.
Places to visit
Bradwell – St Peters-on-the-wall Saxon Chapel and sea wall walks.
Founded by St Cedd in 654 AD, reported to be the earliest church in England. St Peters sits adjacent to the sea wall and is the ideal starting point for a sea wall walk with views across to Mersey Island.
Hadleigh Castle and Country Park
The castle was built during the reign of Edward lll as part of the defences for the Thames Estuary set on the hill side overlooking the thames with views across to Kent. The castle remains form the most important late medieval castle in Essex.
The country park has been developed to incorporate the castle
Maldon Historic market town
Where the river Chelmer spills into the Blackwater estuary. There are country walks around Beely Abbey, or along the sea wall to Heybridge basin and sea lock. The town itself features many historic buildings and maintains the the feel of a traditional market town. Hythe Key is the home of a number of Thames Sailing barges and other traditional shipyard activities.
Burnham benefited from its location on the coast fristly as a ferry port then as a fishing port. More recently it has developed as a yachting centre with the highlight of the year being Burnham Week in late August. A gentle stroll along the foreshore offers views across the Crouch.
Battlesbridge Antiques Centre
Three minutes from the hotel the centre is comprised of Five period buildings housing over 80 antiques dealers. There is also a motorcycle museum. With tea rooms and 2 pubs it is the ideal place to while away time and have lunch or afternoon tea.
South Hanningfield Reservoir and wood
Ten minutes from the hotel. There is a visitor centre on the shore of the reservoir as well as woodland walks. The area is managed by Essex Wildlife Trust for conservation and to encourage wildlife diversity. There are also panoramic views from the causeway where large numbers of water birds gather as it is a popular feeding place. Also as part of the complex are Crows Heath Wood and Well Wood perhaps the best time to visit is in the spring when the display of Bluebells is outstanding.
Old Leigh is an old fishing village on the banks of the Thames overlooking Leigh Marshes with views across to Kent. The village is constrained by the railway and has therefor maintained its character with the buildings bunched together. There are still visible remnants of the cobbled streets.
Famous for its cockle sheds which are still in use. An excellent place to buy seafood, browse the craft shops or enjoy an ale in one of its pubs
Hyde Hall Gardens, Royal Horticultural Society.
Ten minutes from the hotel. Associated to the Gardens at Wisley Hyde Hall offers an environment that is challenging to cultivate with low rain fall, combined with its soil conditions and exposed site it is unforgettable in any season. A visit will demonstrate the importance of selecting the right plant for the right places. The estate stretches over 360 acres and the development is ongoing.
Five minutes from the hotel Tropical Wings Zoo has many attractions to amuse the young with butterfly houses, exotic animals birds, reptiles and invertebrates. There is also a large outside adventure play area and an indoor soft play centre. An ideal option for the young and young at heart.
Marsh Farm Country park
Five minutes from the hotel Marsh Farm is Run by Essex County Council as an educational facility where the children can get close to the animals on working farm in a safe environment. There is also a tea rooms and shop. The farm is part of a large country park with walks along the sea wall and view across the river crouch. Excellent for children.