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The Country Retreat tents are set in a piece of private woodland behind the main hall and are all equipped with proper working showers and flushing toilets as well as comfortable mattresses and over 45 square metres of living space with the private hot tub next to each tent to make sure you enjoy the great outdoors on this remarkable estate in full relaxation.
Drive barely an hour out of London, past Tiptree, home of Wilkins jam, turn off before Roman Colchester and you'll find a surprisingly wild and haunting part of East Anglia. As the road gets narrower and narrower, you’ll catch sight of Layer Marney Tower, its brickwork and terracotta glowing in the sunshine. It is the the tallest Tudor gatehouse in England and during your stay you’ll get to enjoy the fantastic views of the coast, from its summit.
From on high you may find it harder to spot your encampment - nestling in the birch, ash and alder trees that you’ll share with pheasants, woodpeckers, muntjac and owls. Some of the encampments look onto red deer in adjacent fields - the Marneys were given a licence to make a park for hunting back in 1267.
In modern times, countries and cities have vied with each other to build the tallest building. Alas ‘twas ever thus, even in Tudor times. The Marneys followed the example of their monarch, Henry VIII who believed that a home should reflect the magnificence of its owner. As Lord Privy Seal and Captain of the Bodyguard, Henry Marney got caught up in the craze and duly set about rivalling Cardinal Wolsey’s work at Hampton Court. The result was the tallest Tudor gatehouse in the country. The building work continued after his demise in 1523, but was brought to a premature end in 1525 with the death of his only son John.
These days you'll be given the warmest of welcomes by Nicholas and Sheila Charrington who now run the estate, together with their four children.
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Many sites set a maximum occupancy of 6/8 people per pitch, so try breaking your booking down into smaller groups to generate more results. For example, if you’re a group of 10, enter 5 people in your initial search and then book 2 pitches.
However, where the pitch or accommodation occupancy allows it, you can make a booking for up to 30 adults and 30 children in one booking.
To book multiple pitches or accommodation, use the 'Special requests' box on the booking page to ask to be sited together. Complete the booking form for the first booking (you can add a password and save your card so that we remember your details). Then click "Make another booking like this" at the top of the confirmation page to make the next booking.
Large groups: check the listing page for any group restrictions set out in the terms and section titled ‘Please note’.
Large tents/caravans: check the restrictions on unit dimensions to ensure your unit is suitable for the space you will be provided with.
Leisure on site
Bar or club house
Indoor swimming pool
Outdoor swimming pool
Amenities on site
Ice pack freezing
Parent & baby washroom
Pick-up from public transport
Tents for hire
Gas cylinders available
Commercial vehicles allowed
Dogs allowed all year
Horse riding nearby
Indoor pool nearby
Single-sex groups welcome
Student groups welcome
Nearby farmers' market
Public transport nearby
Tiny (1-10 pitches)
Tipis, yurts, or wigwams
- Coach stations
Marks Tey: Rail Station Coach Stop — 3.9 miles
3.9 miles Colchester Bus Station — 6.5 miles
6.5 miles Witham (Essex): Newland Street Coach Stop — 6.9 miles
- Train stations
Marks Tey Rail Station — 4.0 miles
4.0 miles Kelvedon Rail Station — 4.2 miles
4.2 miles Colchester Town Rail Station — 6.3 miles
- Ferry ports
Point Clear Ferry Landing — 9.8 miles
9.8 miles Brightlingsea Ferry Landing — 9.9 miles
9.9 miles Burnham on Crouch Ferry Landing — 13.9 miles
London Southend Airport — 18.1 miles
18.1 miles London Stansted Airport — 23.4 miles
From Ipswich and the East:
Turn off the A12 at the Halstead exit (B1124). At the roundabout take the first exit left. (You will pass a sign for Layer Marney Tower that says follow the signs to Maldon). At the next roundabout take the third exit to Maldon, Tollgate Retail Park and ColchesterZoo, passing Sea Pets and Homebase on your left. You will now go over three small roundabouts: at the first go straight over, at the second turn left and at the third, a double roundabout, turn right to Maldon. Follow the road for just over a mile to a t-junction. Turn right to Maldon (B1022). After two miles you will see, on the right, the entrance to Birch Quarry and soon after a turning on the left signed to Layer Marney Tower. Take this turning, go straight over the cross-roads and follow the lane for 1/4 of a mile. The entrance gates to Layer Marney Tower are on the right. Sat nav will take you to this point and now you need to follow these instructions: do not go through these gates, but instead carry on down the road. At the end of the road turn right down a track signed to the church and Hall Farm cottages. Go along the track and past the south front of Layer Marney Tower and into the church car park. Turn left down a track signed to Hall Farm cottages and near the end of the track turn right, just before the gateway to the farm buildings. Follow this short track around to the left and into the car park which is on the right.
From London and the West:
Leave the A12 at the Kelvedon turning (B1024). Drive through Kelvedon, crossing the river and at the top of the hill turn right by the Old Anchor pub, to Maldon and Tiptree (B1023). Follow this road for about two miles to a t-junction. Turn left to Colchester (B1022). Turn right after 2 miles, at the signpost to Layer Marney Tower. There is a sharp corner almost immediately, followed soon after by a left turning signed to Layer Marney Tower which you should take. At the first cross-roads turn right (signed), and drive for about 1/4 mile. The entrance gates to Layer Marney
Tower are on the right. Sat nav will take you this far now you need to follow these instructions: do not go through these gates, but instead carry on down the road. At the end of the road turn right down a track signed to the church and Hall Farm cottages. Go along the track and past the south front of Layer Marney Tower and into the church car park. Turn left down a track signed to Hall Farm cottages and near the end of the track turn right, just before the gateway to the farm buildings. Follow this short track around to the left and into the car park which is on the right.
You are most welcome to visit the Tower, just show your free pass (which you will find in your tent folder)
in the shop. Come and enjoy a cream tea in our tea rooms or pick up a souvenir in the shop.
The children may enjoy our play equipment or visiting the goats, who are always very keen to have visitors.
There is a magnificent medieval barn on one side of the courtyard and the Long Gallery, once the stables for Lord Marney’s horses. If you are with us in the early part of the season, come and bottle feed the lambs. The Tower and gardens are open to visitors from 12 noon and 5pm on Wednesdays and Sundays from April to the end of September and in July and August are open every day of the week except for Friday and Saturday. It is well worth taking the time to climb to the top of the Tower and enjoy the views which stretch down to the River Blackwater estuary and beyond. The are welcome to walk around the house garden and play area on Sundays and Wednesdays between 12 noon and 4pm.
The estate is a mixture of grassland, woodland and arable, with a small stream called Layer Brook flowing through the land, meandering from Tiptree to Abberton Reservoir and thence to the coast.
A short bike ride away is Abberton reservoir, one of the region’s top bird-watching spots, populated by scarce waders and tree-nesting cormorants. Carry on a bit further and you’ll hit the tiny wriggling creeks of the Blackwater estuary, part of Essex’s wildly indented shoreline. The area is famous for the Colchester native oyster: try them out at the nearby renowned Company Shed on Mersea Island.
Essex has a well earned reputation as being flat county – those of us who live here prefer to think of it as undulating – and during your stay we hope you will come to appreciate the big skies and sunsets that we enjoy, as well as easy cycling and walking. There are plenty of pubs nearby that welcome families, some within walking distance, others more a cycle rids away. To the south of Layer Marney lies the Blackwater estuary, the coast and delicious food.
- Colchester Zoo (3.2 miles)
- Colchester Castle Museum (6.4 miles)
- firstsite (6.4 miles)
- Coggeshall Grange Barn (5.6 miles)
- Paycocke's (5.9 miles)
Find local routes on the National Cycle Network - over 12,000 miles of cycling routes.