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Feather Down Country Retreats (Layer Marney Tower)

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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.

Depart: (2 nights)

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Leisure on site

Bar or club house

Cycle hire

Evening entertainment


Fitness centre

Games room

Hot tub

Indoor swimming pool

Kids' club

On-site restaurant/cafe

Outdoor swimming pool

Play area

TV room

Take away



Amenities on site

Bath available

Car parking by pitch/unit

Composting toilet

Disabled facilities

Drying room

Food shop

Free wifi

Ice pack freezing

Internet access


Parent & baby washroom

Pick-up from public transport


Pub toilets

Public telephone

Shower available

Tents for hire

Toilet block

Washing-up area


Groups welcome

Family friendly

Motorcycle friendly

Single-sex groups welcome

Student groups welcome


Barbecue provided

Barbecues allowed

Campfires allowed

Commercial vehicles allowed

Dogs allowed

Dogs allowed all year

Camping 2.0

Pre-erected tents

Tipis, yurts, or wigwams




Remote location

Spectacular scenery

Walkers' paradise

Wild camping

Wildlife haven


Charging facilities

Chemical disposal

Communal fridge

Gas cylinders available

No drinkable water point

No hot water

No running water

Recycling available

Renewable energy

Nearby amenities

Bar nearby

Nearby farmers' market

Public transport nearby

Shop nearby


Tiny (1-10 pitches)

Nearby leisure

Fishing nearby

Golf nearby

Horse riding nearby

Indoor pool nearby

Restaurant nearby


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  • Colchester, Essex, England, CO5 9US
  • Timezone Europe/London GMT (GMT+00:00)   GPS 51.8243°N 0.7958°E

Nearest transport

Coach stations
Marks Tey: Rail Station Coach Stop — 3.9 miles
Colchester Bus Station — 6.5 miles
Witham (Essex): Newland Street Coach Stop — 6.9 miles
Train stations
Marks Tey Rail Station — 4.0 miles
Kelvedon Rail Station — 4.2 miles
Colchester Town Rail Station — 6.3 miles
Ferry ports
Point Clear Ferry Landing — 9.8 miles
Brightlingsea Ferry Landing — 9.9 miles
Burnham on Crouch Ferry Landing — 13.9 miles
London Southend Airport — 18.1 miles
London Stansted Airport — 23.4 miles


Please note: All distances on this page are calculated "as the crow flies" - please check actual distance depending on your mode of travel using the Get directions button above.

Local attractions

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.

Must see

  • Colchester Zoo (3.2 miles)
  • Colchester Castle Museum (6.4 miles)
  • firstsite (6.4 miles)

National Trust

  • Coggeshall Grange Barn (5.6 miles)
  • Paycocke's (5.9 miles)

Cycle routes

Find local routes on the National Cycle Network - over 12,000 miles of cycling routes.

Please note: All distances on this page are calculated "as the crow flies" - please check actual distance depending on your mode of travel.


Permitted arrival/departure time

On-site accommodation
Arrive:  4 p.m. –  6 p.m.
Depart by:  10:30 a.m.

Feather Down Country Retreats (Layer Marney Tower) cancellation policy

Refunds not given.

If you need to cancel or amend your booking, please give as much notice as possible so that someone else has the chance to book. You may wish to buy holiday insurance for cancellations and for your property/injury whilst away.

Please note that your deposit is paid to and is non-refundable.


Deposit transferable during COVID-19.
The balance is due 8 weeks before arrival, or if the arrival date is sooner than 8 weeks then the balance should be paid as soon as possible.

Please contact Feather Down Country Retreats (Layer Marney Tower) to arrange payment of balance using the telephone number in your confirmation.

Deposit transferable during COVID-19.

Payment methods accepted on the park


Terms and conditions

Site booking terms and conditions


  • Does Feather Down Country Retreats (Layer Marney Tower) have a swimming pool? No View all features
  • Is Feather Down Country Retreats (Layer Marney Tower) dog friendly? Yes View all features
  • What attractions are near Feather Down Country Retreats (Layer Marney Tower)? 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 … Read more
  • When can I check in and check out of Feather Down Country Retreats (Layer Marney Tower)?
    On-site accommodation
    Arrive:  4 p.m. –  6 p.m.
    Depart by:  10:30 a.m.
    Read more


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Terms and conditions

Please read the park terms and conditions below and the terms and conditions.

Additional terms

Bookings can only be made by persons over 18 years of age.

Force majeure on the side of Feather Down Farm Days exists if the implementation of the agreement is entirely or partially, temporarily or permanently, prevented due to circumstances which are beyond the control of Feather Down Farm Days, including threat of war, staff strikes, blockades, fire, floods and other disruptions or events.

If you leave your tent in an improper condition, additional (cleaning) costs may be charged.

You must take up any complaint with the farmer immediately, in order to allow us to solve the matter as soon as possible. Should the complaint not be settled to your satisfaction, then you have the option, up to one month after departure from the farm to lodge the complaint in writing or by email with Feather Down Farm Days.

Remember that you will be staying on a working farm with live animals and potentially dangerous farm equipment amongst other hazards. Also you must be aware that some of the camp equipment (such as the bread oven) may be dangerous if misused. Whilst we and your host farmers take great care to keep you safe, accidents can happen and neither we nor the farm are responsible for such accidents. It is your responsibility to supervise any children. If you notice that any equipment looks faulty and/or unsafe you must inform the host farmer as soon as possible. We strongly recommend that you take out travel insurance against the risk of accidents and your stay being cut short.

It is permitted to receive visitors during your Feather Down farm stay. These visitors must report themselves to the farm on arrival. There is a charge for visitors of £20 per car.