5 Must-See National Heritage sites in Essex and South Suffolk

From secret gardens made for magical walks to some of England’s most stunning stately homes, Essex and neighbouring Suffolk is packed with places to visit this summer. With our love of nature reignited over the last year or so, connecting with the great outdoors is one lifestyle change we’re happy to keep. Here’s a round-up of some of our favourite spots we think you’ll like too.

St Botolph’s Priory, Colchester

Audley,End,House,Saffron,Walden,Essex,England.1. Audley End House and Gardens

The interiors at Audley End House will knock your socks off. This was once one of the largest and most opulent houses in Jacobean England. Plus, it’s just such a great place for wandering around their spacious grounds and admiring the gorgeous gardens designed by Capability Brown, which includes a beautifully restored parterre and organic kitchen gardens. Take a stroll over to the stable yard and meet the resident friendly horses before topping up your energy with a delicious treat in their onsite cafe. Or grab a coffee on your way back to Stoke By Nayland from Curious Goat in Saffron Walden: http://curiousgoat.co.uk

Located: Off London Road, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4JF


Framlingham,Castle,Suffolk,England.2. Framlingham Castle

Less than an hour away from Stoke by Nayland, and surrounded by parkland and a picturesque lake, Framlingham Castle was once at the centre of a vast network of power and influence. Pluck up your nerve and walk the impressive wall walk and explore the towering walls behind which Mary Tudor was proclaimed Queen of England. From the heady 10.5 metres high curtain wall, soak up Suffolk landscape and imagine what life was like over 500 years ago.

Located: Church Street, Framlingham, Suffolk, IP13 9BP


St John’s Abbey Gate

3. St John’s Abbey Gate

South of Colchester town centre, this intricate gate-house was decorated in East Anglian ‘flushwork’ and is the only surviving relic of Benedictine Abbey of St John. Built around 1400 to strengthen the abbey’s defences following the Peasants’ Revolt, you can view the exterior any time during daylight hours and the interior is open occasionally during Heritage Open Days.

Located: St John’s Green, Colchester, Essex, CO2 7EZ


St Botolph’s Priory, Colchester

4. St Botolph’s Priory, Colchester

Located on the edge of Colchester town centre, and founded about 1100, St Botolph’s was one of the first Augustinian priories in England. It showcases an impressive example of early Norman architecture, built in flint and reused Roman brick, the church displays massive circular pillars, round arches and an elaborate west front.

Located: Priory Street, Colchester, Essex, CO2 7EE


Orford,Castle,Suffolk5. Orford Castle

Discover one of England’s most unusual keeps, at this intriguing visitor attraction in Suffolk. The unusual polygonal tower keep of Orford Castle stands beside the pretty town and former port, which Henry II also developed here.

The castle is impressively intact which means you can explore from the basement, through the lower and upper halls to the roof where there are wonderful views seaward to Orford Ness.

Explore the maze of the passages and the well within the basement and view the Upper Hall display unit which features Roman brooches, medieval seals and coins. Or take the audio tour and embark on a historical journey around the castle.

Don’t forget to stop off at the famous Pump Street Bakery in the village’s centre, where you can fill your boots with incredible artisan breads, pastries, cakes and their signature Pump Street chocolate. https://pumpstreetchocolate.com/

Located: Orford, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 2ND

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