Conceived as a grand Tudor palace to rival Hampton Court, Layer Marney in Essex, despite its owner’s grand plans, was left unfinished with only its tower making it past the design stages. Set in the scenic Essex countryside between Colchester and Witham, Layer Marney Tower is an intriguing place to visit.
Boasting the tallest Tudor tower in the country (it’s a 99-step climb to the top), the curious stately pile, which was commissioned by Henry, Lord Marney, is a striking building and magnificent to behold. It’s surrounded by pretty gardens, a small farm and the local parish church. It doesn’t take long to wander around the Tower and the gardens, but it’s a charming place to spend an hour or two.
Some of the highlights include the cute and playful children’s wallpaper to be seen in one of the rooms within the tower and the splendid views from the top of the tower towards the Blackwater River. The Long Gallery with its grand, dark timber beamed ceiling and large wooden fireplace (which can be hired as a wedding venue) is lovely. While the little church is the resting of place of various Marneys through the ages, some boast fine marble tombs.
Following our trip to Layer Marney Tower my friends and I headed over to the Tiptree Jam Shop and Tea Room in nearby Tiptree for lunch. When my friend mentioned the factory I swore blind that I’d never heard of Tiptree jam – it was only when I saw a jar that I realised it was the jam I’d always thought of as Wilkin & Sons (above).
Lunch was great, the portions were huge and the cream tea to die for. After lunch we headed over to the factory shop. I had no idea Tiptree made so many different varieties of jams and chutneys – think of a fruit, they probably have it in some form. I opted for a jar of my favourite strawberry and champagne conserve, the hot gooseberry chutney and the tomato chutney, although I was also tempted by the delicious sounding raspberry with cassis miniature. So much choice, so little room to carry it all home!
Layer Marney Tower, Layer Marney, nr Colchester, Essex C05 9US
Adults £7, Children £4.50
Tiptree Jam Shop and Tea Room, Wilkin & Sons Limited, Tiptree, Essex CO5 0RF
Open seven days a week