The county of Essex is very flat and marshy, across which several rivers meander and many creeks project inland. The coastline stretches for 310 miles to the east and south-east. In the west the land rises to become undulating, although it remains flat and marshy along the edges of the Thames. The Essex coastline contains a fifth of Britain's mudflats and a sixth of its salt marshes. To the south west the 6,000 acre ancient Epping forest extends in a crescent shape from Manor Park in East London to the town of Epping. It is the largest public open space in the London area, plus a conservation area and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Essex provides a unique habitat for several rare species of flora and fauna. For example, the Sickle-leaved Hare's Ear is only found on one Essex roadside verge. Other rare species include the Mersea Pea (found on Mersea Island), Sea Hog's-fennel and the Lesser Calamint. The Skipper butterfly, the Emerald moth and the Matthew's Wainscot moth (unknown outside Britain) were first discovered on the Essex coast, which is also home to half of Britain's over-wintering population of Dark-bellied Brent Goose.

'Near Essex of the River Lea And anglers out with hook and worm And Epping Forest glades where we Had beanfeasts with my father's firm.'

John Betjeman (1954), "Essex"

County Town:

Chelmsford - distance from London: 36 miles (58 km)

Nearby Counties:

Cambridgeshire, Greater London, Hertfordshire, Kent, Suffolk

Train Operators:

National Express East Anglia

Nearest Airport:


Major Roads:

A12, A130, A131

Highest point:

High Wood (near Langley), 480 feet


Blackwater, Chelmer, Crouch, Lea Colne, Roding, Stour

County Flower:

Common Poppy

Local Delicacies:

Essex Hotpot - a pork stew topped with potato slices and cheese.
Colchester Pudding - made with tapioca and stewed fruit, topped with meringue.
Essex Pudding Pies - a rice and custard dish, baked in individual servings.

Places to Visit in Essex

Attractions, Museums & Days Out: Colne Valley Railway | Lee Valley Park | Mayhem Paintball | Royal Gunpowder Mills | Saffron Walden Museum | Secret Nuclear Bunker | Southend Museum | Southend Pier Museum
Castles, Monuments & Heritage Sites: Colchester Castle | Bourne Mill | Hadleigh Castle | Harwich Fort | Hedingham Castle | Mountfitchet Castle | Tilbury Fort | Waltham Abbey
Gardens & Historic Houses: Audley End | Beth Chatto Gardens | Layer Marney Tower | Mistley Towers | Paycocke's | RHS Garden Hyde Hall
Nature & Wildlife: Colchester Zoo | RSPB Essex Marshes | RSPB Canvey Marsh | RSPB Rainham Marshes

Towns and Villages in Essex

Chelmsford, Basildon, Romford, Southend, Colchester, Harlow, Brentwood, West Ham, Witham

History of Essex

First recorded in 604 as East Seaxe. Its meaning relates to the Old English for 'the land of the East Saxons'

Map of Essex

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