110 feet high Norman keep was built c.1140 by Aubrey de Vere and is still owned by one of his descendants, The Honourable Thomas Lindsay and his wife Virginia. There are four floors to explore, including a magnificent Banqueting Hall spanned by a remarkable 28 foot arch, one of the largest Norman arches in England. A good view of this splendid room can be obtained from the Minstrels' Gallery, built within the thickness of the 12 foot walls.
A visit to the castle and its beautiful grounds is ideal for a family outing, and during the summer there are a variety of special events which bring its colourful history alive. Why not enjoy one of their exciting Jousting Tournaments or other entertainments.
There are delightful walks around the lake and through the shady woodland under the steep ramparts of the castle defences. This Valley Walk is famous for its spectacular snowdrops in February followed by a carpet of bluebells in May, and the castle's peaceful grounds and many fine trees are home to a large variety of birds and animals.
To reach the castle you will cross the Tudor bridge which spans the dry moat. This was built to replace the drawbridge by the 13th Earl of Oxford
in 1496. The Inner Bailey, the grassy area around the castle, provides a natural amphitheatre for spectators to watch the jousting and other events held during the summer months.
With ample free parking and a tranquil lakeside picnic area, you will be sure to enjoy your visit.
Another one of the popular Essex Tourist Attractions is the national award winning Mountfitchet Castle
; a unique all-weather, all-in-one heritage entertainment complex where prehistory, history and nostalgia combine to make one great and exciting day out for the whole family.
Of all the buildings within the Castle, the prison was paid least attention to in terms of comfort. Here you will see the prison thatched in long wheat straw, with the walls made of half-round oak trunks with large cracks, making it very draughty. Other buildings would have been plastered to keep out the wind, but as it was a prison, this was not deemed necessary.
Also to be found within the 10 acre site is the Toy Museum which is the largest in the world with at least 80,000 exhibits on display from late Victorian times.
The Castle Tea Room offers a range of hot and cold food and refreshments throughout the day and Picnics can be enjoyed in the covered area outside the shop. The Shop has recently been extended to include improved access for wheelchairs and pushchairs through a new ramped entrance.The Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker
is surely one of the Essex Tourist Attractions
not to be missed. Situated off the A128 in Kelvedon Hatch, you will find the Bunker steeped in history.
Originally built as an RAF ROTOR Station, the Bunker was then used as a Civil Defence Centre before becoming a Regional Government Head Quarters. It is now a major attraction in our county and can also be hired for various events.
The tour, which could last between one and two hours, is suitable for adults and children, and gives a wonderful insight into the history of this facility.
These are just three of the many Essex Tourist Attractions waiting to be explored. Come and see for yourself what else our historic county has to offer.EssexTouristGuide.com