The East of England
The East of England or East Anglia, is where you will find some of the best sandy beaches in the
whole of Europe, other than some astonishing history.
Characterized by its flat sprawling landscapes where vast fenlands
sweep gently out to the sea.
Hidden between the rivers and gentle hills are magnificent cities,
amazing traditional villages and miles of spectacular coastline, with its extensive and famous sandy beaches, often used in movies.
The East of England includes the counties of
Essex and Hertfordshire.
Around its central farmlands, Norfolk offers rapid changes of
scenery along its hunched north-eastern shoulder, from bustling Great
Yarmouth to the lonely shingle spit of Blakeney
Inland you can find great country houses such as
Blickling Hall and Holkham
Hall; must drive through the dark conifers of Thetford Forest, or skirts the reed whispering
waters of the Norfolk Broads, where sails often seem to be
riding across the fields. Other sails are those of old windmills, often smartly restored.
Buildings present contrast of colour and texture: the flint of Breckland, velvety brown carr stone around royal Sandringham, and the timber, plaster, brick and stone of King’s Lynn and the
cathedral city of Norwich.
Echoes of history range from the flint mines of Grime’s Graves to
the Castles of Caister, Castle
Rising and Castle Acre, while museums honour the role of
fishermen, lifeboat men, weavers and merchants in Norfolk life. Between the River
Stour in the south and the River Waveney along its
northern border, Suffolk presents a patchwork of different landscapes, typical of the
East of England. In the west lie sandy heathlands, near the abbey
town of Bury St.
Edmunds and lush grasslands around Newmarket where racehorses gallop.
The estuaries of the Deben and
Stour cut into the county’s south east coast and between
them are the rich farmlands commemorated in the paintings of the Suffolk artists John
Constable and Thomas Gainsborough.
Journeys inland lead to working water mills and to busy vineyards
producing light white wines.
Stately buildings include Christchurch Mansion, Ickworth and
Melford Hall. There are also seasoned and historic castles at
Framlingham and Orford. For birdwatchers, Minsmere Nature Reserve is a paradise and
devotees of old cars, trams and trolleybuses will make for the East Anglia
Transport Museum near Lowestoft, which is the most
easterly city in the East of England and actually the whole of the United Kingdom.
A vivid glimpse of a more remote past is provided by the West Stow Anglo Saxon village,
built on an ancient pagan site. The East of England houses the
source of knowledge. Once the poet Rupert Brooke said of Cambridgeshire that it
is “the shire for men who understand”, no doubt thinking of his beloved university’s dream
beauty.Cambridgeshire has long encouraged quality; it is seen in the
sublime craftsmanship of Ely and Peterborough cathedrals and in the relics of its great men.
Burghley House declares the power of Elizabeth I’s chief minister,
Wimpole Hall’s Home Farm recalls the innovative policies of the 3rd
Earl of Hardwicke, while the Cromwell Museum remembers a
revolutionary of another kind. However the greatest monument to
Cambridgeshire genius is its landscape of rich, flat acres won from the primeval swamps by centuries of skilled
toil, a great achievement of which people are very proud in the East of England.Some of the pumping engines that held the fenland waters in check, like that at
Stretham, survive and in Wicken Fen there is a glimpse of the swampy
wilderness that Hereward the Wake knew.
London’s suburban fingers penetrate deep into the heart of Essex,
but only a few miles beyond their tips are salt marches where the only sound is that of seabirds, country towns
whose centres have scarcely changed over the centuries and gardens lovingly tended for generations.
The East of England includes the city of Southend on
Sea, a city where people like to retire and that is full of pensioners. This makes it a very
peaceful place and even more so Leigh on Sea, that still
conserves a certain atmosphere.
Essex is a rich agricultural county and more and more farmers
offer open days to give visitors the chance to see the seasonal round of activities.
There are also traditional attractions: great houses, represented
by the Jacobean splendours of Audley End. Fascinating smaller houses
such as Paycocke’s merchant’s house in Coggeshall, with its wealth of carved
woodwork, so characteristic of the county.
The East of England offers many medieval castles, some long
reduced to romantic ruin, such as Hadleigh, others still family homes
such as Layer Marney Tower. At the heart of Essex is the great forest
of Epping, where trees have provided shade since before the Romans arrived.
Association with John Bunyan are strong in the green and
peaceful county of Bedfordshire, where water meadows flank
the meandering River Great Ouse and rolling downs climb towards the Chilterns.
The author of “The Pilgrim’s Progress” was born in
the village of Elstow and imprisoned for his religious views in
the county town of Bedford. Both places have many reminders of
Wildlife, both native and exotic, has a few favoured places in the
East of England.
At Whipsnade Zoo
more than 2000 animals room free and there is a wild animal kingdom at Woburn Abbey called Woburn Safari Park. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is based at Sandy, where
visitors can tour a nature reserve. Memorial to the famous abound in Hertfordshire. The Cathedral of St. Albans is dedicated to the Roman soldier who became England’s
first Christian martyr.
The astute Robert
Cecil, Secretary of State to Elizabeth I, built
Hatfield House in whose park in 1558 the young Princess Elizabeth
learned she had become queen. Elizabeth had lived with
Henry VIII’s other children at Ashridge House, which later became the home of the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, pioneer of Britain’s inland waterways.
The Victorian novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton owned Knebworth House and Bernard Shaw
found a heaven of peaceful inspiration at Shaw’s Corner. The
birthplace of the statesman Cecil Rhodes is preserved at
The county is predominantly rural and its traditional farming life
is features at Standalone Farm, a gem in the East of
The Aldenham and
Lee Valley parks conserve Hertfordshire’s leafy countryside and
Northaw Great Wood and Whippendell
Wood are reminders of the ancient forest that once covered the area. Hertfordshire has lovely manmade landscapes too, at such places as Benington Lordship Gardens and the Gardens of the
Rose. The East of England provides you with all the history you are looking for and with one of the
World’s most notorious cities to study.
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