9 more pretty places to live in Essex

Finchingfield (c) Mark Seton, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Finchingfield (c) Mark Seton, Flickr (CC BY 2.0) - Credit: Archant

No one knows Essex better than the people of Essex so we asked where the prettiest places to live were, and you let us know. So, without further ado, here are the prettiest places, suggested by you.

We love hearing back from our readers, and after sharing 10 of our favourite prettiest places to live in Essex we were keen to find out if you agreed with our choices and also hear a few of your suggestions too.

Here are 9 places that you felt deserved a mention as the prettiest places to live in our county.

1. Finchingfield

The small village of Finchingfield is well known for being the epitome of a traditional English village.

With the picturesque combination of its duck pond, village green and assortment of sleepy little cottages, it is often featured in photographs for postcards and calendars.

It was even the filming location for Sky Television comedy ‘Chickens’ starring Joe Thomas and Simon Bird from The Inbetweeners.

Despite being small there is a lot going on in Finchingfield with a variety of very active clubs and societies from the local cricket club to the Horticultural Society and the Royal British Legion.

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The area is perfect for those who enjoy walking as there is an abundance of public footpaths, woodland and a myriad of beautiful sights including Georgian and Medieval cottages, St John the Baptist Church and an 18th century windmill.

The town has a good selection of local watering holes including The Three Tuns serving delicious food and The Finchingfield Lion with its superb range of real cask ales.

2. Felsted

The rural Essex village of Felsted lies on the north bank of the River Chelmer not far from Great Dunmow. It is well known for being home to the prestigious private school Felsted School, founded by The Lord Chancellor of England, Lord Rich in 1564.

The village has everything it needs to enjoy a quiet life with small local pub The Chequers, the village store, an arts and craft shop and even a charming delicatessen.

Fans of Indian cuisine will love the Razza Restaurant with its mix of both classic and contemporary Indian dishes, or if you’re craving a traditional Sunday Roast then The Swan Inn is definitely the place for you.

All food is freshly prepared to order and they stock a terrific selection of beers and ales, the perfect accompaniment for a Sunday spent by their communal log fire. It’s also just a short drive from the stunning Leez Priory, a 16th century mansion and award winning wedding location.

3. Writtle

This pretty village located just a mile from Chelmsford was at one time described as being the loveliest village in England.

Probably due to its traditional village green complete with a darling duck pond, ancient cottages and it’s collection of beautiful old churches.

It is also home to Hylands House & Park, a Grade II neo-classical villa and 232 hectare park well known for hosting the annual music festival, V Festival.

Writtle has all of the comforts and facilities of a modern village, with a large variety of shops and businesses from a greengrocers, butchers and bakers to tea rooms, yoga and Pilates and jewellery and beauty shops.

There is a staggering selection of pubs and restaurants with local watering holes The Wheatsheaf and 17th century family pub The Rose & Crown.

Both can be found on The Green and serve delicious home cooked comfort food and real ales. 

4. Frinton-on-Sea

This seaside town in Essex’s Tendring District once had a reputation for being a social hang out for the high society often being referred to as East Anglia’s Bond Street.

Both Winston Churchill and the Prince of Wales were frequent visitors with the former even renting a house there.

Interestingly, although there has always been numerous bars along the seafront –belonging to the hotels and Golf Club – there were no pubs present in the town until 2000.

The first pub to open in Frinton was The Lock & Barrel and with its large open fire, traditional pub classics and a warm, friendly atmosphere it’s an ideal place to spend an evening.

If that isn’t your cup of tea then take a stroll along Connaught Avenue you’ll find a myriad of wonderful cafés, eateries and restaurants tucked away amongst the countless boutiques and independent shops. For those that enjoy staying active, the Frinton Golf Club, Lawn Tennis Clubs and Cricket Club are all excellent.

5. Great Waltham

The village of Great Waltham, or Church End as its sometimes known, is one of two villages within the Great Waltham Parish just a few miles from Chelmsford.

It is also home to the 18th century red-bricked mansion, Langleys that has nearly 62 hectares in surrounding grounds and parkland. Although it is said to be a deer park, it is mostly used as grazing land for cattle.

At one time the village was known to be rather bustling; with shops, a bakery and a garage, sadly those things have now closed and left behind only a post office, two churches and few good local pubs.

One of which is The Beehive, an independent, family run pub and a real favourite for the community.

6. Kelvedon

Kelvedon Village in the Braintree District dates back nearly 2,000 years all the way to Roman times and is believed to be (or be near) the Roman settlement known as Canonium.

Over the years there have been many artefacts found in Kelvedon dating back to the Bronze Age, including Celtic coins from the Trinovantes.

Today the village is home to many different businesses and the primary school, Kelvedon St Mary’s School that was voted as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.

There is a decent selection of pubs and restaurants to choose from depending on your tastes from China Garden, or Indian Cottage.

If you’re looking to quench your thirst then look no further than The Railway Tavern which serves a fantastic range of drinks and has a beautiful beer garden overlooking the river, perfect for a few drinks when the sun is shining.

7. Rayne

Another village sitting in the Braintree District is Rayne, winner of the 2006 Essex Village of the Year Award and two time winner of the Calor Village of the Year Award 2006/7.

Rayne has a rather unusual history that dates back to the medieval age, where it was said that infertile women who visited the church were later able, through some sort of miracle, to conceive.

Rayne has a small community of just over 2,000 and the facilities available in the village reflect that. There are a small number of pubs and restaurants: The Swan, a traditional pub offering simple, home cooked food at fair prices and The Welsh Princess, more of a local pub, known for hosting darts evenings and serving well kept ale.

It features two regular ales and a guest ale that is changed regularly. If you’re searching for a more formal meal then 47 The Street is ideal.

The stylish, modern family run restaurant serves the very best contemporary Italian cuisine the area has to offer.

8. Toot Hill

Toot Hill is a very small village located in the Epping Forest District and is well known for its excellent golf course with spectacular views, rolling hills and water hazards dotted across the huge parkland course.

Each year the Village holds its annual Toot Hill Country Show, taking place on the first Saturday of August each year there are a variety of stalls selling hand crafted goods, food and other goodies. There is also a dog show with a selection of different categories from ‘best puppy’ to ‘golden oldie’.

The village is home to two popular pubs The Green Man Pub & Courtyard Restaurant and The Moletrap. The latter being a CAMRA award winning public house specialising in local ales and microbreweries and the former known for its warm atmosphere, cosy décor and simple, delicious food.

9. Ashdon

Ashdon is village and civil parish just four miles from Saffron Walden; it sits close to the Essex and Cambridgeshire border on the River Bourn which is notorious for flooding, in 2007, after an incredibly heavy rainfall, the river flash flooded the town.

The village itself is quiet with just one school, Ashdon Primary that has less than 100 students in attendance. Bragg’s Mill, recently renovated, is one of the few remaining post mills in Essex, fully restored and reopened in 2006, it’s Grade II listed and makes for an excellent photograph, particularly on a sunny day.

There are two churches in the area, the 13th century All Saints Church and Ashdon Baptist Church, and as of 1973, the Marpa House Buddhist Retreat that is run by the Dharma Trust.