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Why Billericay in Essex remains a property hotspot

St Mary Magdalen Church in the high street has been a fixture since the 14th century Credit: Louise Howeson
St Mary Magdalen Church in the high street has been a fixture since the 14th century Credit: Louise Howeson

The history of Billericay goes back to 1291 when it was recorded as 'Byllyrica'. According to basildon.gov.uk there were many variations of the name throughout the Middle Ages.

Many inns existed in Billericay during the 13th and 14th centuries, including one called The Red Lion – which is still a fixture on the high street to this day.

Pilgrims from Canterbury, seeking safety from highwaymen and a place to rest, would come to stay overnight in the town before continuing their journey to Tilbury where they would cross the Thames.

St Mary Magdalen Church in the high street has been a fixture since the 14th century. It was in the 15th century that rebuilding took place and only the tower of that church remains, and the bell from the original building still rings out. However, the rest of it was replaced in the 18th century with the existing building.

Billericay has been a desirable location to live for many years and throughout the centuries many businessmen have built fine houses in the town, which are coveted period properties today. It continues to be a sought-after place to live and is a more lively location than the leafy and quiet nearby Stock, with the added benefit of a train station with direct routes to London.

The high street has many estate agents dotted along the road marketing properties on the buoyant property market. One of the most expensive roads is Norsey Road, where homes sold for an average of £1,676,111 over the last year according to Rightmove.

At present, the property market is buoyant in Billericay, with homes fetching an average price of £578,377 over the last year. Detached properties sold for an average of £905,268, with terraced properties fetching £384,547.

Great British Life: For fine dining, head to The Magic Mushroom restaurant Credit: Sadman Akib PhotographyFor fine dining, head to The Magic Mushroom restaurant Credit: Sadman Akib Photography

Eat and Drink

The high street is bustling with great places to eat and drink. The popular chain restaurant Giggling Squid offers customers a tasty Thai menu, while Spice King restaurant is the place to go for Indian cuisine. In addition, luxury bakery chain Gail’s takes a top spot on the street alongside Wendell’s.

Finally, Wildwood is a pizza, pasta and grill eatery serving the town and Queenies café offers up incredible milkshakes and other goodies.

Great British Life: The Chequers has a Cask Marque approved ale cellar Credit: Louise Howeson The Chequers has a Cask Marque approved ale cellar Credit: Louise Howeson

For a drink in a cosy pub, head to The Chequers which has a Cask Marque approved ale cellar, offering craft beers and more. They do not have a full kitchen to prepare meals but they serve a mouth-watering selection of sandwiches, jacket potatoes and salads.

For a special occasion, or for those who want something a little more fine dining, The Magic Mushroom Restaurant at Barleylands, Billericay offers lunch, dinner and afternoon tea.

The Restaurant is open for diners Wednesday to Sunday and there is a set menu of three courses for £32.50 per person from Wednesday to Friday which includes such starters as smoked pork steam bun with kimchi and sesame mayonnaise, and hot smoked salmon with celeriac remoulade, apple and pickled red onions. Mains are equally as tempting, with dishes including pan roast chicken breast with asparagus, wild mushroom ragu as well as braised pork belly with bubble and squeak and roasted carrot. If you’re still hungry after all that – or even if you’re not! – the dessert menu is hard to resist with raspberry Eton mess cheesecake, raspberry sorbet and apple and berry crumble with vanilla anglaise.

Great British Life: Lake Meadows is a lovely place to while away an afternoon Credit: Louise HowesonLake Meadows is a lovely place to while away an afternoon Credit: Louise Howeson

Things To Do

If you are looking to relax in Billericay then head to Lake Meadows where you will find a gorgeous lake to walk around, filled with ducks and geese. For the kids there’s also a well-equipped play park.

Over the years, Lake Meadows has hosted many popular events, including the Great Lake Race, where revellers raced their hand-crafted boats across the lake. There’s also a spectacular fireworks display that takes place annually.

Another wonderful place to while away a day is Norsey wood. It is divided by rides and pathways, many of which are thought to date back to the Iron Ages. The woods cover 175 acres with sweet chestnut, oak and hornbeam trees, and alder carr in the wet woodland areas.

In 1976 the site was purchased by Basildon Council which saved it from being used for housing development. The wood is helping to conserve biodiversity by providing suitable habitats for some threatened and rare species like the dormouse and pipistrelle bat.

Great British Life: Just down the road from Billericay is the pretty village of Stock Credit: Getty ImagesJust down the road from Billericay is the pretty village of Stock Credit: Getty Images

Places to Stay

Enjoy a luxurious visit to Greenwoods Hotel and Spa located a short distance away in leafy Stock. Set in beautiful English countryside, the hotel is a Grade II Listed 17th Century manor house which has been restored. Whether you go there to dine in the AA rosette awarded restaurant, relax in the spa or enjoy an overnight stay, it’s a lovely place to unwind.

For an Airbnb location just a three-minute walk from the trains station there is Norsey Cottage. The two-bedroom cottage is a restored 500-year-old, Grade II Listed building, which is fully equipped with everything you need to enjoy a unique and luxurious stay. See Airbnb for details.

For the more adventurous, Barleylands campsite is open all year round for campers. There are toilet and shower block facilities on site and a farm shop a short drive away which is open seven days per week.

Great British Life: Billericay High Street offers an array of independent boutiques Credit: Getty ImagesBillericay High Street offers an array of independent boutiques Credit: Getty Images

Where to Shop

Billericay has for a long time been blessed with independent boutiques.

N. Shelley has been around since 1924 when a young seamstress Norah Shelley started up a business offering her services to the ladies of the town, alongside the retail of haberdashery, wools and fancy drapery.

The family-run business continues to thrive and sells quality goods and offers exemplary customer service.

Lewis Yates was opened by Lewis Tweddell in 2008. They collaborate with more than 30 labels including By Malene Birger, Belstaff, Colmar, Eton, Grenson, Paul Smith, Michael Kors and Vivienne Westwood.

From lovely knits to cosy coats, Nu Rose on the high street has it all.

Then there is Anthony Formal Wear, with one of the largest ranges of grooms slim fit wedding suit hire and made-to-measure suits in the country.

For a gorgeous selection of flowers, head to Baileys Creative Floristry not far from the train station.

 



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