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Brightlingsea Attractions

Brightlingsea is a small historical sailing town with much to offer the day visitor or as a base to explore the surrounding towns and countryside. Since 1360 Brightlingsea has been a member of the Cinque Ports-the only ‘limb’ outside of Kent and Sussex. This unique heritage still remains with the town and to this day the town elects a Deputy of the Cinque Port every year.

Today Brightlingsea is a thriving town with many interesting old buildings including the 13th century Jacobes Hall, 16th century Kings Head and 18th century Ye Olde Swan set amongst a town centre of friendly mainly independent shops. The narrow streets lead down to the Town Hard where you can spend some leisurely time to watch the comings and goings, see families enjoying crabbing from the town jetty or disembarking from the ferry or visiting yachts.

From the Town Hard you can take a leisurely stroll along the promenade lined with colourful beach huts, past the open air swimming pool to Batemans Tower where you will find a café, children’s playground and skateboard park.  Past the café is the start of a popular walk along the route of the old railway track to Thorrington Creek where is situated the Thorrington Tide mill the only remaining tide mill in Essex. This is just one of several pleasant walks around the town.



Brightlingsea town centre consists of Victoria Place and the High Street with over 50 mainly independent shops and places to eat. Here you can meet the friendly shopkeepers and enjoy a casual time exploring the lovely town centre with its floral displays providing a pleasant backdrop, having lunch or a cup of coffee or tea at your leisure.

The popularity of the town is measured by the fact that over the years the Business Association has managed full shop occupancy by promoting the town and encouraging local villages and visitors to the  area to visit the town and take advantage of the variety of facilities available, the ferry has helped  provide additional footfall thus helping maintain a sustainable economy.

From the town centre you can take several  of the narrow streets that lead down to the Town Hard to enjoy the other part of the town by the waterside and if inclined take a trip on the ferry to see the town from the water making the most of your visit to Brightlingsea.


Brightlingsea Museum houses a permanent exhibition on the Cinque Port, together with displays about the town’s maritime heritage, the former railway to Colchester and a host of other memorabilia as well as ever changing featured exhibitions throughout the season.


Situated at the end of the promenade at Westmarsh Point this unique (slightly leaning) tower a folly built in 1883 by John Bateman for his daughter to recuperate from consumption , as well as a landmark today it is used by the local yacht club to administer races.


All Saint Church stands at the northern edge of town as you enter by the single road into the town, parts of the church date back to the 13th century with newer additions made in the 15th century around 1490. A feature of the church are the band of 211 memorial tiles dating from 1872-1973 each remembering a Brightlingsea person who has died at sea. The church is a grade 1 listed building.


The Lozenge is a Nature Area created from a derelict piece of land adjacent to the Community Centre. This project was made possible with the help of funding obtained by the local Community Reach Partnership. The area was cleared leaving as much of the natural habitat as possible in place, footpaths were established, a pond was constructed and benches and signage provided. This then transformed a piece of wasteland into an asset to the town providing a tranquil place to wander or sit and enjoy the wildlife that has established itself naturally in this lovely area provided.


Brightlingsea Foot Ferry has two ferry boats each able to accommodate twelve passengers as well as bikes and dogs. This facility was again originally funded by grants obtained by the Community Reach partnership and was adopted by the Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners who have operated the ferry for the past 13 years. This provided easy access to the area whilst reducing road miles considerably, by road from Brightlingsea to Point Clear is 11miles and to East Mersea 21 miles whilst the ferry takes approx. 3 minutes to Point Clear and 9 minutes to East Mersea.

Ferry Route 1 is between Brightlingsea , Point Clear and East Mersea , operates  Good Friday until the end October.

Ferry Route 2 is between Brightlingsea, Wivenhoe, Rowhedge and Colchester Hythe, operates Good Friday until the end of October. Contact: Brightlingsea Harbour office 01206 302200 for timetable visit .


Brightlingsea Hard with the Town Jetty and Marina  is especially in the Summer a hive of activity where you can sit and relax and enjoy watching the families crabbing from the jetty and the coming and goings from the water with passengers from the ferry arriving and departing after enjoying a trip on the water. From the Hard you can take a leisurely stroll along the promenade which is lined with colourful beach huts, past the boating lake and open air swimming pool to Bateman’s tower with its café, children’s playground and skate park.  Those feeling more energetic can then join the nature walk along the site of the old railway track through beautiful SSSI saltmarshes  to Alresford Creek, this walk is around 4 miles in length but can be reduced to accommodate walkers personal abilities. Walk leaflets are available from the Parish Hall or Harbour office.

When you have explored the waterside area to your hearts content why not take time to visit our historical town centre with its variety of shops and eating places set amongst several period buildings. From the Town Hard you can take any of several narrow streets that lead to the town centre and from the promenade you can go straight up Station Road which is adjacent to The Railway Tavern into the centre of town.


These gardens are situated at the junction of Spring Chase and Lower Park Road and are set out around a natural spring that runs through the grounds and surrounding area. These gardens are part of a bequest given to the town and were established originally mainly using grants obtained by the Community Reach Partnership and are now administered by the Brightlingsea in Bloom organisation which also provide floral displays around the town.


Jacobs Hall stands in the High Street and is over 600 years old, it is a fine example of a timber framed building and is grade 1 listed. The full history can be found in the history section of this website as to explain its varied history in a short paragraph would not do it justice.


St James’ Church stands in the centre of the town in Victoria Place and was built in 1836. With a tall steeple housing a Victorian Jubilee Town Clock it provides a fine centre piece for the town. Originally built to accommodate  parishioners  who attended  All Saints but who later settled in the growing waterside area which developed as the town grew. St James’ is a grade 2 listed building.