My Village


Tollesbury, hidden in the heart of Essex I thought that I would write a little more about my village where I have lived since 1993 in sunny Essex, Great Britain. Hopefully it will give you a small insight into my world, and for people living abroad a view of quaint village life! Tollesbury, located on the Essex coast at the mouth of the River Blackwater, is situated 9 miles east of the historic port of Maldon and 12 miles south of Colchester, Britain's oldest recorded town. The village is situated on a small peninsula, to the north are Old Hall marshes and Tollesbury fleet, to the south the River Blackwater. Because of it's geographical location Tollesbury has, for centuries, relied on the harvests from both the land and the sea and the village has become known as 'The Village of the Plough and Sail'.

The Village

Tollesbury sign As you come into the village, you will see the village sign. For centuries Tollesbury, the village of the plough and sail, relied on the harvests of the land and the sea. The Village Sign has been decorated on both sides, the 'Plough' side shows a ploughman and his team of horses working the land, agriculture goes on down to the waters edge. Pictured on the right of the sign are fishing smacks on the River Blackwater. The village church can be seen on the top left side of the sign. A mallard and a hare are pictured on the supports. The 'Sail' side of the sign shows the weather boarded Sail lofts. The centre of the sign shows the yacht 'Endeavour II' which was the 1937 British challenger for the America's Cup, on the left is depicted the fishing smack 'Sallie'.

My local watering hole, The King's Head At one time Tollesbury was served by six public houses, the village now has two: The Hope and The Kings Head. Built in 1923 the Hope Inn stands in the High Street and across the road stands the Kings Head. The Kings Head, situated in The Square, was traditionally the seafarers public house. It was here that the Tollesbury Yacht Skippers Club was formed when the village was gaining a reputation as a yachting centre during the early part of the 20th century. Alterations were made to the pub in 1902 during which parts of a copy of the Great Bible of 1540 were found in the attic.

Saint Mary's church, TollesburyThe parish church of Tollesbury, dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin, stands at the highest point in the village. It is generally assumed that the church was built just after the Norman Conquest, around 1090, rather than in Saxon times. It is possible that the materials used in the present building are taken from an earlier Saxon church. Tucked away in the south east corner of The Square, by the church wall stands the village Lock-up or Cage. This wooden building would have been where drunks were held until they sobered up. With the village having six public houses at one stage, the Lock-up probably saw quite a bit of business itself!
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Blackwater Estuary

view of the lightship The Essex freshwater grazing marsh, has been worked for decades by traditional methods sympathetic to wildlife and is now owned by Essex Wildlife Trust. Wildlife is abundant in the 600 acres of rough pasture, borrowdykes, sea walls, wet flushes, pools and saltmarsh. Large areas of rough pasture suit small mammals such as field vole and pygmy shrew. In winter, they in turn attract hunting hen harriers and short-eared owls.
Dry grassland on the slopes of the sea walls supports a wide variety of insects, including butterflies, bush crickets and grasshoppers. In spring spiny restharrow, grass vetchling, and many other wild flowers can be found in ungrazed areas.Tollesbury marsh Borrowdykes trace the inland edge of the sinuous seawall for its entire length. Common reed, sea clubrush and fennel pondweed are typical plants of these brackish areas where reed warbler and reed bunting nest in spring, and heron and little grebe search for food. Wet flushes, dykes and small pools in the pasture support aquatic plants such as water crowfoot, and breeding populations of dragonflies and other aquatic species. Golden plover, lapwing, brent geese and wigeon feed or roost on the winter-wet grassland. On the other side of the seawall, and within the reserve boundary, creeks, salt marsh and exposed mud support typical communities of coastal mud-dwelling invertebrates, coastal birds and salt marsh flora. Scattered shingle spits have yellow-horned poppy, and also a breeding colony of little terns.

The Marina

the cruiser!One of my favourite parts of the village is Tollesbury Marina and Woodrolfe Boatyard. I used to work as a barmaid in the Crusing Club, fun was always had! I loved to while away summer evenings staring out of the window at the boats, listening to the sound of spinnakers gently ringing in the breeze. I often had the pleasure of meeting travellers from Holland, Belgium and as far away as Australia. The club also has a heated covered swimming pool,marina two tennis courts, and an inviting restaurant with excellent home cooking. (a small plug!) The marina is ideally located for exploring the rivers and creeks of the East Coast with the rivers Crouch and Thames to the South, West Mersea and rivers Colne, Orwell and Deben to the North. For those wishing to cruise further afield the marina offers the perfect gateway to the cruising grounds of Holland, Belgium and France. Tollesbury Marina is a tidal harbour with access for about 2 hours either side of high water depending on tide, weather conditions and draft of your boat. Boat owners can take advantage of a free towing service to and from our deep water moorings in Tollesbury Fleet.

a bird's eye view of the marina Well that's about it! Apart from a Post Office, general store, butchers and hairdressers. It's a small village but I can quite honestly say that after visiting for a long weekend back in 1993, whilst living the rat race of life in London, meeting the locals in this friendly and welcoming place certainly warmed the heart! - and I'm still here!!
reference: Essex Wildlife :: Tollesbury Marina