Stately Homes and Gardens to Visit in Essex for all the Family
Essex is scattered with countless stately homes and country manors, once occupied by aristocrats and pioneers of their time. These charming and sometimes rustic buildings - frequently accompanied by lavish gardens - are now the perfect place for a family day out.
Whether it’s the summer holiday, half term or the weekend – there are plenty of activities for the whole family. From soft play areas for the kids and never ending fields for children to run wild, to adult attractions and educational activities for those keen to learn.
Here is a selection of the best stately homes in Essex for the perfect family day out, all within driving distance of our featured residential park, Sandy Bay.
Hylands Estate, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 8WQ
01245 606606 | Visit website
With 574 acres of endless parkland and a Grade II listed stately home - Hylands Estate is the perfect place for a family day out. The elegant home boasts beautifully restored rooms from both the Victorian and Georgian eras; perfect if you're an avid lover of ageless architecture. Take a stroll through the stunning, wheelchair friendly Victorian gardens or ancient woodlands. Tickets are free for those under the age of 16.
Let the adventurous kids explore and have fun at the award-winning adventure playground. It’s castle themed, with four metre high castle battlements and a drawbridge entrance. Whilst the children play, parents can relax at Mauro’s Kiosk, a gorgeous wooden outdoor café, for a selection of sandwiches, cakes and drinks. Kids will also love the horse-drawn carriage rides at Hylands Estate.
Visit the Hylands Artist Studios where you’ll find in-house artists and designers who exhibit and sell bespoke paintings, glass art and fashion. Take a comfy seat in the Stables Cafe, browse the Book Shop or pop to the Gift Shop. Hylands House and Estate is a short 30 minute drive from Sandy Bay Residential Park.
Layer Marney Tower
Layer Marney, Nr. Colchester, Essex, C05 9US
01206 330784 | Visit website
Layer Marney Tower stands as the tallest Tudor Gatehouse in England and was once home to a powerful friend of King Henry VIII. Take a walk around the 16th century lavish home to view ornate terracotta decorations, patterned brickwork and elaborate glasswork. The Tower has 99 steps to the top - a real ‘must see’ when visiting the estate.
Why not book a popular group tour of the tower and grounds? Or simply turn up and take a walk around the beautiful gardens, where you’ll find quaint picnic areas, unusual trees and a great outdoor play area for the children. Take a circular walk throughout the grounds taking you past pygmy goats, Castlemilk Moorit sheep and horses.
You won’t regret stopping by The Tea Room - the perfect place for a refreshing beverage, a light lunch and a delicious slice of cake. Before you leave, take a look around the gift shop for some one-of-a-kind souvenirs, toys and postcards. Our featured park is less than an hour’s commute south of Layer Marney Tower.
Audley End House & Gardens
Audley End Road, Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4JF
01799 522842 | Visit website
Open all year round, Audley End House & Gardens make for the ideal historic day out for the family. Once widely known as the largest and most luxurious home in the Jacobean era, visitors adored and still love walking around its opulent halls, libraries and 18th century gothic influenced chapel.
Take a bite to eat at the large Servants Hall Tea Room, serving locally-sourced food and drink from soup to sandwiches. Don’t stop there - discover what Victorian worker life was like at the stables where kids can play ‘dress up’ or visit the 1880’s service wing and coal gallery. Take a relaxing walk around the Gardens, the gold winner of Anglia in Bloom Awards 2017, designed by two of the most influential designers of the 18th century.
For those enthusiastic children, pop to the children’s play area that’s inspired by the stately home. Kids can climb up a wooden mansion and ride wooden horses. Right next to the play area you’ll find another charming place to eat, the Cart Yard Cafe. Audley End House & Gardens is just over an hour away from Sandy Bay Residential Park.
Valentines Mansion & Gardens
Emerson Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 4XA
02087 088100 | Visit website
Another fantastic artsy and historic venue, the Valentines Mansion & Gardens is a picture-perfect place for a day out in Essex, and it’s free to visit. The lavish Grade II home was built back in 1969 - admire its fine staircase and beautiful Venetian windows.
Take part in one of the mansions raved-about creative workshops and learn a new skill, creating lavender bags, flower arranging or painting. There are also lots of fun events for children throughout the year, from Halloween spooky arts and crafts to nature trails. The top floor of Valentine’s has been converted into an in-house studio - don’t hesitate to meet and greet the artists and view their unique work.
Who doesn’t love a perfectly landscaped rose garden? Valentines Mansion is host to one of the best in the area. You’ll also find a Long Water canal, rococo grottoes and dovecote. Take the kids to Animal Corner & Aviary where they can get up close and personal with a variety of birds, chipmunks and Tinkerbell the Tortoise. Before leaving take a quick detour to Gardener’s Cottage Cafe. Our featured park is less than an hour away from Valentines by car.
Kentwell Hall & Gardens
Hungry Hall Lane, Long Melford, Suffolk, C010 9BA
01787 310207 | Visit website
Explore the picturesque Kentwell Hall & Gardens, full of great surprises for all the family. Make your way through the spectacular home, where you’ll spot countless indicators of the buildings Tudor origins. Marvel at fantastic stained glass windows, unique handmade interiors and gothic designs.
Take a historic walk through the gardens, where ancestors have walked since the 15th century and view the spectacular large moat. Stumble upon the famous two-dimensional brick-paved maze, a huge sculptured cedar tree and Baron Munchausen's Galleon. Kentwell Hall boasts its very own Rare Breed Farm, showcasing Norfolk Horn Sheep, Norfolk Horn Tamworth Pigs and Poitou Donkey “giant dreadlock donkey”.
There’s a fine range of homemade cakes, tarts and pastries available at the Tearoom & Stableyard Cafe. Stop by for afternoon tea or order from the seasonal menu that incorporates fresh produce from the garden and farm. Kentwell Hall & Gardens is just over an hour north of Sandy Bay, our featured residential park.
Eastbury Manor House
Eastbury Square, Barking, Essex, IG11 9SN
02082 272942 | Visit website
The Grade I listed building and grounds is an unexpected gem, nestled in bustling Barking, a place where all the family can learn about Elizabethan living and enjoy an unforgettable day out. Climb the gorgeous spiral oak staircase to enjoy a spectacular view from the mansion’s turret or try on some costumes from the era.
Buzzing kids can enjoy a varied programme of workshops and events on offer, including a monthly themed Family Funday. See the great interactive exhibits and unique stalls where you can learn about ancient crafts, how to whittle wood and spin wool.
The unspoilt brick Tudor manor house and gardens make for an ideal place to relax and unwind. Admire the walled garden in all its original glory, together with bee boles that have been actively used by families living at Eastbury over the centuries, for its delicious honey. Afterwards, enjoy a cup of cream tea and homemade scone or two at Eastbury Kitchen and take a pleasant stroll around the immaculate gardens that adorn the manor. The manor is 27 miles from our featured residential park.
Hall Lane, Ingatestone, Essex, CM4 9NR
01277 353010 | Visit website
On specified days throughout the summer, visitors can explore the glorious stately home that is Ingatestone Hall. The hall remains a private family residence and no doubt because of this, numerous visitors throughout the years have commented on its friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
Its original Tudor form and architecture from 950 AD still remains - stare in awe at picturesque high chimneys, mullioned windows, oak panelled rooms and crow-step gables. Why not take a grand tour? Stepping back into the 16th century, when VIII reigned over England.
Even though the manor house is more suited for older children and adults in the family, that doesn’t mean younger children won’t enjoy a visit to Ingatestone Hall - especially those interested in history. Why not take a walk around the quaint but beautiful gardens and tree lined lake, where you can go dragonfly spotting. Finish off at the Summer Parlour Cafe for homemade cakes and mini savoury tarts. Ingatestone Hall is a short 40 minute drive from Sandy Bay Residential Park.
Ideally Located Residential Park
If you’re looking for a great place to settle down in retirement or a summer rental investment, start by looking at Sandy Bay Residential Park and our article on reasons to buy a park home on Canvey Island. With a wide variety of park home designs for you to pick from, we’re sure you’ll find one that suits your taste. Just a short walk away from the beach, cafes and within driving distance of some great days out with the family.
Essex is scattered with countless stately homes and country manors, once occupied by aristocrats and pioneers of their time. Here is a selection of the best stately homes in Essex for the perfect family day out.