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Brightlingsea is a small town at the entrance to the River Colne, between Colchester and Clacton.
It is approximately 70 miles from the centre of London. It has a population of nearly 7,000.

A quiet town with much of historical interest, it's surrounded by classic Essex mudflats and marshes, many of which are Sites of Special Scientific Interest. It's a great area for walking, bird watching and, above all, sailing!

All Saints is the Parish Church of the Town and greets you as you approach Brightlingsea. It was built c.1250 and has a particularly fine tower. Inside there is possibly a unique set of memorial tiles for those lost at sea.

Other traditions of the Town are preserved by the Cinque Port Liberty, the Colne Smack Preservation Society and the Town Museum (open Easter to Autumn) which focuses on its maritime links.

There is also the Colne Yacht Club and the Brightlingsea Sailing Club.

The Town is a thriving yachting centre, where large numbers of small boats are built and there are many related industries. The town was a busy fishing port for many years and its fishing smack crews were superb sailors  - which is why many of them crewed the big J-Class Americas Cup challengers. There's still an annual smack and barge match in the Autumn and the early-morning start off Bateman's Tower is always a great spectacle.

The Town Centre is also thriving with a good cross-section of shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes. Brightlingsea has a wide range of leisure activities from boating on the lake to sailing and swimming. The beach has a Rural Beach Award and there is a children's paddling pool near Bateman's Tower, with an open-air swimming pool close by.

Walks alongside creeks and salt marshes, the habitat of many interesting birds, can be enjoyed. The Hard is a good place to start and many people like to just sit and watch boats being launched and children 'crabbing' at high tide. The walk along the Prom, as it's known by locals, from the Sailing Club will take you past rows of beach huts to the open air swimming pool and boating lake and then on to the paddling pool and Bateman's Tower. The latter was actually built as a beach hut for the daughter of the said Mr Bateman in Victorian times. It's used for starting cruiser races by the Colne Yacht Club and, in Pyefleet week at low tide, by BSC. If you want to go further, walk past the tower along the old railway line beside the River Colne. A walk back along Promenade Way will take you past the skateboard park, the Mirror Millennium Garden (to mark the holding of the Mirror European Championships at BSC in the year 2000, with a sculpture designed by a club member) and the camp site.

There is a Touring Caravan Park and also a Leisure Village, housing caravans and cabins for seasonal usage.

Blooming Brightlingsea... Brightlingsea has won:

Anglia in Bloom

Best Small Town 1996-2002 (exempt 1999)

Premier Award Winners 1999 and 2003

(Changed criteria by the RHS then moved us from ‘Small Town’ to ‘Town’.)

Best Town 2003 and 2004

Britain in Bloom

(nominated by Anglia in Bloom to represent the region in the national competition)

Small Town Category
National Finalist 1998
3rd Place 2001
RHS Silver Gilt Medal 2002

Town Category
RHS Silver Medal 2003

2004: barred! (entered by Anglia in Bloom for 3 years in succession)

RHS National Flowerbed Competition

RHS Silver Medal 2003 and 2004

The town comes under the authority of Tendring District Council .

Visited by many tourists, Brightlingsea is a quiet place, without the arcades and noisy distractions of the big resorts.

All in all, a very pleasant and friendly place to visit.

Brightlingsea came into the national spotlight in the 1990's with protests against live animal exports and there is still an active group within the town.

The Cinque Port Liberty

Prior to the Norman Conquest, King Edward the Confessor had contracted the five most important Channel ports of that day to provide ships and men "for the service of the monarch" and although this was frequently as a "cross-Channel ferry service", it was not exclusively so. Under the Norman kings this became the essential means of keeping the two halves of their realm together, but after the loss of Normandy in 1205, their ships (the for-runners of the Royal Navy) suddenly became Englandís first line of defence against the French.

Today the Cinque Ports have only a ceremonial role, but a base for the Lord Warden of the Ports is still provided at Walmer Castle and new Lords Warden are always installed at Dover.

Every member of the Confederation, together with their Limbs, is situated in Kent or Sussex, apart from Brightlingsea which, as a Limb of Sandwich, uniquely lies in Essex.

The Cinque Ports

Picture tour of Brightlingsea

Brightlingsea One Design

Recommended attractions near Brightlingsea

Recommended towns near Brightlingsea

Colne Yacht Club

Brightlingsea Sailing Club

Colne Yacht Club Cruiser Race Courses

Brightlingsea - 5 day weather forecast

Brightlingsea Town Guide

Martha & The Maffins - Echo Beach


last updated: 06 July 2007
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