Last weekend, Dimas and I decided to have a day out somewhere exploring. For January, the weather seemed pleasant enough to risk going out – unlike today which is rainy, blustery and basically a duvet day.
We live in Essex and decided to go somewhere that’s not too far out of the way but enough that it would make a decent days worth of adventure. Last time we went for a drive we headed to Suffolk, so this time we decided to go just to the border of Essex and Suffolk. After a little online search, we decided on Manningtree.
Manningtree is a quaint little coastal town that claims to be the smallest town in Britain, and after wandering around we’d be inclined to agree! The town also has a history related to Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General who accused local women of engaging in witchcraft. They were then hanged on the green close to the high street.
The high street was super small, one short street with mostly independent shops and a couple of chain stores (like a Tesco Local). We first took a walk along the river wall looking out over the boats moored in the River Stour. It was freezing so we weren’t brave enough to carry on our walk up to the next town of Mistley unfortunately, so we turned up along the high street to wander the streets and look at some of the lovely houses.
I have to say, I absolutely fell in love with this tiny town. The houses were a wonderful mixture of old cottages and more stately looking homes as well as some more modern builds. We found a curious little shop that sold wines and vinyl records, then came across the Red Lion pub which I was fascinated to see had been running since 1605!
After checking out some more homes, we decided to stop in the Red Lion to warm up with a drink by the fireplace. It had a lovely and relaxed atmosphere, and we were surprised to see a sign that explained their unusual food arrangements. The pub allows patrons to bring their own food to eat on the premises and they supply the cutlery free of charge! Of course, we hadn’t come prepared for this so we had our drink and before leaving the very friendly lady who worked there brought out some board games, explaining that they have board games out every third Sunday of the month – that was pretty cool!
Now warmed up, we walked through some nearby streets and were thrilled to come across what seemed to be the old heart of the town going by the remaining signs of traditional artisanal workshops. Passing the town greengrocers and bakery, we found a small wooden door with ‘The Old Candle Factory” inscribed in the beam above. Further down this same tiny street we also found the carpenters workshop and a house that once was the town slaughterhouse.
All the exploring out in the cold made us hungry, and being Sunday we thought why not go for a roast in one of the other pubs but on the high street this time – and it did not disappoint! We had a delicious meal (and very reasonable) in The Crown with some beautiful views over the Stour. It was so huge we were absolutely stuffed by the end!
After we’d had our fill we decided to head home as it was beginning to get dark. We absolutely loved our little day out in Manningtree and would definitely love to go back again, possibly in Spring or Summer and take that walk along the river. Or even go on a Saturday to see the weekly market, and it is definitely somewhere that we would recommend anyone to visit for chilled weekend day out.