Our unique location on the River Crouch offers a fascinating glimpse into the past, from ancient castle to medieval ruins. Because of our easterly spot, proximity to the River Thames and the topography of the land, this region has drawn the attention of many a royal and witnessed many significant historical events over the years.

Visitors to our neighbouring Ferry Boat Inn recently took to Trip Advisor to report it an ideal location for visiting parts of Essex previously undiscovered, particularly those of historical note. Therefore, for the delight of visitors and berth holders to Fambridge Yacht Haven, we’ve compiled our top 10 historical sites to visit in and around the River Crouch, including distance from the marina (either a walk, bike or car ride away) for those of you looking for local points of interest while you’re staying on your boat.

Kicking off with our very own Ferry Boat Inn dating back to 1591...

Old Pub Bar Ferry Boat Inn

1. The Ferry Boat Inn, North Fambridge, Essex

Distance from Fambridge Yacht Haven: less than a mile! See map

A hop, skip and a jump from Fambridge Yacht Haven is the sympathetically renovated and extended Ferry Boat Inn. A Grade II listed building, first documented as an Inn in 1591 and the site of many a colourful character. We’ve captured it’s rich and colourful history here. Tales of witchery, theft, romance, transportation and drunk driving horse and cart. The Ferry Boat Inn offers a wide and varied menu with lots of tasty local produce, gorgeous B&B lodgings, a beautifully situated and stylishly refurbished retreat for locals and travellers arriving by foot, car, bike, and yacht.

English Garden

2. RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Chelmsford

Distance from Fambridge Yacht Haven: 7.4miles See map

Reputed to be one of the finest gardens in the East of England, the RHS Garden Hyde Hall offers an eclectic mix of garden styles, landscaping and planting inspiration. Originally set up by The Hyde Hall Gardens Trust in 1976, the gardens were taken over by the Royal Horticultural Society in 1993 and they’ve grown in colour, diversity and stature ever since.

There’s plenty to explore; from the Dry Garden with its mix of drought-resistant plants to the Australia and New Zealand gardens and The Global Growth Vegetable Garden. Trigger your senses, with the abundant colour and shaping, the buzz of visiting insects, the scent of the seasonal roses and a moment of quiet under The Oak by Big Sky Meadow. Heads up; no dogs allowed.

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3. Hadleigh Castle, Benfleet

Distance from Fambridge Yacht Haven: 15miles See map

Perched on a hill overlooking the River Thames and dubbed “the romantic ruins of a royal castle” Hadleigh Castle boasts breath-taking views and an impressive royal history. Built in the 13th century by King Edward III, the castle was primarily used as a royal residence and later for defending the Thames estuary against French incursions during the 100 Year’s War. Owned by English Heritage today, you can explore one of the remaining towers, it’s outer footprint and tidal water mill. Dogs on leads welcome.

Although now in ruins, its tower offers a glimpse into the past, with clues to medieval life visible in the tower walls.  The 19th century painter John Constable visited the castle in 1814, when he made drawings and an oil painting in 1829.

Wat Tyler Country Parker

4. Wat Tyler Country Park, Basildon

Distance from Fambridge Yacht Haven: 15miles See map

Steeped in history, the Wat Tyler Country Park is a sprawling area of meadows, creeks, marshes, sea wall, WWII pill boxes and blast mounds. Named after a 14th century Peasants' Revolt leader, this nature reserve is layered in historical importance; from the salt marshes where locals lived and farmed for salt production – dating back to the Bronze age – to Roman and Norman settlements, oyster pits, a 19th century explosives factory (chosen for its topography, creek-side location and distance from populated towns) and served as an important coastal defence. While you’re discovering the country park’s 125 acres, enjoy picturesque walks, a bit of wildlife spotting, adventure play for the kids and breathe in the beauty of the Essex coast.

St Peter On The Wall Chapel Bradwell

5. St. Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea

Distance from Fambridge Yacht Haven: 15miles See map

Dating back to the 7th century (654AD), St. Peter-on-the-Wall is reputed to be the oldest -largely intact - church in England. With its remote east coast location and simple yet striking architecture, it’s a place of great spirituality. Regularly used by the nearby community, people visit from all over the world to experience its uniquely tranquil setting. Situated at one end of the long distant walk St Peters Way, the church sits right on the coast with stunning views.

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6. Battlesbridge Tide Mills, Wickford

Distance from Fambridge Yacht Haven: 8miles See map

Battlesbridge Mill dates from the 18th century, a former flour mill and today an imposing antiques and craft centre - a veritable treasure trove of collectibles and one-offs (depending on the day!)  Situated alongside the River Crouch, its current iron bridge was originally built of timber and reputed to have stood since c.1351, replaced in 1769 and then by an iron structure in 1856, struck by a steam engine and replaced in 1872.  For a day that captures a bit of history in a beautiful setting, enjoy rifling through the antiques, a coffee in the lovely rooftop café and the glorious views of the River Crouch.

Burnham Museum

7. Burnham Museum, Burnham-on-Crouch

Distance from Fambridge Yacht Haven: 8miles See map

If maritime history floats your boat (pardon the pun!), make time to explore the Burnham Museum on the Northern side of the River Crouch. The area was once a leading oyster fishery and benefited from the introduction of the railway in 1887 which brought new visitors, better prospects, improved trade and exciting new leisure pursuits; namely yachting! While the railway lifted long-held limitations for commercial and agricultural industries, locals soon adapted to the newly thriving yachting fraternity and the River Crouch became a hotbed for yachting. Our thriving Fambridge Yacht Haven marina community is testament to that today! Burnham Museum is located in a former boat-builder’s premises - said to have been built in around 1910 - and is home to a varied collection of records and artefacts; cataloguing a history of boat building, fishing, farming and local agriculture.

Mangapps Railway

8. Mangapps Railway & Museum, Burnham-on-Crouch

Distance from Fambridge Yacht Haven: 8miles See map

If trains are your thing, Mangapps is a must. Since it’s a privately run working railway and museum, it’s not open all year round, so do check the website before you set off to make sure it’s open.

You’ll find railways, trains and one of the largest collections of railway relics in Britain. You can explore a ¾ mile standard gauge passenger carrying line, with restored stations and ancillary equipment and a huge selection of historic railway artefacts from almost every aspect of railway operation, in particular the East Anglia railways.  Their signalling collection is reported to be the largest public exhibit in Britain.

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9. Tilbury Fort, Tilbury

Distance from Fambridge Yacht Haven: 28miles or 40nm by boat See map

This fascinating riverside fort was built to protect London in the 16th century and was relied upon to fortify England’s capital right up to the Second World War. It’s an impressive outer structure, reported to be the best of its type in England. Look out across the Thames towards Gravesend and imagine yourself a soldier who lived here in centuries gone by, patrolling the battlements, readying the canons and checking the magazine houses had ample store of gunpowder. Henry VIII built the first fort, and Queen Elizabeth I rallied her troops in nearby Tilbury when faced with attack from the mighty Spanish Armada in 1588. Her speech is still thought to be one of the most inspiring speeches in English history.

Rochford Hall 16Th Century

10. Rochford Hall, Esssex

Distance from Fambridge Yacht Haven: 16miles See map

This tudor building is currently owned by a private golf club and not open to the public, but it’s worth knowing that Rochford Hall was once owned by the Boleyn family. Recognise the name?  In the early 1500’s this was the home of King Henry VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn, reportedly where he first laid eyes on her and the venue for many a secret meeting. He supposedly used a secret tunnel for discreet getaways!

Thanks to Vicks Ward for the research.

As you can see the River Crouch offers a fascinating journey into the past. From castles and churches to mills and museums, each with its own unique story but all contributing to the fabric of this special slice of Essex.

Fambridge Yacht Haven is the perfect base from which to explore, with helpful staff on-site 7 days a week, full washroom and laundry facilities, water, electric and WI-FI, on-water fuel station and plenty of berthing options.  All you have to do now is set a date, pack your bags, hoist the mainsail (or start the motor!) and let the River Crouch guide you through centuries of captivating history.

For the benefit of future Fambridge visitors, do tell us if you know of other historical sites we can add to the list.

Visit Fambridge Yacht Haven

Fambridge Aerial Showing Stow Creek

Facilities at North Fambridge

Maldon River Blackaterwater Adobestock 272293753

Where to visit by boat around the River Crouch

Fambridge River Crouch Yacht Racing

Learn how to get on the water and go boating in Essex

Map of historical sites

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