Gallery: Top 10 – Essex boasts the longest coastline in the UK and some of the sunniest weather, what else is the county famed for?

Oysters at the annual Colchester Oyster Feast.

Oysters at the annual Colchester Oyster Feast. - Credit: Su Anderson

Essex is often derided by others elsewhere in the country as being full of spray-tanned buffoons. But here are our top 10 interesting facts about the county.

Both Colchester and Chelmsford have been England’s capital

Colchester was a capital of England under the early days of Roman rule, until the administrative centre was moved to London in the wake of Boudica’s (also known as Boadicea) rebellion in AD 61. Chelmsford, meanwhile, had to wait more than a thousand years for its turn, when it was made the capital for just five days in the wake of the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381.

Essex food travels the globe

Cornwall has its pasties and Yorkshire its puddings, and while Essex has not given its name to anything, it does export some world-renowned foodstuffs.


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Whether it is Tiptree jam, Maldon sea salt or Mersea oysters – or more historically saffron from Saffron Walden – food from the county certainly gets about a bit.

However none of the products have – yet – achieved protected name status from the EU.

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The coastline of Essex is the longest of any English county

Essex has a long and rich connection with the sea, a natural resource which has provided food and jobs for many over the years.

But did you know that with more than 350 miles of shore Essex actually has the longest coastline of any English county.

It’s not just the coast which is big, we also have the largest village green in the country

As well as having a long coastline, parts of the land also claim a stake in the English record books.

Great Bentley village green is claimed to be the largest in the country, at 43 acres.

However, as is often the way with such records, it is fiercely contested by other sites.

Size is not everything

Essex can do the big things well, but it does not overlook the little things in life.

Take Manningtree, for example, which is proclaimed to be the smallest town in the country.

Another record contested by others – most notably Fordwich in Kent – it does all depend on how you measure it, but the Tendring village claims to have the smallest acreage of any other area with a town council.

The sun has got its hat on in Essex

Parts of Essex are often recorded as being the driest in the country, with St Osyth given the title for several years with lows of 506mm of rainfall in one year – compared to almost nine times that amount in Snowdonia, Wales.

The oldest barn in the world is in Cressing

Everyone knows Colchester is Britain’s oldest recorded town, even if some in Ipswich are making a bid to steal the title.

But the barley barn at Cressing Temple, built in the 13th Century, is widely recognised as the oldest timber-framed barn in the world.

And it is not just barns...

Essex is also home to the oldest wooden church in the world.

St Andrew’s Church, in Greensted-juxta-Ongar, has planks dating back to 1060 with remain suggesting the presence of an even earlier chapel.

The body of Saint Edmund rested in the church on the way to its final resting place in Bury St Edmunds.

A nursery rhyme was written in Colchester

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was composed by Jane Taylor with her sister Ann in a house in West Stockwell Street in 1806, and published in their book Rhymes for the Nursery. The house is marked with a blue plaque.

The rhyme Old King Cole is also rumoured to have begun in the town, reportedly based on a medieval tale of how Colchester got its name, though the origins of this are much less clear.

The Only Way is Essex (Towie) has won a Bafta

Although blamed by many for perpetuating the Essex stereotype into the 21st Century, Towie actually bagged the YouTube Audience prize at the 2011 Bafta Television Awards after topping a public vote – Shut up!

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