Everything you need to know about TV chef Jamie Oliver’s move to Essex

Spains Hall, Tudor splendour

Spains Hall, Tudor splendour - Credit: Archant

The Naked chef Jamie Oliver has just bought one of the most historically important properties in north west Essex and is now set to move into Spains Hall with his family.

It seems 2019 is a homecoming year for chef and TV star Jamie Oliver. The 43-year-old is making a move back to Essex having just bought Spains Hall in the village of Finchingfield, just 17.5 miles from his parents’ pub, The Cricketers in Clavering.

Jamie, who spent a reported £13m of his own money rescuing his Jamie’s Italian chain in 2017 (the Norwich branch has just closed) spent £6m on the grand farm house, where he’ll live with wife of 17 years Jools, and children Poppy Honey (16), Daisy Boo (15), Petal Blossom (9), Buddy Bear (8) and River Rocket (2).

A popular wedding venue, Spains Hall hasn’t been sold for 250 years and has only been owned by three families since 1066. It was originally listed for £8m – so it appears the family have nabbed themselves a bargain!

With sweeping grounds and an impressive Elizabethan frontage, Spains Hall is a tranquil and beautiful property with extensive grounds.

Jamie Oliver Picture: David Loftus

Jamie Oliver Picture: David Loftus - Credit: Archant

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What we want to know is will Jamie and pal Gennaro Contaldo be inspired to cook together in the kitchen gardens on our telly anytime soon?

And will Jamie take up shooting on the estate – known for its prime venison?

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What can Jamie and his family do in the area?

According to Tripadvisor the top things to see and do in and around Finchingfield are:

1. Visit Braintree and Bocking Public Gardens

2. Bridge Edge Garden

3. Braintree District Museum

4. Audley End House

5. Fenne Fisheries

6. Chelmsford City Racecourse

7. Freeport Braintree

8. Thaxted

9. Boydells Dairy Farm

They’ll have to head over to Wherstead near Ipswich too to visit Jamie’s pal Jimmy’s farm!

Where is Finchingfield and what’s there?

Finchingfield is 10 miles from Braintree, just over 11 miles from Halstead and 15.5 miles from Sudbury.

The village really is picture postcard perfect and has apparently been used to illustrate biscuit tins and the like. Often called one of the ‘most photographed villages’ in the country, Finchingfield was immortalised in oils by painter Lucien Pissarro.

From a quaint green, complete with duck pond and bridge, flanked by delicately pastel-shaded cottages, it’s not hard to see what made the Olivers fall in love with the village.

Dodie Smith (writer of 101 Dalmations) also had a home in Finchingfield, where there are 11 miles of footpaths to explore and nine miles of bridleway in case the family fancy taking a trot out.

Village amenities are sparse but impressive for such a small place – including antiques and gift shops, a garage, post office and stores.

If they’re on a health kick Notley Sports Centre and Braintree Sport and Health Club are a short drive away.

Where can Jamie Oliver and his family eat?

They may, of course, choose to lord it up in the manor at their own dining table, or pop for a pub lunch over at his parents’ place, but there are lots of options nearby for the Olivers to try out.

Will the pizza and pasta dishes at Zafra Pasta Bar and Grill hit the spot for the Italy-loving chef, who carved out his career at the iconic River Café in London?

Classics like The Fox Burger and honey roast ham with a brace of hens’ eggs with triple cooked chips grace the menu at 16th century The Fox Inn, overlooking the village green.

The family can enjoy “the best fruit scone ever” at The Picture Pot Tea Shop, or head for tea and cake at The Greedy Duck or Bosworth’s Tearooms.

And their local watering holes include The Three Tuns and The Finchingfield Lion.

Where can they do their weekly shop?

Assuming they don’t get an Ocado delivery in, of course, Jamie and Jools will find a Co-op in Great Bardfield, just up the road, and a farm shop, The Blue Egg, just a couple of miles away too.

Where will Jools top up her wardrobe?

At Freeport Braintree of course! After splashing out on their massive pad the family must be feeling the pinch (don’t we all) so this outlet centre is the ideal place for them to snap up a few bargains. Wax jackets from Barbour. Jack Wills. Hollister. Polo by Ralph Lauren. And after they’ve shopped until they’ve dropped they can grab a cheeky Burger King.

Fancy running your own Essex pub Jamie?

Just six miles away in Steeple Bumpstead (amazing village name) the Fox & Hounds is currently up for sale for £420,000. Come on Jamie – you know you want to follow in your folks’ footsteps.

Did you get married at Spains Hall or have memories of the building? Share your memories here

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