Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Two Towers - 13 July 2008

Naze towerOn the headland at Walton-on-Naze in Essex, is a tower built in 1720, as a navigational aid for shipping. It was recently bought a local resident and, after 284 years, first opened to the public in 2004. The climb to the top involves 111 steps, and the reward is art works displayed at each level on the way up, and a great view from the top.

From the tower, we did a 3-mile circular walk around the Naze headland. It is a beautiful remote feeling spot, with golden sand on the beaches. Beach huts below the towerThe builder of the tower was sensibly far-sighted, as, under the waves, 9 miles out to sea is the site of the original Walton township. The cliffs have eroded over the years, leaving the tower uncomfortably close to the sea.

Layer Marney TowerThe second tower of the day is also privately owned, Layer Marney Tower. This was originally intended as a rival to Hampton Court Palace, but, due to the early deaths of the first and second Lord Marneys, only part of the complex was built. The tower (this time only 101 steps) is the only part open of the main building to the public, and it gave a real sense of stepping back in time. Built in the 16th century, it is a total Tudor experience. The gardens are so tranquil, church just across the garden to one side, great hall and barn, both close to the tower. It certainly didn't feel like only 50 miles from London.

Thistle flowerBefore returning, we visited the nearby picturesque town of Coggeshall where one can find Paycockes; the preserved town house of a wealthy Tudor merchant, complete with another lovely garden. Grange BarnNearby, in this must-see town, is the Grange Barn. Built in the 12th or 13th century it is the oldest and one of the best of its type left in Europe. It is amazing to think of it as a huge storehouse of produce. As we drove home we passed an enormous supermarket chain distribution centre warehouse, presumably the modern-day equivalent.

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