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essex

Castles/Houses, Days Out, Home, Outdoors, Unusual

Rayleigh Windmill – A Review

Rayleigh windmill

Rayleigh Windmill

I previously listed Rayleigh Windmill in my top local free/cheap days out in Essex. You can see that list here.

Rayleigh Windmill is situated next to Rayleigh Mount and is a great place to visit with or without kids. There is a car park right outside and it is free to park on Sundays. You can also hire the Windmill for Weddings and other celebrations.

The Mill

Rayleigh Windmill is a 200 year old Grade II listed building where you can learn how the Windmill worked, try the quiz in the museum, and dress up in traditional costumes. An interesting and unusual day out for the kids.

We popped along one Sunday to have a look around. We found the volunteers that run the Windmill were very friendly and knowledgeable. They were happy to answer any questions we had and told us some of the history of the Windmill and The Mount, where Rayleigh Castle once stood.

Rayleigh windmill on the stairs
Rayleigh windmill climbing the windmill

 

Ground Floor and First Floors

On the ground floor was information about the Windmill and some children’s arts and crafts. We climbed up the narrow stairs to the first floor where we found a small museum. It housed lots of interesting historic pieces and there is a quiz that you can take part in. It was simply finding items on a list so even our 5 year old could manage it with a little help. Eden was fascinated to learn about the gas masks for used during the war and in particular one used for babies.

 

Rayleigh windmill pieces of history in the museum

Rayleigh windmill quiz

Rayleigh windmill adult gas mask

 

Second Floor

On the 2nd floor they regularly hold exhibitions and on this occasion there was an artist displaying her paintings for sale. Eden was also able to paint a picture which she was very happy about. She loves to draw and paint. Whilst we let her painting dry we climbed up to the top floor.

 

Rayleigh windmill painting exhibition

Rayleigh windmill Eden painting

 

Top Floor

The stairs do get much narrower and steeper as you climb, so bear this in mind before visiting. Eden managed the steps absolutely fine though. On the top floor was an amazing model of The Mount and how the castle would of once looked. We spent some time hunting for a tiny little brown rabbit. See if you can spot him! There is also some dressing up available and a large board with characters from the castle. Eden happily played with that whilst we had a look at the views from the top of the Windmill. They have some pocket money toys for sale on the top floor.

After climbing to the top of the Windmill, children are awarded with their very own certificate!

 

Rayleigh windmill Castle model

Rayleigh windmill on the top floor, castle display board
Rayleigh windmill Eden outside the windmill

Visit the Windmill

Entry is free for Rayleigh Windmill but a donation of £1 per person is suggested.

Opening times:

Wednesday 10:00am – 1:00pm

Saturday 1:00 – 4:00pm

Sunday 1:00 – 4:00pm

Please check their website before visiting for a full list of closures due to private functions.

There are no toilets at the mill but you can use the facilities in The Mill Arts Centre next door.

Parking is at Mill Hall Car Park which is a paid for car park but free after 1pm on Saturday and free all day Sunday.

For more information please visit their website.

After looking around Rayleigh Windmill we took a short walk around Rayleigh Mount. Climbing to the top of the steps to reach the top where the Castle once stood. We then walked around the outside. It only took about 15-20 mins so not too far for little legs.

Rayleigh mount

Rayleigh mount

Rayleigh windmill climbing rayleigh mount

Rayleigh windmill view from top of rayleigh mount

Eden is wearing a floral dress from Next, lemon leggings and Gold Converse High tops.

Thank you for reading ‘Rayleigh Windmill – A Review’.

Days Out, Farms, Indoor Play, Outdoors, Parks

Farm in Essex – White Elm Petting Farm

Farm in essex white elm petting farm

White Elm Petting Farm

I am always looking for new days out. As Eden is such an animal lover, we particularly love finding a new farm in Essex to visit. One of our favourite all rounders is White Elm Petting Farm in Bicknacre, Essex. The farm is still relatively new and they are continually improving and working on it.

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm entrance
The farm is based within the grounds of White Elm Garden Centre. It’s not just a garden centre offering the usual plants and shrubs on sale. It’s more than that, there is also a selection of log cabin shops with a whole host of individual businesses selling Baby clothes to Soaps. There is also a Deli, Florist and antique furniture shop.

The Farm

White Elm Petting Farm is a family run farm with over a 100 animals including Pygmy Goats, Alpacas, Sheep, Rheas, Pigs, Goats, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Ducks, Minature Pony, Chickens, Geese & Wallabies. Our favourites are a Breed of sheep that are so sweet and their faces look just like teddy bears!

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm teddy bear sheep
Entrance fees are reasonable £4.95 adults, £3.95 kids and under 2’s free. This also includes access to the Play Barn, Outdoor Playground, Digger Pit and Tractor Track..

You have the option of buying a bucket of feed when you enter. Eden absolutely loves getting hands on and feeding the animals. You can feed pretty much all the animals there, apart from a couple that have signs up to say otherwise. It’s a lovely relaxed farm and they encourage you to interact with the animals and pet them if you wish. There are plenty of hand washing stations as you walk round to clean up afterwards.

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm animals

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm feeding goats

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm feeding animals Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm
Food

White Elm Garden centre has a lovely tearoom. There is always a huge selection of delicious handmade cakes on offer to tempt you. There is also an extensive menu, from panini’s to fully cooked meals. They also offer a great roast dinner on a Sunday! Be warned don’t get there too late as they have been known to sell out!

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm tea room

There is also a snack bar in the Play Barn.

Play Barn

There is a great indoor Play Barn which is included in the cost of entry to the farm. A large spacious area with seating and a snack bar. It’s a great play area for the kids with a small separate area for younger ones.

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm play Barn

Outdoors

Outside they have a children’s playground, tractor track and digger pit to keep the kids entertained. This area is gated off.

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm playgroundFarms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm outdoor play area
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Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm

Eating Out, Food, Lifestyle

My Favourite Afternoon Teas in Essex

My favourite Afternoon Teas in Essex

Anyone that knows me, knows I adore a good afternoon tea! Whether it’s celebrating a birthday, Mother’s Day or baby shower, it seems to always fit the bill. It’s the combination of delicious neat little sandwiches, freshly baked scones smothered in clotted cream and dollops of jam, the dainty patterned china and all served in gorgeously pretty surroundings! I am always looking for new Afternoon Teas in Essex to try and am often asked to recommend one. So here are just a few of my favs!

The Chichester Hotel

The Chichester Hotel one gets my vote for the food itself, absolutely tonnes of it. It’s such good value for money. We paid £14.95 per head.

The Chichester Hotel ‘a charming and historic boutique venue’ is a renovated 13th century farmhouse in Wickford, Essex. The afternoon tea is served in their restaurant.

Afternoon Teas in Essex The Chichester
The Afternoon Tea

We were pleasantly surprised by the sandwiches, we received a huge tray (for 4 persons) which was followed by a second tray shortly after. That’s often my complaint at afternoon teas, never enough sandwiches, but not in this case. Sandwiches were plentiful, fresh and a good varied selection of fillings.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Sandwiches at The ChichesterAfternoon Teas in Essex The Chichester SconesAfternoon Teas in Essex The Chichester cakes
We were really impressed with all the cakes and scones, there were so many we had to take some home with us. We found the staff really polite and very helpful.
I honestly couldn’t fault our afternoon tea at The Chichester. It’s up there with the best of them and I always recommend it to friends and family. We are looking forward to trying one of their Sunday Roasts very soon.

Orsett Hall Hotel

The Orsett Hall Hotel gets my vote for its beautiful surroundings and decor. The Garden Brasserie is a gorgeously decorated restaurant with floral wallpaper, matching curtains and multicoloured chandeliers to die for!

Afternoon Teas in Essex Orsett Hall Garden BrasserieAfternoon Teas in Essex Orsett Hall Garden Brasserie

The Afternoon Tea

The Afternoon Tea was £19.95 per head at the time and was very nice. The menu does vary but you often get a sausage roll or another savoury treat along with the sandwiches which is a nice touch. I would say I do need extra sandwiches when I attend Orsett Hall. I think an extra round should be offered as standard. It comes beautifully presented on a traditional 3 tier cake stand. The cakes often have a quirky edge to them, whether it’s a pipette of caramel sauce to squeeze into your cake or a cake on a stick, it’s something to look forward to.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Orsett Hall Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Teas in Essex Afternoon Tea Orsett hall

Rowhill Grange Hotel

Ok so just over the border from Essex in Kent is Rowhill Grange Hotel. A silver star luxury boutique hotel that gets my vote as they treat you like royalty. The 19th century Manor House is set in impressive grounds, nice to wander through and burn off some of that cake afterwards.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Rowhill Grange
The Afternoon Tea

This was actually booked as a gift, but on checking their website, the afternoon tea is £21.95 to £23.95. We were able to add on a children’s Afternoon Tea for Eden for just £10.

The service at the Rowhill Grange Hotel was impeccable. We were made to feel like royalty and it made it feel like a really special occasion.

The Afternoon Tea itself was delicious and Eden had her own cake stand all to herself. We were really impressed and would definitely go back.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Rowhill Grange afternoon tea
Afternoon Teas in Essex Close up of cakes Rowhill cakes
Camelia Hotel

The Camelia Hotel is a Boutique Hotel situated on the seafront just outside of Southend. If you can get the window table in their restaurant, it is a real treat. It gets my vote for their relaxed and welcoming environment. It is £16.95 per head.

The Afternoon Tea

Their afternoon tea comes with a delicious selection of sandwiches and wraps. The cake stand is filled with cakes, scones, sweets and chocolate dipped strawberries. A real treat, especially for the little ones.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Camelia Hotel SandwichesAfternoon Teas in Essex Scones camelia hotelAfternoon Teas in Essex camelia hotel cakes
Temperleys

Temperleys gets my vote for its historic charm. It is an ‘oasis of calm’ in the bustling town of Colchester. Set in a courtyard within a large walled garden, the historic building is very quaint.  You would just walk right by if you didn’t know it was there. The afternoon tea is £20 per person.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Temperleys colchesterAfternoon Teas in Essex Eden standing in front of wooden door at TemperleysAfternoon Teas in Essex Temperleys walled garden
The Afternoon Tea

The Afternoon Tea was served on a traditional 3 tier cake stand with the addition of blue macaroons. They matched them to our blue baby shower theme. They were very accommodating.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Temperleys afternoon tea
These are just a few of my favourite afternoon teas in Essex (and surrounding areas). There are so many more I have on my bucket list to try very soon. I will be shortly blogging about my favourite little tearooms in Essex where I love to pop in for a cake and coffee!

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Afternoon teas in essex