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Hadleigh Castle

A forgotten hub of a military stronghold 25 mins from Grays.
Just a short drive down the A13 delivers you to the Chalkwell community and then Southend, places you've probably visited many times. Chalkwell itself is a largely unremarkable community consisting of a high street full of fast food restaurants (of the “kebab after pub” type) and of course the Betting shops and Poundlands. But head closer to the Thames and you will happen upon a site that, on the face of it looks rather derelict and underwhelming, but it is the site of the famous Hadleigh Castle, a site of such strategic importance during the hundred years war with the French that it was sited as being the third most crucial fortress at that time (behind only Dover and Windsor castle) and though you get only a sense of its towering eminence it is still substantial enough to walk around and through. The site sits on a hill of such beauty and splendour that this alone is worth seeing. The castle was built by King John in the 12th century and given to his chief Minister at the time, a chap called Herbert de Burgh, who proved to be a handy fellow to have around as he won great fame for defending this part of England from this very point repelling the French after a lengthy and highly unsuccessful attack. It is from this battle that importance of this Castle was decreed to be such a crucial square on the board for the next 100 years. From this point you have an 180 degree view of the estuary and Kent across the river. OK, you can get this from many points along the Thames but not from this height, and it is from here overlooking this view that the strategic importance of Hadleigh rings true. You need to have good weather or at least good light to fully appreciate the splendour of the area but even if you don’t have this there is a salvation army tea room situated a hundred yards walk away that gives great views and is nicely priced.

Postcode: SS7 2AP (go to the end of Castle Lane, and park on the side of the road)

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