Hedingham Castle is 25 miles from Happy Campers’ base. It sits in 160 acres of grounds in the heart of the Essex countryside, which makes it a great, easily reached visit on any short break. It often hosts special events, such as the Porsche show seen in the picture above.
It’s one of the best-preserved Norman castles in England, with a single span stone arch that rivals even the greatest cathedrals of its day. Next door, a grand Georgian Mansion acts as the home of the current owners.
The grounds are largely laid to grass, but also feature a formal garden, a long lake that reflects the house, and a fish pond that was used to feed the residents of the castle during times of siege.
Aside from William the Conqueror, a list of the castle’s visitors reads like a Who’s Who of British history, including Henry VIII (he of the six wives), Elizabeth I and Benjamin Disraeli.
If you want to join them, it takes around 50 minutes to drive there from Chelmsford at campervan speeds, north on the A131 towards Braintree. You’ll soon pick up the brown tourist signs once you get past Braintree, and it’s easily found using GPS.
The castle has toilets, and a cafe on the Garrison Floor of the keep itself — that’s the part of the castle that would have been home to the soldiers who defended the building from would-be invaders. The soldiers have been replaced by the cafe staff, serving tea, coffee, lunches and plenty of home-made cakes. There’s also a shop selling branded gifts and souvenirs.