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Explore the social history of the Great British Seaside and visit an Essex hidden garden to meet the owner and enjoy a cream tea.

Meet the Guide at 10.30am just north of Colchester for morning coffee (included). We trace the story of the Essex Sunshine Coast from the wonky mediaeval buildings of the Tendring Peninsula at a time of traditional ship building and seafaring to the heyday of the Great British Seaside and beyond.

Social campaigners like William Morris talked up a trend for the poor to move to the coast to find liberation from city squalor.

Property developer Frank Stedman's motive was more money than altruism when he sold £50 plots on the salt marsh fields of Jaywick in the 1920s for East Enders to build holiday chalets. Driven by post war housing shortages, gradually these flimsy chalets became permanent homes and they are still lived in today. We visit Jaywick Martello Tower to see how a community art project aims to help banish the bleak.

Trips to the seaside began with piers.

Today we use piers to walk out to sea but for Victorian Londoners the pier was where your steamer landed and you walked ashore. Planned as a high class resort, as soon as the pier was built, Clacton was claimed by the people. It reached peak popularity in the late 50s before the inexorable rise of the cheap Spanish holiday emptied the hotels.

We drive through Clacton and its neighbour Frinton, where the golf course and no pier combined with tree-lined avenues sweeping down to an elegant Esplanade and cliff-top greensward has always led Frinton to think highly of itself. We stop for free time for lunch by the seaside at Walton on Naze which teeters on the cusp of gentrification.

In 1987 the hurricane uprooted 20 acres of woodland leaving a land island where, in recovery from serious illness, plantswoman Fiona Edmond created a little piece of heaven which she called Green Island Gardens. We meet Fiona and visit the Japanese, water and seaside gardens before enjoying a cream tea which is included. You'll be heading home at 4.45pm

Adults & Seniors: £35

Includes morning coffee, garden admission with owner’s introduction and cream tea, top notch Blue Badge Guide and a jaywick Martello Tower donation

Available Wed to Sat

April to September

Price Valid to 31 March 2020

45 miles