A mere stone’s throw from London, Essex county in the East of England has gained a reputation over the years for being the location for a popular reality TV show, but did you know there are a wealth of different activities to enjoy in the country for all ages, including the elderly?
As well as award-winning vineyards, stunning coastlines, artisan gardens and stately homes, just some of the things the county can boast about are numerous talented artists including Depeche Mode and Alison Moyet, world-famous strawberries, the largest free air show in Europe and the largest turf maze in the world, amongst others.
So, if you’re in your twilight years or have parents who are, read on for our list of the top things for elderly people to enjoy in Essex.
First up is Hylands House and Park, a stunning Grade II listed manor house nestled in 570 acres of beautiful parkland. There are guided tours of the house and gardens for visitors, plus a cosy café, second-hand bookshop and artists’ studios to explore at your leisure.
The House holds many events throughout the year, including design workshops, jewellery making, farmers markets, Christmas markets, dog shows and musical events, so head to the site to find out what’s on.
Accessibility-wise, there are lifts to all floors in the house save for the clock tower and wheelchair users can use the paved paths across the park.
Colchester Castle is a fascinating relic dating back to 1076 - but actually stands on top of a temple from Roman times! Offering visitors tales of Roman and Norman conquests, Boudiccan revolt and Civil War, history buffs will love Colchester Castle and its museum.
With interactive displays and star exhibits, visitors can take part in as much or as little as they wish, as well as exploring the Roman vaults and Castle roof as part of the guided tours.
With disabled parking and concession tickets for the elderly, some areas of the museum are accessible to wheelchair users or those with a disability, but we recommend phoning ahead if you are planning a visit to discuss options with the staff.
If you’re tech-savvy, you can download the Ancient Colchester App to bring historic sites around Colchester Town Centre to life. The app provides a guide to each site and includes a walking trail, augmented reality, 360-degree panoramic reconstructions and a wealth of historical info to keep you amused throughout the tour.
If your loved one is a jazz aficionado, a folk fan or a theatre lover, the Colchester Arts Centre is open for entertainment and holds numerous festivals and events, including book festivals, farmers’ markets, jazz concerts and plays. Hidden away in a small converted church in the heart of Essex, the venue also hosts comedy shows and live music.
Check out what’s on on the website and be sure to book tickets well in advance, as shows are popular and do tend to sell out. There are concession tickets for pensioners and step-free access to the venue for wheelchair users or those who use other mobility devices.
If you’re spending a few days in Essex, it’s well worth a trip to Colchester Zoo. There are over 260 different species at the zoo, with daily feeding and training sessions to entertain visitors, including red panda, penguin and lion encounters.
If you or your loved one has mobility issues, there is a discounted ticket price on offer as not all areas of the zoo will be accessible. Wheelchair hire is available and there is even an easier walking route for those with reduced mobility.
The zoo is open every day from 9.30 AM except for Christmas Day - and closing times vary depending on the season, but last admission is always one hour before close. Check out more information and plan your visit here.
Next up is Audley End House and Gardens, a hidden treasure located just outside Saffron Walden. The House was originally built in 1605 but has been added to over the centuries to include different architectural and garden landscaping styles.
Visitors can explore the servant’s wing, kitchens and bedrooms in the house to discover the history of the Braybrookes, wander the gorgeous grounds and meet the resident horses in the stables, as well as visit the Organic Kitchen Gardens. There is also a café and a shop.
There is wheelchair and mobility scooter hire at the House, as well as ramps to access the restaurants, shops, toilets and ground floor of the house, but no disabled access to the upper floors. Find out all you need to know about visiting the Audley End House here.
Southend Pier holds the title of the longest pleasure pier in the world, extending an impressive 1.33 miles into the Thames Estuary. The Pier holds exciting events and performances all year-round in its Great Pavilion, plus crafting sessions and seasonal shows.
Enjoy walking along the Pier itself to take in the ocean views, or enjoy a refreshing drink and a tasty snack in the Salt Cafe or the Pier’s very own tearoom. There’s even a mini golf course if you’re feeling up to it!
The Pier is suitable for all ages and provides disabled access via the walkway and Pier trains. Guide dogs and assistance dogs are also welcome and you can hire a wheelchair or mobility scooter from the Visitor Information Centre in advance.
So, if you’re planning a day trip to Essex or want to spend a whole weekend in the county, we hope this list has given you a good starting point to plan your visit. Enjoy getting to know this beautiful county and all it has to offer.
You can view our care homes in Essex here