You really can’t beat a quaint British village.
They are perfect if you are looking for a quiet getaway away from the big cities and the busiest towns, or if you want to stroll through the fascinating history of our country.
Above all, however, British villages are generally pleasant to the eye, inspiring some of the best paintings of the modern era.
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The Times has ranked the UK’s 30 most beautiful villages and we’re a little disappointed that nowhere in Essex has made the list.
Our county is full of beautiful little villages, but luckily there are few on the list that are a short drive away.
The Times has also included details on where to stay and eat in the listed villages, so you can plan your perfect stay.
Here are the two villages a short drive from Essex which are among the most beautiful in the UK:
Lavenham is close to Essex, as it is only a 15 minute drive from Sudbury – which sits on the Essex-Suffolk border.
It is steeped in history and is very well preserved as an English Tudor village.
In its review of Lavenham, The Times said: “You will come for antique and vintage stores in an old Lovejoy playground.
“You’ll linger over England’s best-preserved Tudor village, its wobbly half-timbering and candy-colored plasters are a legacy of prosperity as a town of wool.”
Lavenham has a spectacular 15th century church – St Peter & St Paul’s Church.
In addition to this side of his history, Lavenham trained the famous painter John Constable – who attended the Old Grammar School.
In modern times, Lavenham is perhaps best known for appearing in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
De Vere House on Water Street was filmed as a house in the birthplace of the famous fictional character “Godric’s Hollow”.
The Times recommends The Lavenham Greyhound as a choice for “fancy pub food” and for staying at The Swan.
Prices for a double bed at the B&B start at just £ 110.
Cambridge is pretty scenic as it is, but just walk down the River Cam and you’ll come across Grantchester.
It is also just a 25 minute drive from the town of Saffron Walden in Essex, so very easy to get to from the county.
James Stewart of The Times wrote in his review of Grantchester: “Discover a dreamlike village where you are not so much an idle tourist as an esthete pilgrim: stroll by the edge of Byron’s Pool (tame bear optional), stroll like EM Forster , Virginia Woolf or Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour on silver willow meadows, letting time drift outside the Red Lion. “
It ranks fourth on The Times’ list and it’s very easy to see why.
The village is also quite prestigious, as it is said to have the highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners in the world.
You can easily get to the village on foot or by rowboat from Cambridge and the Times recommends having a light lunch at Orchard Tea Garden.
And if you need a place to express yourself, there’s the University Arms, with double guest rooms starting at £ 191 a little more.
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