A new year brings new openings and events, and there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Essex.
Here, Visit Essex, round up new hotel openings, celebrations and events taking place in Essex.
A whole range of events, activities and ambitious projects are being planned for 2020, to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the ‘Mayflower’ sailing to the New World.
Essex is proud of its strong links to the ‘Mayflower’ and the United States. It is thought to have been built in Harwich and its Captain, Christopher Jones, hailed from the town. Christopher Jones’ house will be open to the public from March 2020 and also the Mayflower Visitor Centre, which will be the ideal place to learn about the roots and culture of America’s early colonists, opens in April. For more information about tours of the house and opening times, contact The Harwich Society.
The Illuminate Festival will take place on 27 and 28 November 2020. Procession through old Harwich, light displays and entertainment.
A year-long festival of events and activities to mark various anniversaries of heritage assets in the Rochford district, including HMS Beagle.
200 years of HMS Beagle, 30 – 31 May 2020
The Freight House, Rochford, SS4 1BU
This FREE entry event will celebrate 200 years since the launch of HMS Beagle. This prestigious ship circumnavigated the globe with famous passenger Charles Darwin and is synonymous with discovery in the fields of science, meteorology and even space exploration.
HMS Beagle was finally decommissioned by the Royal Navy in 1845 when she was transferred to the Coastguard and repurposed as a watch vessel stationed at Paglesham in Rochford District, where archaeologists have been searching for her remains in the estuary mud.
Last Summer, exploratory work undertaken by Wessex Archaeology (commissioned by Historic England), revealed the outline of the original mud dock where she was dismantled and these investigations were recently featured on ‘BBC One Inside Out East’, with further analysis ongoing. This event is designed to be an authentic, interactive experience for the whole family to enjoy. discover2020.co.uk/
Inspired by the British Science Festival which will be taking part in the city of Chelmsford, 8-12 September. The first time in its 189th year history to be in the region. There will be a year-long festival of events related to STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics – exhibitions, workshops, events, festivals and more.
Lee Valley Regional Park
A new Wildlife Discovery Centre will be launching in River Lee Country Park at Fishers Green near Waltham Abbey. It’s hoped that this will be built and ready to open from mid-June and will include state of the art facilities with a viewing tower providing a completely different perspective to watching wildlife and a two-tier viewing platform inside the hide for enhanced viewing angles and photography opportunities.
A CCTV system will provide stunning up-close footage allowing visitors to get closer than ever to the wildlife in this signature spot in the Lee Valley. More details at www.leevalleypark.org.uk
A brand new Travelodge will open in the spring, enhancing the accommodation offer in the district.
Wivenhoe House Hotel, Colchester
Spring 2020 will bring an exciting time for Wivenhoe House Hotel, with a bedroom expansion on the horizon, this beautiful 4-star country house hotel will be offering five new luxury rooms for guests to enjoy.
The Electric Palace Cinema, Harwich
One of the oldest, purpose-built cinemas to survive, with its silent screen, original projection room and façade still intact, re-opens in April after major renovations. Find out more at www.electricpalace.com
The shopping centre and leisure destination has seen huge changes over the last few years including the development of The Quay, new stores and leisure pursuits. The newest addition for 2020 will be Nickelodeon Adventure, the first in the UK. An indoor play adventure which gives little ones the chance to immerse themselves in the worlds of their favourite characters form PAW Patrol to Dora the Explorer.
Working with Harrods, ‘H Beauty’ the first stand-alone Harrods beauty hall, will also open in April. Read more about intu Lakeside.
Braintree Village (retail shopping outlet)
Over the next few years Braintree Village will undergo a huge transformation and facelift, bringing over 90 fashion, food, beauty and homeware brands together, including a new flagship store and a great choice of restaurants and cafes, in stylish, social and relaxing surroundings. The village celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2019. Keep up with the latest news here.
An exciting project which will modernise and improve the much-loved Mercury Theatre in Colchester, safeguarding its future for the whole community. Redeveloping the main Foyer, Auditorium, creating a Café, new back-stage facilities and making it accessible for all. It will re-open in September 2020.
England’s Creative Coast Campaign
A collaboration between Essex, Kent and East Sussex to install seven waterfront art installations – one to be unveiled in Essex on 24 and 25 July by artist Katrina Palmer in Southend. Also, the world’s first Geo Tour will be released in July/August covering these areas.
Courtaulds: Origins, Innovations & Family, 1816-1982, Saturday 1 February – Saturday 30 May 2020
Braintree is the birthplace of Courtaulds, a family silk manufacturer that became a worldwide industrial textile company. Braintree Museum’s major new exhibition, in partnership with The Courtauld Institute of Art, reveals the story of the development of artificial silk, influence of the family and their rich local legacy.
Stories of family members who became war heroes, local politicians, suffragettes, World War One doctors, and Arctic explorers will be featured, showing how the family legacy to the nation was more than just textile heritage.
Original objects featured will include the first woodblock prints by the artist Gauguin, lent by The Courtauld Gallery, London; a suffragette poster designed by Catherine Courtauld, from the Women’s Library, London; the remains from Augustin Courtauld’s Arctic flag from the Scott Polar Institute, all complimented with loans from the Courtauld Family’s Private Collection shown alongside the Museum’s artefacts for the first time. www.braintreemuseum.co.uk
The Gibberd Gallery, Harlow
In April the Gibberd Gallery will have a brand-new exhibition, Lee Grandjean: Seeing Things 1970-2020. Lee was born in London in 1949.
At the age of 12, he moved to Harlow New Town and lived in a flat overlooking Barbara Hepworth’s Contrapuntal Forms. He went on to study at Walthamstow College of Art and Winchester College of Art and teach at the Royal College of Art.
This exhibition will for the first time, take a retrospective view of Lee’s wide -ranging sculptural practice, showing work from the 1970s to the present day.
April will also see the launch of a brand-new website for Harlow Sculpture Town. This will make the collection more accessible, a map with three new trails, and each sculpture will also be getting an eye-catching sign.
Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome
The oldest surviving World War I aerodrome in Europe is delighted to announce the arrival of a new exhibition to the Aerodrome from Good Friday 10 April until 31 October 2020.
The new project, created in partnership with the Tourism and Mayors office for the Nord de Pas de Calais, with the help of the RAF, by the site’s award-winning display team of volunteers.
Set in the Home Defence Museum, ‘St Omer: The Great War’ will be a fantastic exploration of the largest logistical depot and aviation operations in the history of the Great War. This will be the only opportunity to see this exhibition in the UK. www.stowmaries.org.uk
Mountfitchet House on the Hill Museum, Stansted
New for 2020 in the House on the Hill Museum (formerly House on the Hill Toy Museum) will be a WW2 Exhibition. This exhibition is based on the time of the Blitz, and in particular the evacuation of children, the largest evacuation in history. The exhibition will feature historical documents, photographs and many exhibits from life on The Home Front.
ANNIVERSARIES IN 2020
Thames Chase Community Forest
The Thames Chase Community Forest is a remarkable landscape initiative, actively transforming 40 square miles of the landscape in East London and South West Essex.
Launched in 1990, in 2020, the Thames Chase Community Forest will be celebrating 30 years of landscape regeneration, transforming the green environment for the 650,000 population living through and around its boundaries.
30th Anniversary Intu Lakeside (retail and leisure destination), Thurrock.
100 years celebrating the 1st radio broadcast from Chelmsford Marconi factory in 1920 by Dame Nellie Melba.
300th Annniversary of the Naze Tower, Walton-on-the-Naze.
A former navigational lookout standing 86ft high on a beautiful stretch of the Essex coastline, housing an art gallery, museum, viewing platform and tearoom.
20th Anniversary of Essex Records Office, Chelmsford.
Over 750 digital images of Parish Registers, wills and electoral registers to help trace family history. Visit the Search Room, access the archives online and request copies of birth, marriage and death certificates.
600th Anniversary of the Moot Hall, Maldon
A surviving fragment of a much larger dwelling known as the D’Arcy Mansion, which has stood in one form or other on Maldon High Street since the 15th century.
1000th anniversary of Ashingdon parish church
Built in 1020 by the order of the king, the famous ‘Canute the Great’ of Denmark. The first priest at Ashingdon was one of King Canute’s personal priests, Stigand, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury who crowned King Harold and officiated at the coronation of William The Conqueror in 1066.