Southend is a traditional seaside town with a long and rich history. Originally, the town was home to a small group of fishermen but in the 1790s, the local landowner, Daniel Scratton, sold off land that would later become the town’s high street. Once stagecoaches from London were able to access the town, it started to grow into the bustling seaside town we know and love today.
Southend has many unique, grown-up, historical attractions just waiting to be explored. Here is just a small selection of what’s available, right from the doorstep of Hamilton’s Boutique Hotel.
Cliff’s Pavilion Theatre hosts regular shows throughout the year. Opened in 1964, it’s famous for its shows by professional troupes, comedy acts, and repertory groups. Run by Southend Council and Southend Theatres, this should be one of your first stop offs during your stay.
Old Leigh-on-Sea is a quaint little village, just to the west of the main Southend seafront, perfect for celebrating anniversaries and birthdays. There are lots of small shops and restaurants in the village, allowing it to retain much of its original character. Dotted along the front are pubs where you can grab a quick bite to eat, as well as plenty of little beaches to enjoy the sunshine.
Hadleigh Castle was built in the 13th century by King John’s chief minister, Hubert de Burgh. In its day, the castle was a sprawling, lavish complex, designed to cater for the needs of this most esteemed of the King’s subjects. Hubert de Burgh designed the castle to be a projection of his power, but following a falling out with the King in the 1220s, the castle was soon returned to Royal hands. Now the castle ruins are open to the public and offer a wealth of opportunity to investigate the history of this fascinating area. The castle provides excellent views of the estuary.
The Belfairs Wood Nature Reserve is perfect for those who want to get closer to nature during their stay in Southend. This little patch of paradise, located in the heart of the urban sprawl, plays host to some of the region's native species, as well as migrating birds. Here you’ll find long sprawling paths, ice cream vans, afternoon tea plenty of space to go for a run or cycle. It’s certainly a favourite among visitors.
Do you love contemporary, visual art? Then the Focal Point Gallery might be just the art gallery for you. The gallery regularly features contemporary art and commissions solo exhibitions alongside group and thematic shows. It also hosts a programme of events, funded by the Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, offering film screenings, public speaking and live performances.
Given that Southend pier is famous all over the country - and possibly the world - it’s no surprise that it has its own dedicated museum. The museum opens during the summer season on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Bank Holidays between 11 am and 5 pm.