Last weekend with a house full of dear friends from my old job we decided to explore the local area around Harwich, and despite a rather heavy night fueled with Prosecco and red wine we embarked on an 8 mile walk from Harwich to Wrabness, in the hope that the fresh sea air would blow away the cobwebs (that it did). We had heard great things about Wrabness and were very excited by the prospect that it was home to Grayson Perry’s illustrious house, so what better carrot to have dangled in front of us as we set about the challenge ahead.
We started off in Old Harwich…
where we quickly stumbled across this lovely old book shop, at this rate this walk could take a while!
Distraction over, the walk then takes you along the seafront along to Dovercourt Beach, a white sand, blue flag beach, with pretty beach huts lining the way – much of the time was spent picking out our favourite, a hard choice let me tell you.
These two we my favourite after lots of thought…
The course then takes a more wild route across marsh land reminiscent of the beautiful Norfolk broads.
The Essex Way as it’s called, which was swapped around many a time along the route to the well known phrase “The Only Way Is Essex” then steers you up across farmland and fields, at this time of year awash with startling splashes of yellow from the crops of rape seed along with pretty dandelion clocks. Occasionally we were met by a friendly horse bounding over in the hope of a free snack.
You are then met with the pretty village of Ramsey complete with pub The Castle, but after our rather heavy night it was unanimous a pub could not be stomached at this point in time and we must crack on with the promise of fish and chips at the end.
The path then creeps up from Ramsey until you find yourself in field land peering back over Ramsey windmill. Through fields of wild flowers, lined with hedgerows that promise great blackberry harvests in the Autumn you then meet Wrabness wood. A welcome contrast from the openness and head wind and we found ourselves in an enchanted enclave, filled with carpets of bluebells and snow drops.
As you meander through the wood you suddenly become aware you are alongside the Stour Estuary, idyllic for all kinds of bird and nature watching.
With sore feet and the start of rumbling tummies we were elated to catch a glimpse of the top of Grayson Perry’s house.
As we finished the last few steps along the estuary the path then takes a sharp left and leads you up the hill to Black Boy Lane and the location of Grayson Perry’s House.
Where you are met with this…..
A House For Essex was designed by Grayson Perry (one of the UK’s leading contemporary artists, winning the Turner Prize in 2003) and FAT Architecture It is both an artwork in itself and the setting for a number of works by Grayson Perry exploring the special character and unique qualities of Essex. The building has been designed to evoke a tradition of wayside and pilgrimage chapels. It belongs to a history of follies, whilst also being deeply of its own time. The house itself doesn’t attempt to blend in with or copy local buildings in the village of Wrabness, instead it stands alone as a unique addition to the countryside. However it remains sympathetic to the site and the area’s sense of remoteness. For example, hand-made tiles relate tonally to the landscape while the building’s simple pitched roof forms echo simple agricultural buildings and farmhouses.
According to Chelmsford born Perry the house is ‘inspired by follies, eccentric homes, shrines and fairy tales. More precisely, though, it’s inspired by a woman called Julie. Born in Canvey Island in 1953, she married refinery worker Dave in her youth and had two children by him before an affair ended their marriage. She subsequently wed Rob, who commissioned this ornate house in her memory after she was knocked down and killed by a curry delivery driver in Colchester.’ It really is quite extraordinary and finished off our beautiful walk nicely along with the promise of fish and chips after the train ride back to Harwich, it was unanimous there would be no round walking trip back!