Layer Marney Feather Down Farms

UK England East Anglia Essex Colchester

  • Extra toilets/showers
  • Deep cleaning of shared facilities
  • Deep clean between glamping guests
  • "We're Good To Go" accredited
  • Campfires allowed
  • Dogs welcome
  • Hot Tubs
  • Campfires Allowed
  • Hot tubs
  • Good walks nearby
  • Walking
Soaring 80ft into the sky, Layer Marney is the tallest Tudor gatehouse in England

It's remarkable to think that less than an hour's drive from London – before you've even hit Colchester – there's a wild and haunting part of East Anglia that's remained untouched and reassuringly unspoilt.

The site itself is hard to miss. As the road narrows, you’ll catch sight of Layer Marney Tower, its imposing terracotta brickwork acting as a beacon for your arrival. Centuries before The Shard first laid its steel foundations, the Tudors were battling it out to build the tallest structures, in an attempt to prove their status.

Soaring 80ft into the sky, Layer Marney is the tallest Tudor gatehouse in England, so an essential part of your trip should be to climb to the top. There you'll be rewarded with panoramic views to the Blackwater estuary and beyond. On a clear day, you might even spot St Cedd’s Chapel on the Dengie peninsula.

Your encampment, on the other hand, may be a little trickier to track down. Though all for good reason: the six dwellings are nestled amongst birch, ash and alder trees that share a habitat with pheasants, woodpeckers and owls. If you're lucky, you may even catch sight of a red deer from the comfort of your porch.

And you're not just staying in any old tent. These are luxurious camping spaces, lovingly designed by the folk from Feather Down Farms. You get all the usual home comforts such as real double beds topped with thick fluffy duvets, a wood-burning stove to keep your feet warm through the night, and a flushing toilet (so no midnight dash to a cold, damp shower block).

Budding bushcrafters will be in their element with the 'discovery' tent (a treasure trove filled with paints, books and a microscope – a real favourite with the kids). But the true highlight is coming back from a tough afternoon of hide-and-seek to your own personal wood-burning hot tub. It requires a bit of kindling wizardry and a lot of patience, but the results are worth every second. Particularly when dusk cloaks the campsite, since Essex – famed for its flat terrain – is home to some truly breathtaking sunsets. Simply lie back, crack open a bottle of local cider, and let the swaying trees relax you into a gentle slumber.



There are six encampments in total (each sleeping six). Each tent has a flushing toilet, cold running water, a separate shower (hot water is transported by a barrel on wheels), a hot tub and a wood-burning stove (with a cooking plate).. There is no mains electricity in the tent, but battery-powered lamps can be recharged by hopping on a static bicycle and giving it some peddle.

Separately, there is a discovery tent, containing a telescope, art materials, a small selection of books, a microscope and two small camp beds, in case of additional visitors.

A starter pack of supplies is included upon arrival, but additional goods can be bought from the on-site Bothy. The shop works on an honesty basis and stocks a variety of essentials, from kindling to local ciders. Fruit and vegetables can be pre-ordered and collected here too.

Added luxuries can be booked in advance, including a butler service, which ensures hot food/drinks and a pre-lit stove will be waiting for your arrival.

Suitable For

Kids, families, well-behaved dogs on leads – yes. Campervans, caravans, tents – no.


One of your first tasks should be to strap on your walking boots and explore the estate by ambling through the woods, stream and hedgerows (alternatively, bikes are available to hire from the site). The best views can be found at the top of Layer Marney Tower (01206 330784 – guests get a free pass in their welcome pack). Your ascent will be rewarded with panoramic views to the coast.

Ornithologists should take a short bike ride to Abberton reservoir, one of the region’s top bird-watching spots, to look for scarce waders and tree-nesting cormorants. Carry on peddling and you’ll hit the tiny wriggling creeks of the Blackwater estuary, part of Essex’s wildly indented shoreline. Here you can find the Copt Hall Marshes – a great place to spot waders and overwintering birds, whilst enjoying a bracing walk along the coast.

Hop across to Mersea Island where you can enjoy a vineyard tour (01206 385900) and pick up a bottle of local wine for dinner.

Food & Drink

The on-site shop sells a small amount of local produce (such as eggs, milk and local fruit juice. Fresh veg, fruit or meats can be picked up in nearby Tiptree, home of Wilkin & Sons' jams and preserves.

For a more homely welcome – and some stomach-busting mains – there are plenty of family-friendly pubs in the area. Try The Hare and Hounds (01206 330459), which serves good pub grub in relaxed surroundings, or the Layer Fox (01206 738723), a family owned freehouse in Layer De La Haye.

To the south lies the Blackwater estuary, the coast and delicious food. The area is famous for the Colchester native oyster: try them out at West Mersea Oyster Bar (01206 381600) on Mersea Island. Or, if the thought of oysters makes you a little uneasy, grab some traditional pub food at nearby The Coast Inn (01206 383568) or delicious seafood at The Company Shed (01206 382700).


Start of April–end October.

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The Owner Says

Layer Marney is a startling historical Tudor location only 20 minutes’ drive from Mersea Island.  All tents come with a private shower and some have outdoor hot tubs, which can be booked as an extra. This is truly an indulgent way to get back to nature. Each tent also has its own fire pit. Rising above it all, the tower’s brickwork and terracotta glows in sunshine as it must have done in Henry VIII’s time. From the top of the tower there are amazing sea views as well.

Meet Peggy and Darcy the beautiful black horses and learn about the rare goat-like Castle Milk Moorit sheep! Don’t worry, you will be able to meet other animals. In spring you can enjoy bottle-feeding the lambs. There’s the spider’s web climbing frame behind the barn and more children’s play equipment by the Poultry Palace where the chickens live. Layer Marney Tower is the tallest Tudor gatehouse in England, and was built by Lord Marney, longtime friend of Henry VIII. It is barely an hour from Greater London, as seen recently on Channel 4’s Four in a Bed TV series, of which the owners of the Tower were joint winners, showcasing both Feather Down and the tower itself.

Layer Marney also has its own activity program which visitors are perfectly placed to join. The tents nestle in a beautiful spot in the birch, ash and alder trees that you’ll share with pheasants, woodpeckers, muntjac deer and owls, with some tents facing fields that are home to red deer.

Social Distancing Measures

All available accommodations will have private facilities. Our tents will be carefully cleaned, disinfected, and ventilated for you prior to your arrival.

If you or a family member are feeling sick or have been confirmed, we ask you to contact our booking office as soon as possible and for you to not come to our location. We will rebook your stay to another date.

Arrival and departure times have been amended for an extra cleaning routine

When you arrive at the farm, please send only one person to report to the farmer/host.

During your stay, outside visitors will not be allowed.

The pizza evening has been adapted or cancelled

The farm tour has been adapted or cancelled


Canvas Lodge with Private Outdoor Shower

Safari tent Sleeps 6 2 Available
Sleeps 6. If you’re a nature lover, there is nothing quite sensational as showering in the midst of nature. Located right next to your tent is where you will find our wooden, rustic private outdoor shower.

Check Availability


Show Map

Getting There

Satnav postcode is CO5 9US.

From Ipswich and the East:
Turn off the A12 at the Halstead exit (B1124). Take the first left at the roundabout and the third exit at the second roundabout, towards Maldon. Go straight ahead at the next roundabout, turn left at the second, then turn right at the third. Keep following the signs towards Maldon until you see a turning on the left signposted Layer Marney Tower. Follow the lane for 1/4 of a mile – do not go through the entrance gates to Layer Marney Tower, but carry on down the road. At the end, turn right down a track signed to the church and Hall Farm cottages. At the church car park, turn left down a track signed to Hall Farm cottages and turn right, just before the gateway to the farm buildings. The car park is on the right.

From London and the West:
Leave the A12 at Kelvedon, onto the B1024. Drive through Kelvedon, crossing the river, and turn right by the Old Anchor pub, to Maldon and Tiptree (B1023). Follow this road for about two miles, then turn left at the T-junction, towards Colchester (B1022). Turn right after 2 miles, following the signs to Layer Marney Tower. When you reach the entrance gates to Layer Marney Tower, carry on down the road. At the end, turn right down a track signed to the church and Hall Farm cottages. At the church car park, turn left down a track signed to Hall Farm cottages and turn right, just before the gateway to the farm buildings. The car park is on the right.

We cannot be reached by public transport.


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Why book with Glampingly?

  • Best Price Guarantee, with no fees
  • Instant booking confirmation
  • Trusted for over 10 years
  • A chance to win prizes in our regular competitions

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