The wool and silk trades boomed in the area for almost 500 years and that heritage is proudly displayed in nearby museums. The surrounding countryside has remained largely untouched over time and is still one of the main draws for those looking for an idyllic location to put down roots. Along with great schooling, fast and direct train links to London and lots to do locally, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything Braintree isn’t able to offer.
Braintree being so close to London means it is increasingly becoming an area for first-time buyers looking for affordable properties and strong transport links. That trend will continue over the coming years with so many new houses being built in and around the region. This suits both young professionals and families and with rental costs also lower than the London average by some distance, Braintree also has much to offer renters. It’s country location also makes it ideal for empty nesters and those heading into retirement, generally offering a slower pace than the capital.
On the outskirts of Braintree you’ll find traditional-style architecture, with plenty of old farmhouses and converted cottages and barns. When you journey into the centre of the town there is a good selection of styles on show, ranging from medieval to Georgian on Bradford Street, while on Courtauld Road houses from the 1920s and Victorian era stand alongside more modern designs. Detached houses from the 1930s to more modern periods sit along Broad Road and London Road, while the Great Notley Garden Village is the most highly sought-after area to live in Braintree. Average property prices stand at £295,567, with average rent at £860 pcm.
Parents will have a good range of top-end private schools to choose from in and around Braintree. Felsted Preparatory School is a 20 minute drive and is a day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 4 to 18. Gosfield School is a 16 minute drive and is a mixed day school for children between the ages of 2 to 18. St Margaret’s Preparatory School is also close by and accepts both boys and girls aged between 2 and 11, serving as a day school. St Michael’s Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School was rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted during their last inspection as was Lyons Hall School, which teaches children at primary age. For secondary education, Tabor Academy for ages 11 to 18 has a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating.
In the countryside of Braintree there is plenty to see and experience. Great Notley Country Park has over 100 acres of open space and is home to Sky Ropes, as well as Essex’s longest children’s play trail.
The Cressing Temple Barns is an ancient monument which dates back to the Knights Templar in the 12th century and is open as a visitor site.
See the UK’s second largest collection of textiles at the Warner Textile Archive, which covers over 500 years of history and for even more historical facts, The Braintree District Museum is another notable place to visit, which looks back across the long history of the area from the Saxons to the present day.
Home to over 75 premium brands, Braintree Village is an outlet shopping village in the heart of Essex for fashion, perfume and home brands. It’s the main shopping hub in Braintree, all set within a relaxed village environment.
The George Yard Shopping Centre, a red brick open air mall is at the centre of all this, complemented by high street stores, coffee shops and eateries plus a bandstand.
The local market opens on Wednesdays and Saturdays and has been around in one form or another since the 11th Century. Here you can buy local food, drink and gifts.
To get away and pamper yourself, The Oak Rooms Spa in nearby Halstead comes highly recommended or if you prefer something a little more energetic there are a number of gyms in the Braintree area, including Bannatyne Health Club and Energie Fitness.
For good food head to Merchant Spice (Indian), Siam Thai (Thai), or China Dynasty (Chinese). Pubs including The Bull – a classic 16th century public house, The Picture Place and The Fowler’s Farm with its gastro menu have good local reputations. To catch a film visit the local Cineworld in town. Braintree Arts Theatre also regularly puts on live shows.
A planned 37 new homes are set to be built in nearby High Garrett, which sits between Braintree and Halstead. Great Dunmow, a village just on the outskirts of Braintree, will see the development of Woodlands Meadow, which will feature a host of 3, 4 and 5 bedroom properties. In Braintree itself, 2,665 homes will be built in Straits Mill, Panfield Lane, Church Street and at the former Towerlands site in Bocking, bringing new jobs and housing opportunities for locals and people living in and around the region.
Braintree Station serves local residents, offering direct links to Liverpool Street Station in just over an hour. On the average weekday there are 18 trains travelling this route.
Stansted is the nearest airport, requiring a two hour journey with a couple of changes. Gatwick takes around two hours and 30 minutes, Luton just over two hours and Heathrow about two hours and 30 minutes.