All About The Island.
Despite the ongoing march of development Mersea manages to retain some of its former island magic. At full moon and new moon the sea water slowly creeps over the silver mud onto The Strood causeway and we become, for a while, truly an island, cut off from the mainland.
The marshes seem desolate to some but they can be amazingly beautiful, a shoreline of forgotten backwaters, seal haunted creeks where curlew and oyster catcher probe the mud for food at low tide. Partake of a sundowner at one of our hostelries in the west and watch the sun go down, all gold and emereld green, over Feldy Marsh.
If you were a Seagull you would know that Mersea is shaped like an oyster and that it rises along a central ridge to about seventy feet - which is what passes for a hill in Essex. The whole Island is five miles long by two miles wide and has a land mass of 2,683 acres. It sits on a a bed of London Clay producing a rich heavy loamy soil interspersed with patches of sandy gravel.
The small town of West Mersea (population about 7000) sits at the western end of the island and four or five miles to the east lies the farming hamlet of East Mersea (population about 200). They are two distinct communities.
Mostly due to a supply of water from freshwater springs the Island has been a settlement for 2000 years. Mersea is situated on the East Coast of England, nine miles south of Colchester. It is the most easterly inhabited island in Britain and faces south to the Blackwater Estuary - the largest estuary between the Thames and the Wash and is bordered on its northern shores by the Pyefleet and Strood Channels
At East Mersea two rivers, the Blackwater and the Colne merge. The Colne runs nine miles north inland until it reaches Colchester "Britains' Oldest Recorded Town". Colchester was once a Colonia. a Roman garrison, and remains a Garrison town today. In Roman times Mersea Island became a retirement retreat for Veteran Officers of the Roman Legions. There is archeological evidence of the existence of more than one luxury Roman Villas on the island.
In conservation terms the Blackwater is one of the top ten estuaries in Western Europe for migrant birds especially wading birds, a large section of it being a triple SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). Mersea saltmarshes form part of the Eastern Atlantic Flyway a migration route for millions of seabirds stretching from Siberia to South Africa.
This location has a dry healthy climate with rainfall of approximately twenty inches per year. Residents are famous for their longevity (we have the highest number of ninety year olds in the Colchester Borough area) and Mersea men are (allegedly) known for their virility. Apparently it's the zinc in the oysters!
Mersea is, so they tell us in Colchester, a "seaside resort" . However - If you like to spend your hard earned cash on gambling arcades or white knuckle rides, then don't come to here. We are more of a laid back seaside kind of place, favouring the simple pleasures of life, like sitting upon or strolling along the beach, paddling in the sea, picnicing in the car park, crabbing off the causeway, or spending lazy days in our beach huts (all 400 of them).
Mersea has a long sand and shingle beach and very clean bathing water. If you do decide to take the plunge (and it can be a bit nippy early season) don't wait around too long because, at low tide, the water disappears way into the distance. Low tide is the time to venture out across a long gritty sandbank to search for shellfish, paddle in warm pools and let the tiny tiny crabs crabs run over your toes!
Mersea has the largest inshore fishing fleet between Lowestoft and Brixham, there are also quite a few charter (rod and line) boats. The main is, sole, skate, bass and mullet in summer and herring and cod in winter. Second only to this comes oyster farming.
Until the turn of the century oysters were dredged under sail and you can still see some of our lovingly preserved antique fishing Smacks out on the water in all their glory.
It would be fair to say that Mersea is a place where people, like Toad, love "Simply messing about in boats". There are always craft, of all kinds, sailing, speeding or chugging up and down the river.
We welcome all Visitors - just one word of warning - watch out for the killer mozzies and deadly jellyfish (only joking) - and the locals of course - we are all a bit odd.
Find out more about Mersea by clicking on to Mersea Connections