A village that thinks it's a town

PUBLISHED: 13:42 12 May 2009 | UPDATED: 16:00 20 February 2013

Tolleshunt Knights

Tolleshunt Knights

Tiptree is a thriving village - officially the county's biggest. David Turner, editor of Tiptree's Open Door magazine, tells us what else makes it special

HAVING grown from a small hamlet of a few families to the current 10,000 population within the past 150 years, it is not surprising that Tiptree has aspirations of becoming even bigger.

In fact, local legend states that seer Mother Shipton once prophesied that Tiptree would indeed one day become a city.

Although having the status of being the largest village in Essex, Tiptree, situated between Colchester and Maldon, has maintained its rural appeal since it is still surrounded by forests and heathland. Legend has it that the location was supposedly named by an Anglo-Saxon called Tippa who lived under a tree.

Tiptree Heath, as the area was known before the village was created in the 1800s, is now the largest remaining fragment of lowland heath, which is being maintained through the partnership of Friends of Tiptree Heath together with the Lord of the Manor and Essex Wildlife Trust. The heath hosts an annual craft fair, health walks, children's activities and wildlife courses.

Tiptree probably would not have existed without the intervention of the Wilkin family, who started the world-famous jam manufacturers in the village. Next year, Wilkin and Son celebrates its 125th anniversary, with a host of events which are set to involve the community.

Another celebration is the village's second oldest school, Tiptree Heath School, which marks its centenary this year with an Edwardian theme. The village has four primary schools and a secondary school, Thurstable which is also a sports college, and a good number of pre-schools and nurseries.

The two Anglican churches of St Luke's in Tiptree, which also serves Tolleshunt Knights, and All Saints' in Great Braxted, form a benefice under the leadership of Rector Martin Fletcher. St Luke's extension is a hive of social activities with clubs and groups meeting there on a daily basis.

The Friends of St Luke's Church has recently been established to encourage more parishioners to become involved in their local church. The village also has a Catholic, URC and Kingswood churches.

As Tiptree has grown, so its infrastructure has changed. There are still a few family firms left in the retail centre, such as Staines, Brights, The Cheap Shop, Perrywoods and Millins, but the bigger names have arrived too.

Tesco occupied the site in Church Road where Tiptree Book Services - once a major employer in the village - was located, and Fiveways sits on the former basketworks site at the top end of Tiptree.

There is plenty of sports and fitness facilities for all age groups, including a gymnasium, a golf driving range, bowls, shooting, roller skating and horse riding, and a wide range of clubs and interest groups including gardening, running, a choral society, art, dancing, senior citizens, the Men's Supper, a ladies' group, breakfast clubs, Tipplers and the WI.
Tiptree is known for its landmarks. The lake in the centre of the village is home to many ducks and often swans, while the windmill, built in 1775, is now a private house that can be seen from across the village.
Despite growing fast, Tiptree maintains a small community feel, and the local church magazine, Open Door, aims to reflect that each month with a slice of life in the village, revealing what makes Tiptree so special.

David Turner
Open Door

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