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Ardleigh is a village and civil parish in Essex, sitting approximately 4 miles northeast from Colchester and 26 miles northeast from Chelmsford.

Ardleigh is located in the district of Tendring and the parliamentary constituency of Harwich and North Essex, with the village having its own Parish Council. It's renown for its reservoir - perfect for fishing!


Ardleigh has been inhabited for well over 3000 years with people being in the area since the Bronze Age. The richest source of archaelogical finds has been in the South East of the village. 

When the Romans went on the local road-building programme they took into account the position of the existing settlement and Ardleigh appeared to have been on the main traffic routes at this time. The main road between Colchester and Ipswich (the old A12) is a Roman road and located a mile from Ardleigh.

The Dark Ages between the end of the fourth century and the Norman Conquest reveal a bit of Ardleigh’s history, but the Millenium following the Norman Conquest is very well documented.

Transport & Geography

The Great Eastern Main Line is close to the village but the railway station closed in November 1967, meaning the closest railway station is now Manningtree, 3 miles northeast. The village is on the A137 road, a common route from Colchester to Ipswich. Ardleigh Reservoir sits less than a mile to the south west. The area also includes various smallholdings, originally funded by the Land Settlement Association.

Ardleigh sits on a flat gravel plain in open countryside between Manningtree and Colchester. The parish measures 6km east to west and around 5.5km north to south. It’s made up of mostly agricultural land, but there is a village centre near St Mary’s Church and the A137/B1029 crossroads.

To both west and south of the village centre there’s a valley system which is no longer apparent to the casual onlooker. The reservoir fills a big part of one of these valleys and the only clear sign of that valley’s existence is at John de Bois Hill. There is however a hilly, sunken lane leading down into the wooded area of Spring Valley, which is a stark contrast in atmosphere from the basic flat gravel plain where most of area sits on.

Living there

Ardleigh has always been considered a desirable location for home buyers. It offers village life but allows easy access to local towns like Colchester and Ipswich and access to London by train. It’s not considered a tourist attraction like Dedham, but it’s located on the edge of the well known Stour Valley. People regularly commute from Ardleigh and it retains its village way of life.


Ardleigh is home to a large number of small and big businesses, related to many activities including market gardening, engineering, farming, and the timber trade and leisure pursuits. A lot of the smaller businesses are based in redundant farm buildings. There’s a large enterprise to the south of the village which extracts sand and gravel and has been doing so for the last three generations.

There are three shops in the village centre; one is also the village Post Office. There’s also a public house and a fish-and-chip shop. The village centre is situated in agricultural land, and has several enclosed spaces which add to the visual quality of the village and to the amenities; these include the grounds of Ardleigh Court, the village cemetery, the village allotments, St Mary’s churchyard, the open space within Church View/Chapel Croft, the recreation ground and the Millenium Green.



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