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
Safari tents stays on a Tudor country estate in Essex

Holidaying in the shadow of a tower is not something that usually gets the Cool Camping seal of approval but we’re making an exception for Layer Marney. After all, this is not just any tower. It’s Layer Marney Tower; the tallest Tudor gatehouse in England, built by a good chum of Henry VIII on a quiet country estate in Essex, just an hour east of London. And it’s not just any holiday that’s on offer here either. Stays are in off-grid but en suite safari tents with campfires allowed, farm animals nearby and nature all around.

Layer Marney is a Feather Down site; one of a network of places hosting roomy safari tents (or ‘tented cottages’ as the Feather Down team likes to call them) lit only by candles and oil lamps. The rustic but homely accommodation is provided by Feather Down and invariably lovely with well-stocked kitchens, log burners and cute kids’ cupboard bedrooms as fond highlights for their many fans. Here, each tent has an en suite toilet, a private shower and a hot tub to hire if you want it. And while the well-set up accommodation varies little from place to place, the on-site experience is as unique as each location with hosting left in the capable hands of the land owners.

We may have been slightly exaggerating when we said Layer Marney’s tents were ‘in the shadow of the tower’. They are, in fact, a little walk away, more likely to be shaded by the birch, ash and alder trees they’re nestled among than the terracotta tiles of the tower. They share this natural habitat with deer, pheasants, woodpeckers and owls so keep your eyes peeled during your stay. While the appearance of wildlife can’t be guaranteed, there are some animals you’ll definitely see. The estate is home to chickens, sheep and horses which you’re welcome to visit and, in the summer holidays, tractor rides are sometimes on offer too.

The whole estate is yours to explore with entrance to the tower included with your stay. Climb the 99 steps to the top for views of the surrounding area and inspiration of places to visit off site, should you want to venture further. Three miles down the road is Tiptree, home of the famous jam. Pop there for a cream tea and a nose round the tiny jam museum or hire bikes and ride out to the Abberton Reservoir, stopping off for a pub lunch on the way. The Blackwater Estuary and the coast are a few miles further; venture to Mersea Island to try the local oysters, head to Copt Hall Marshes to spot birds or simply stay put and enjoy the view.



Each family-sized safari tent has three rooms: a double bedroom, a bunk room and the main living space within which has a cute cupboard bed suitable for younger children. The living space also has a fully-equipped kitchen, a wood-burning stove, dining area and a sofa and each tent has a private en-suite, flushing toilet. There is running cold water to both the hand basin and the kitchen sink. A private hot-water shower is not quite en suite but private and just outside your tent. There is also a sheltered veranda outside with two deck chairs, a picnic table and outdoor cooking area with a barbecue and a fire pit for each tent. Three of the six tents have a hot tub available to hire too. The site also has a pizza oven and a large, shared undercover seating area, The Deer Barn, as well as an honesty shop, The Bothy, selling campsite basics. Fruit, vegetable and barbecue boxes can also be pre-ordered (direct from site) and collected from here too.

Suitable For

Glampers only, couples, families, groups, 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 gardens, woods, stream and hedgerows. 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. In the summer holidays, tractor rides are available around the farm which is home to sheep, chicken and horses. Ornithologists should take a short bike ride to Abberton Reservoir (01206 738172), one of the region’s top bird-watching spots to look for scarce waders and tree-nesting cormorants. It's just a couple of miles away and a pleasant cycle. If you haven't got your own bikes, hire them from Outdoor Hire Centres (01206 700707), who can deliver them to site. 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. Kids might like a trip to Colchester Zoo (five miles from site) while grown up glampers might prefer to 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 ordered in advance (contact site direct) and picked up from here too. There's also a tearoom on site in the Edwardian stables. Alternatively head to nearby Tiptree (four miles down the road), home of Wilkin & Sons' jams and preserves. There's a tearoom (01621 814524) and a little free-to-enter jam museum too. For something more substantial, there are plenty of family-friendly pubs in the area. Try The Hare and Hounds (01206 330459) two miles from Layer Marney, which serves good pub grub in relaxed surroundings, or the family-owned freehouse, Layer Fox (01206 738723), a little further on 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).



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  • Best Price Guarantee, with no fees
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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


Six family-sized safari tents, each sleeping up to six people.

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


Contact Layer Marney, Layer Marney, Colchester, Essex CO5 9US

Show Map

Getting There

Use postcode CO5 9US if relying on SatNav. From the A12 (approaching from either direction), follow signs towards Maldon until you see signs for the Layer Marney Tower. 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.

The closest railway station is at Marks Tey, six miles from Layer Marney. From there, you would need a taxi (book in advance as there's no rank) for the onward journey. An alternative would be to stay on the train to Colchester (eight miles from site) from where you could pick up a taxi more easily.


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Why book with Cool Camping?

  • 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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