Maldon, on a hill with a commanding view over the tidal Blackwater, has a history dating back to the Anglo-Saxons. Market Hill drops steeply to the river, but High Street is a more gentle slope; there are plenty of Georgian frontages, though much behind is older. The 13th century All Saints Church has a unique triangular tower and contains the Washington window, donated in 1928 in memory of Rev. Laurence Washington, great-great-grandfather of George; he was buried in the churchyard in 1652.

Down the street the surviving tower of St Peter’s Church had Dr Plume’s library added in 1704; today it also houses the Maeldune Heritage Centre with its heritage, archival, art and craft displays. Near the Hythe the 14th century St Mary the Virgin Church (Grade I Listed) is appropriately called the Fisherman’s (or Sailor’s) Church – a pilgrimage path runs to St Peter’s Church at Bradwell. The long river Promenade terminates with a statue of Saxon leader Brythnoth, who stands defiantly, sword raised against invading Vikings.

On to Tiptree, where the Wilkins family have farmed for over 300 years. 150 years ago they started making jam which is now famous worldwide. Wilkins has a royal warrant. Our guide took us on a bumpy tractor-ride around the fruit fields. Their museum is full of interesting items and our party were treated to a scrumptious cream tea with, of course Wilkins jam. Many thanks to Chris and Lois Terry for a varied and fascinating outing.

Richard Worman

Illustration: Maeldune Centre, Maldon