The town grew as a result of it's close association with the River Colne and it's excellent natural harbour. The Oyster fishery was an import industry and there was a large fishing fleet of 'Colchester Smacks'. In the 1930's more sprats were landed in Brightlingsea than in all the rest of the country. Many of the fishing boats were built in the town together with many of the Thames Barges, and the Aldous yard was a major employer. So much so that many of the houses in the lower part of the town were built by Aldous for their labour force.
All Saints Church stands on a hill top on the approach road to Brightlingsea approximately one and a half miles from the town centre. Built circa 1250 comprising of the present Chancel, two thirds of the Nave with two small Chapels. it incorporated part of an earlier building and great deal of Roman brick. In the wall to the west of the south door there is a round headed recess incorporating roman brickwork, this probably dates from the early Norman period. In the late 15th century the Tower, one of the finest in East Anglia, was build to the west of the Church. Once it had settled the Nave was extended by two bays to meet it. The Vestry was build in 1518 and the North Chapel enlarged by the Beriffe family circa 1520. The original Nave roof and Clerestory collapsed in 1814 and in spite of hard work and a national collection it could only be replaced by the present pitched roof. The church contains many items of interest such as the frieze of memorial tiles to men lost at sea. The Lady Chapel and the north and centre aisles contain brasses of the Beriffes. The Baptistery, located under the Tower, contains a fine Tudor font with traces of the original paintwork and the original West Door. Also in this area are two rare dummy board figures of Moses and Aaron. There is a strong link with the Cinque Port Liberty and the new Deputy is chosen annually in the church, see the list of Past Deputies. The Chancel holds an ornate marble memorial to Nicholas Magens an 18th. century Lord of the Manor, Underwriter and Merchant. The Tower is 97ft. high and was built in three stages containing a minstrels gallery, the Deputy's and ringing room holding the ringing frame of the peal of tubular bells, the bell chamber with the original but much altered bell cage which houses the two remaining. bells. The roof which is accessible, provides panoramic views over a vast area. The Church is open in the afternoons from Easter to the end of September from 2.00pm until 5.00 pm. The Friends of All Saints is an established charity dedicated to the maintenance of the Church's fabric, It was formed in 1969 and has raised over £100,000 for that purpose.
Amongst the popular facilities in Brightlingsea is the Community Centre located at the junction of Lower Park Road and Station Road, Built on the site of the town's former railway station, the community centre is used for many functions such as the annual Horticultural Show held in August and the production of the Town's dramatic groups (Seaview Plyers, Panto Group and Operatic Group).
Rooms for small group meetings, childrens parties of up to 40 people and larger rooms for groups of up to 70 people, can be hired. The main hall can also be hired and come complete with a large stage and full lighting. The hall can seat an audience of 250.
The Community Centre has a licensed bar and full details are available from the centre during office hours 9am until 12pm Monday to Thursday. (01206 302055).
Registered Charity 301265.
The community manages to sustain an active town centre and High Street. There is a very strong tradition of community help for the people of the town, and it's schools add continuously to their reputations. A recent development has been the successes in the Anglia and Britain in Bloom Competitions.
There are two other schools in Brightlingsea. All the Brightlingsea Schools are open to both boys and girls and accept students from the surrounding district as well as from the town itself.
Brightlingsea Infants School
Brightlingsea Infant School shares its site with Brightlingsea Junior School. The Infant School building opened in 1967 and consists of seven classrooms in the main building and three re-locatable classrooms situated near the playground area. The new Foundation Stage Play Area enables children to enjoy a continuous learning environment both inside and outside the classroom.
You can find out more about the infant school by visiting their website at http://www.brightlingsea-inf.essex.sch.uk/
Colne Community School
The Colne Community School and Sixth Form College are located in Church Road and plays a major part in the town's activities. The school, as with all others in the town, accepts students from the surrounding district and caters for GCSE and A Level students. The school is very well equipped.
The school has an active extra curricular schedule and has been involved in many national and international projects with great success. A number of students are successful in gaining university places.
The school and college are recognised for their links with the community and the campus contains Brightlingsea Sports Centre which is used by members of the public and students.
Telephone 01206 303511 Fax 01206 302258
You can visit the Colne Community Schools own website at http://www.colne.essex.sch.uk/
Brightlingsea has a wide range of leisure activities from gentle walks to boating and swimming, By virtue of its coastal position, much of Brightlingsea's attraction is to be found on the waterfront that runs alongside Brightlingsea Creek to the mouth of the River Colne.
The prom is a favourite place for holiday makers with its beach and beach huts, It winds its way from the Sailing Club at one end to Batemans Tower at the other.
Further information about the town of Brightlingsea can be found on the towns official website at www.brightlingsea-town.co.uk