Situated on the banks of the river stour Manningtree is a claimant of the title of Englands smallest town.
Manningtree, along with the neighbouring village of Mistley, is rich in both history and architectural interest.
The witch finder general Mathew Hopkins began his reign of terror in Manningtree in 1645. His ghost is said to haunt various locations in the area including Mistley pond where witches were bound and his swimming test was performed.
There are many buildings of historical importance in the area; a number of the older cottages in Manningtree and Mistley were constructed by weavers who settled in the area during the 16th Century, having fled the Netherlands. Another distinct style of building appeared over the next hundred years with the influx of French Huguenots.
Much of the Georgian architecture typical of the area arose from Richard Rigby’s influence though Rigby’s public disgrace for mismanaging his office as Paymaster of the Forces meant that the plan ultimately ran out of funds, some examples of Adam’s work remain, such as the Swan Fountain and Mistley Towers, part of an unfinished church demolished in 1870.
For over two centuries, the area was of great importance to the brewing and malting industries and some of the original buildings and the quay can still been seen at Mistley. Manningtree High Street, with its Victorian and Georgian facades and local Museum, is also worth a visit.