The town has expanded to include neighbouring settlements (the 2011 population of Braintree town was 41,634 whilst the population of the urban area was 53,477). The town lies on the River Brain and south of Stane Street whilst Bocking lies on the River Blackwater to the north. Sometimes the two area is referred to as Braintree & Bocking although they form a single urban area.
The town dates back to habitation in the Bronze and Iron Ages. Later the settlement was used by the Saxons after the Romans left. The town was recorded in the Doomsday Book then called Branchetreu. By the 14th century the town was manufacturing woollen cloth and by the 17th century Flemish immigrants contributed to this making the town famous and bringing prosperity. In the 19th century silk manufacture replaced wool and the town benefitted from a rail link to London.
For a town of its size it boasts very few amenities. However, a shopping village on the outskirts, 'Freeport', has roughly 80 shops. It mainly specialise in clothing, along with a bowling alley and a cinema, which makes Braintree worth visiting.
Getting into Braintree by road is easy. The main roads in and out of Braintree are the A120 and A131. Using the A120 you can travel to Braintree from the M11 or From Colchester, Using the A131 you can approach from the Chelmsford or Sudbury direction. It is also possible to exit the A12 road at Witham and 15 minutes further to Braintree.
Braintree is also ideally suited for those who are intending to drive to or from Stansted airport as is located about 15 min by car away on the A120 dual carriageway towards the M11.
Braintree is served frequently by buses from Chelmsford, Stansted Airport, only 20 min away, and Colchester among other routes. There are also other smaller bus services for the smaller surrounding towns and villages.
- 1 Braintree Train Station, Station Approach, Braintree, CM7 3QL. Regular trains from London Liverpool St terminate at Braintree Train station (also stopping at Braintree Freeport Station). Generally the service is once an hour but this can vary from time to time. Traveling from further north of Braintree generally requires a change of trains at Witham station. Station managed by and services run by Greater Anglia.
- 2 Braintree Freeport Train Station, Chapel Hill Retail Park, Braintree, CM77 8YH. Station managed by and services run by Greater Anglia.
The town in on National Cycle Route 16 Bishop's Stortford to Southend-on-Sea, passing through Great Dunmow 11 miles to the W and through Witham 8 miles to the SE (just beyond which it joins National Cycle Route 1 and the National Cycle Network.
Braintree is small enough to get away with walking everywhere: although the lazier ones will be pleased to know that there is a fairly reliable bus service that can get you around most parts of the town.
- 1 Hatfield Forest, Takeley, Bishop's Stortford, CM22 6NE, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This forest is about 20 min away heading towards the M11 on the A120 If you are looking for a serene day in the wood its rather pleasant. On a nice summer day the woods can look very nice in the summer. The National Trust do not charge for entry in to the property but to park is £5, well worth the money.
- 2 Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker, Kelvedon Hall Lane, Kelvedon Hatch CM14 5TL (25 miles SW of Braintree; Access is from the A128 Chipping Ongar to Brentwood road at Kelvedon Hatch.If you have GPS then use CM15 0LA), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 1 Mar-31 Oct: daily 10AM-4PM; 1 Nov-end-Feb: Th-Su 10AM-4PM. A large underground bunker maintained during the cold war as a potential regional government headquarters. No credit card payment.Crown Buildings Adults £7.50; children (5-16) £5.50.
- "Bocking end" Down this area of braintree some old houses still remain. Though moderized slightly, they still have the traditional Tudor black wooded beams. While expoloring this area of Braintree which is quite small, why not pop into "Hogs" at the bottom of the hill or "The Angel" for a quick pint.
- 3 Paycocke's House and Garden, 25 West Street, Coggeshall, Colchester, CO6 1NS, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 4 Bocking Mill (OS Grid ref: TL 763 259), ☏ . Visit on Open Days. No parking (park in Church St). No toilet facilities. Small grass picnic area
- 5 Braintree District Museum, Manor St, Braintree CM7 3HW, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Sa 10AM-4PM. Adult £4; child £2; concession £3.
- 6 Warner Textile Archive, Silks Way, Braintree CM7 3GB, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. W 10AM-4PM & 1st Sa of month 10AM-4PM. England’s 2nd-largest collection of flat textiles. Adults £4; children £2; concessions £3.
- 1 Coggeshall Grange Barn, Grange Hill, Coggeshall, Colchester, CO6 1RE (6½ miles E of Braintree), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Adult £7; child £3.50.
- 2 Namco Funscape (Bowling, Fun & Games), Freeport Leisure Village, Charter Way, Braintree CM77 8YH, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M W F noon-late (10AM-late during school holidays); Tu Th Sa Su 10AM-late.
- 3 Braintree Swimming & Fitness (Swimming Pool & Gym), Charter Way, Braintree CM77 8YJ, ☏ .
- 4 Great Notley Country Park (Activity Centre), Great Notley CM77 7FS (4 miles SW of Braintree), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 8AM-dusk. 100-acre site. Sky Ropes and Essex’s longest play trail (1.2 km), giant see-saw, climbing forest, tyre swings, sand pits, rope climbers, slides, forts and a water play area. Birdwatching, walking, cycling, fishing, etc. Dogs allowed. No BBQs.
The usual range of high street stores can be found in the town centre.
- 1 Town Market, Manor St, Market Place, High St, & Bank Street, ☏ . W Sa 7AM-3:30PM (winter) 7AM-4:30PM (summer). The town centre fills up with market stalls. Nothing that really stands out that not at a hundred other such markets held at small towns across the country, apart from a goth/metal clothing stall, which has some quite nice stuff. The people who run it are dead friendly and chatty, too.
- 2 Freeport Outlet Shopping Village, Charter Way, Chapel Hill, Braintree CM77 8YH (2 miles SE of town centre). Over 85 shops and restaurants in a village layout design. See Freeport Village Store List.
- 3 Proper Gander, 6 Little Square, Braintree CM7 1UT, ☏ . A small occult/general 'alternative' shop, candles, incense, rocks & crystals, body jewellery.
- 4 Braintree Antiques Centre, The Bocking Arts Theatre, 15 Bocking End, Braintree CM7 9AE, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. W-Su 10AM-4:30PM.
- 5 Tesco (Supermarket), Market Place, Braintree CM7 3HQ, ☏ . M-W 6AM-8PM, Th F 6AM-9PM, Sa 6AM-8PM, Su 10AM-4PM. ATMs, Wi-Fi
- 6 Sainsbury's (Supermarket), 1 Tofts Walk, Braintree CM7 1XH, ☏ . M-W 7AM-8PM, Th F 7AM-9PM, Sa 7AM-8PM, Su 10AM-4PM. Petrol station (different hours). ATMs.
Finding a place to eat in Braintree should not be a hard task: the town centre is littered with pubs and sandwich bars which cater for a range of needs.
If you are looking for more of an evening meal you have to travel towards the outskirts of the town, Where you will find Freeport. This contains about 7 restaurants each catering for different needs, many of these franchises so you will have a rough idea of what you are likely to get.
Towards Galleys corner you can find fast food restaurants, a Pizza Hut, and Frankie and Benny's. Just across the road Fowlers Farm is a warm friendly pub which serves popular food also.
Along Cressing Road is an Indian/Turkish venue that serves a variety of tasty dishes.
Freeport Shopping Village has a number of fast food outlets.
Avoid Braintree after 5PM on a Saturday as it starts to resemble the set of Michael Jackson's "Thriller", and men and women with tattoos of family members names on their bingo wings start to congregate.
- 1 China Dynasty (Chinese Restaurant), 13-15 Coggeshall Rd, Braintree CM7 9DB, ☏ . M-Sa noon-2PM & 6-11PM, Su noon-3 & 6-10PM.
- 2 Siam Thai (Thai Restaurant), 14 Coggeshall Rd, Braintree CM7 9BY, ☏ . M 6-11PM, Tu-Sa noon-3PM & 6-11PM.
- 3 Merchant Spice (Indian Restaurant), 9 Fairfield Rd, Braintree CM7 3HA, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Th noon-2PM & 5-11:30PM, F Sa noon-2PM & 5PM-midnight, Su noon-11PM.
- 4 The Chophouse (Restaurant), 34 New St, Braintree CM7 1ES, ☏ . Tu-Th noon-10PM, F Sa noon-midnight, Su noon-6PM.
- 1 The Bull, Market Place, Braintree CM7 3HJ, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Pub: M-W Sa Su 11AM-11PM, Th F 11AM-3AM; food: daily 11AM-9PM. Decent size pub with ideas above its station. At weekends takes advantage of the lack of clubbing options in Braintree by clearing some space for dance floors and getting in a DJ. Fridays errs towards r'n'b and hip hop, while sticks with dance/techno music on Saturdays. Because of this, it sells itself as a nightclub/bar and charges a hefty entrance fee. Dress code is 'Smart Casual' and no hats to be worn inside.
- 2 The Swan (Pub), 22 - 26 Bank St, Braintree, ☏ . Pleasant atmosphere but can often be found a little emptier than other venues in the town.
- 3 The Dolphin (Pub & Food), Coggeshall Rd, Bradwell CM77 8EU (3 miles E of Braintree), ☏ .
- 4 The Picture Place (Pub & Food), Fairfield Rd, Braintree CM7 3HA, ☏ . M-Th 8AM-11:30PM, F Sa 8AM-midnight, Su 8AM-11:30PM. Free Wi-Fi.
- 5 The Fowler's Farm (Pub & Food), Cressing Rd, Braintree CM77 8DH, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-10:30PM.
- 1 White Hart Hotel, Bocking End, Braintree CM7 9AB, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A fairly nice hotel that is normally used to cater for wedding receptions. Free Wi-Fi.
- 2 Premier Travel Inn (Freeport Village), Fowlers Farm, Cressing Rd, Braintree CM77 8DH (2 miles SE of town centre), ☏ . Free Wi-Fi. Free on-site parking. (Former Holiday Inn Express.) from £42.
- 3 Premier Travel Inn (A120), Cressing Rd, Galleys Corner, Braintree CM77 8GG, ☏ (premium). Free Wi-Fi. from £44.
- 4 Gantway House Hotel, 77-79 High St, Braintree CM7 1JS, ☏ . Single from £35; double/twin from £70.
- 5 Panfield House (Guesthouse), 3 Panfield Lane, Braintree CM7 2TH, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Free Wi-Fi. Min 2-night stay at weekends. No credit card payments. from £90/night/2 people.
- 1 Post Office, 3-5 New St, Braintree CM7 1ER. M-Sa 7:30AM-5:30PM.
The local bus service can take people to nearby towns and villages. One of the main bus services is the number 70 by First Essex which connects Colchester and Chelmsford and passes through Braintree bus park every 30 minutes in each direction.
Braintree's train line is a spur off of the national service, and all trains leaving will be heading for London, The frequency of these trains is once every hour. Trains take about 45 min to reach London stopping at various stops along the way. Those wishing to head further up the main line towards Colchester, Ipswich, Clacton, etc., can change at Witham.