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Here’s to 8 of the best Essex pub gardens

Fancy a cheeky half in a glorious pub garden post lockdown? Thought so. Luckily, we've got the inside scoop on where to head for the best food, views and local tipples. The only thing we can't promise is sun

For many of us, summer doesn’t officially start until we’ve sat in a proper British beer garden with a warm glass of something flat and a thick carpet of leaden cloud on the horizon. This year though, let’s aim for better. Whether you’re dreaming of a shandy under the shade of an oak, an Aperol spritz riverside, or quintessential village views with a chilled flute of crisp fizz, we’ve scoured Essex for some of the best in show. And there’s bound to be lots more absolute corkers out there, so get your drinking caps on and if you think there’s been a disgraceful admission, let me know!

The Hoop pub Stock

The Hoop, Stock

Constructed in 1640 from the timber of warships at Tilbury Docks, this charming Stock stalwart is big on heritage, hearty dishes and outdoor dining. A secluded stretch of lawn greets locals round the back, while villagers often spill out onto the green for languid rounds of sundowners. Inside, you’ll find roaring feature fireplaces, rustic wooden tables and plenty of village cheer. Order a full-bodied vino from local vineyard, New Hall, or a fruity pint of Adnams from nearby Suffolk before tucking into a pub classic out on the patio. And, yes, festoon lighting comes as standard. thehoop.co.uk

Galvin Green Man

Galvin Green Man, Great Waltham

Set in the picturesque countryside fringing Chelmsford, this beautifully refurbished building dates back to 1341 and serves up an enormous pub garden with panoramic views. Kids will love the huge dedicated play area and, with plenty of space to dine alongside, mums and dads will too. Menu-wise, it’s run by the Galvin brothers – award-winning Essex-born chefs who have turned this little corner of the countryside into a foodie favourite. With its Bib Gourmand credentials and a super stylish bistro to boot, the Galvin Green Man is ticking a lot of pub-garden-shaped boxes for stress-free summer supping right now. galvinrestaurants.com

The Lion Inn garden

The Lion Inn, Boreham

Offering up stylish courtyard dining for light bites and a chilled bottle of something fruity, this gorgeous gastro pub in the rolling hills of Boreham is just the ticket for a long lunch with friends. The bar is pure French theatre, with an eclectic mix of antiques and salvaged finds dominating the stylish interiors. Outside, diners prefer to drink in piazza-style views while they peruse the menu, which delivers fresh plates of quality pub classics. thelioninnhotel.co.uk

The Peterboat terrace

The Peterboat, Leigh-on-Sea

Situated in the heart of Old Leigh’s cobbled lanes, with uninterrupted views out across the estuary, it’s no surprise that The Peterboat is a summertime staple for locals. Famed for serving up the freshest fish dishes in Leigh-on-Sea since 1695, head down early to bag a prime spot on the seafront and order its signature Peterboat cockle chowder. If you’re lucky, you might just catch one of the pub’s buzzy live music nights too. the-peterboat.eastangliapubs.com

Sun Inn Dedham pub garden

The Sun Inn, Dedham

This attractive-looking watering hole in the heart of historic Dedham also happens to have a handsome pub garden tucked behind its warm exterior. Think a peaceful, plant-filled patio that leads out on to a sprawling sun-dappled lawn. Shady trees to wile away the afternoon under? Check. Local craft brews to taste test? Check. A slice of summer in a charming Essex village? Bells on (providing the weather plays ball, of course). Note: the bar menu will start back up on 8 July, with the full restaurant menu to recommence on 17 July. In the meantime, make the most of those local pale ales. thesuninndedham.com

The Folly Bistro Essex pub garden

The Folly Bistro, East Hanningfield

What started life as a village butchery in 1642 is now a cosy inglenook gastro jaunt complete with an always-blooming alfresco dining space. Inside, The Folly Bistro is all log burners, polished glassware and fabulous fixtures and fittings. Outside, you’ll find an immaculately dressed pub garden and terrace to decant to, both kitted out in swish-looking parasols and want-to-take-home dining sets. Oh, and don’t forget about the food: mouthwatering moules, sautéed wild mushrooms, pie of the day and chumps of lamb are all local favourites, best washed down with a Pucks Folly ale from the Brentwood Brewery. Don’t mind if we do. thefollybistro.co.uk

The King's Head Ongar pub garden

The King’s Head, Ongar

Laced with acres of outdoor lighting, swanky lounging sets and modern bistro furniture, The King’s Head courtyard is a smart choice for chic swillers. Nab a cream-cushioned sofa, order a bottle of something bubbly, and soak up a spot of people watching while you tuck into one of the pub’s signature wood-fired pizzas. Friday nights don’t get better than this, people. kingsheadongar.co.uk

Theydon Oak Essex pub garden

Theydon Oak, Epping

Festooned with flowering baskets and framed by the ancient boughs of Epping Forest, Theydon Oak is a real gem of a country pub. Even Epping local Rod Stewart agrees: he opened up the venue’s sprawling gardens with wife Penny Lancaster. This summer, punters can enjoy one of three spacious patios; gently meander along the pub’s babbling brook and listed lawns; or watch the kids take full advantage of Theydon Oak‘s all-weather play area. It’s basically a day out with alcohol. What’s not to love? thetheydonoak.co.uk

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