Birch and Layer Villages Information

On this page are details of some (but by no means all) of the amenities and services available in the villages of Birch, Layer Breton, Layer Marney and Layer de la Haye. Use the links in the Index table below to go directly to the required sections of the page.

Your help would be appreciated in keeping information up to date. Please contact me with details of changes, errors or dead links to external sites. Suggestions for additions will also be welcome.
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Alphabetical INDEX of Local Amenities and Services
Bus Services Parish Council and Parish Meeting Meetings
Cash Dispensers Parish News (monthly newsletter)
Children's Play Area Police
Churches Post Office
Colchester Borough Councillors - for local villages Pubs
Garages - Repairs and Servicing Refuse and Recycling
Gardening Club Schools
Milk Shop
Newspapers - Local Village Halls
Parish Council and Parish Meeting Contacts Women's Institute (WI)

Local information can also be found on the following websites: DiariesLocal History PagesLayer Breton Heath
Birch Parish
Layer de la Haye Parish
The above links to external websites will open a new window in your browser. Close the newly-opened window to return to this page.

Bus Services

Hedingham Omnibuses Ltd operate services through the villages of Birch (Service 92) and Layer de la Haye (Service 50). Their local office is at Dugard House, Peartree Road, Stanway, Colchester, CO3 0UL. Telephone: 01206-769778. Bus times are shown on their website at
The only alternative bus service for Birch residents involves a walk to the Maldon road to catch one of the buses on the Colchester - Maldon route, operated by First (Tel: 0845-602-0121).

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Cash Dispensers (ATMs)

Among local LINK network cash dispensers are those at the Co-op Fiveways supermarket in Peartree Road, Stanway, Sainsbury's at Tollgate, the Tesco and Asda supermarkets in Tiptree, and Layer Village Store at Layer de la Haye.

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Children's Play Area

In Birch, between Luard Way and Greenfield Houses, is a large children's play area which features an excellent selection of high quality play equipment. Following the opening of the latest phase of Birch Parish Council's 'Play Area Project' in June 2011, all age groups, from tots to teenagers, are now catered for. The play facilities match those found only in larger centres in the Colchester area.

Play equipment at Birch Play Area
Play Area and Equipment as at 2011 (Photo © Chris Harvey 2011)

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The Church of England parishes of Layer Breton with Birch, Layer Marney, and Layer de la Haye are part of the Benefice of Thurstable and Winstree. For times of services, contacts, history and locations of the 'Layer' churches, together with details of forthcoming events, visit the Layer Parishes Website.

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Colchester Borough Councillors - for local villages

The Borough Councillors for the Marks Tey and Layer Ward, which includes the villages of Birch, Layer Breton, Layer Marney and Layer de la Haye, are:

Councillor Kevin Bentley
Willoughby End, 32 Willoughby Avenue, West Mersea, Colchester CO5 8AU
Telephone: 01206-382405
FAX: 01206-548200

Councillor Andrew Ellis
Ransomes, Wigborough Road, Peldon, Colchester CO5 7RA.
Telephone: 01206-735166
Mobile: 07768 986 611

Councillor Jackie Maclean
263 London Road, Stanway, Colchester CO3 8LT.
Telephone: 01206-212128

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Garages - Repairs and Servicing

Lawes Garage, Maldon Road, Birch, CO2 0LT (just south of Heckfordbridge on the B1022 Colchester-Maldon road).
Car Sales, Vehicle Servicing & Repairs, MOT Testing Station, Tyres, Clutches & Exhausts.
Open 8-30am to 6-00pm Monday to Friday, 9-00am to 4-00pm Saturday.
Telephone: Car Sales - 01206-331193, Servicing & Repairs - 01206-330227.

G K Howlett Engineering - Motor & General Engineer, Layer Marney, run by Graham Howlett. You can contact Graham on 01206-330096.

BRB Auto Services, Little Winters, Layer Marney CO5 9UR, run by Bill Benham. For all servicing, repairs, tyres and air conditioning. MOTs arranged and submitted. Courtesy cars available. Major credit and debit cards accepted. Contact Bill Benham on 01206-331432.

In nearby Tiptree the franchised FORD agents are Youngs, 59 Maldon Road. Tel: 01621-814100, and the VAUXHALL agents are Underwoods, 5 Church Road. Tel: 01621-817781.

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Gardening Club

Three Villages Gardening Club. The club usually meets on the second Monday of every month at 7.30pm. During the winter months meetings are normally held in Birch Memorial Hall with an invited speaker. In the summer the club arranges two or three evening visits to gardens or other outside venues, plus a social barbecue for members and their guests. For more details contact the Chair: Annie Stewart (Tel: 331386. Email:, or the Vice Chair: Christine South (Tel: 331818. Email:, or Peter Gee (Tel: 330620).
Website: . The programme of monthly meetings is available on the website as well as general information about the club.

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Milk Deliveries

A milk delivery service is provided in the area by Dairy Crest Ltd. Their Freephone number is 0800-615-715.
Dairy Crest will also deliver a range of grocery, household, garden and pet items with your milk. Orders for these can be placed through their milk&more website at To use this service you will be required to set up a direct debit from your bank account or a recurring payment from your debit or credit card - see the website for details.

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Newspapers - Local

The Gazette, formerly the Evening Gazette, is the main local daily newspaper in the Colchester area. The main weekly newspaper is the Essex County Standard which is published on Fridays.

A more substantial paper, covering East Anglia, is the East Anglian Daily Times which has good coverage of Suffolk and Norfolk news as well as some national issues.

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Parish Council and Parish Meeting Contacts

Birch Parish Council
Chair: Mrs Elaine Bowtle; Telephone: 01206-330388.
Clerk: Ms Angela Balcombe; Telephone: 01376-550927; Mob: 07939-536286. Use this link to email the Clerk.
    Address: 6 Shires Close, Great Notley, Braintree CM77 7FT.
Website: carries detailed information about the work and responsibilities of the Council; Minutes of Parish Council meetings; information on local policing and the activities of the Three Villages Community Association.

Layer Breton Parish Meeting
Chair: Mr Phil Gladwin.
Clerk: Mr Christopher Beesley. Telephone: 01206-332904. Use this link to email the Clerk.

Layer Marney Parish Meeting
Clerk: Elsie Chapman. Telephone: 01206-330887. Use this link to email the Clerk.
Tree Warden: Jane Fairweather.
Footpath Officer: Dawn Cave.
Highways Officer: Fred Brown.

Layer de la Haye Parish Council
Chairman: Mr Brian Turner; Telephone: 01206-738733. Use this link to email the Chairman.
Vice Chairman: Mr I Moore; Telephone: 01206-734267. Use this link to email the Vice Chairman.
Clerk: Mr Grahame Walkingshaw; Telephone: 01206-240772. Use this link to email the Parish Clerk.
Website: carries extensive information about local amenities, contacts and events in Layer de la Haye.

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Parish Council and Parish Meeting Meetings

Dates of meetings of Birch Parish Council and of Layer Breton and Layer Marney Parish Meetings, and other village events, are usually posted on the Village Diaries page at

Layer Breton Parish Meetings are normally held on the third Monday of February, May and September.

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Parish News

Parish News is a monthly newsletter for the parishes of Birch, Layer Breton and Layer Marney. In addition to coverage of Church services and events, it contains news of many other activities and events in the local community, together with articles of general interest. The editor is Sue Walsham.

Circulation: Every month (except January) over 600 copies are printed. These are distributed free of charge to every household in the villages of Birch, Layer Breton and Layer Marney.

Contributing News Items and Articles: News items about local people and events, and articles of local interest, are most welcome. If you have a news item or article to contribute please email the editor:  The deadline for submitting items for publication in a particular month's issue is normally a Friday in the middle of the previous month. For example, the copy deadline for the June issue will be a Friday in mid-May; on the front page of each issue you will find the actual date of the deadline for publication in the following month's issue. The June issue will then be out for delivery at the end of May.

Advertising: Advertising in Parish News is an excellent and cost effective way for local businesses to reach every house in the three villages, every month (except January).

Financing: It has always been the policy that Parish News should go to every house in the villages it serves and therefore no charge is made for it. The editor and distributors receive no payment but, obviously, the costs of paper and printing have to be met. This is done through contributions from the Parochial Church Council, Birch Parish Council and advertisers. Additional donations from individuals are much appreciated.

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The Neighbourhood Constable responsible for the Birch and Layer Neighbourhood is PC Darin (Daz) Patrick (Collar No 71587) who is based at Tiptree Police/Fire Station. His contact details are as follows:
  Telephone: 0300-333-4444 ext 432100 / 487654

Information about Neighbourhood Policing can be found in the 'My Neighbourhood' section of the Essex Police website at

Tiptree Police Station is now located in the Tiptree Fire Station but the Station is not open to the public.

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Post Office - Outreach Service

A twice-weekly Post Office outreach service is available at the Hare & Hounds pub, Layer Breton,
- on Tuesday mornings from 9-00am to 12-30pm and on Thursday afternoons from 1-30pm to 4-30pm.
In addition to the usual postal services, car tax can be paid here.

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Hare + HoundsLayer Breton / Birch: The Hare and Hounds
  Address: Crayes Green, Layer Breton, Colchester CO2 0PN
  Telephone: 01206-330459
Run by Mark and Kerry King, the Hare and Hounds overlooks Layer Breton Heath, on the road from Layer Breton to Layer de la Haye. In addition to the bar, the Hare and Hounds has a restaurant and bed & breakfast lodges - see website for details.
The restaurant is open as follows (last orders to be placed at least 15 minutes before the end of service):
  Lunch: Monday to Friday - 12 noon to 2:30pm; Saturday - 12 noon to 3:00pm; Sunday - 12 noon to 6:00pm.
  Dinner: Monday to Saturday - 6:00pm to 9:00pm.

Layer de la Haye: The Layer Fox
  Address: 2 Malting Green Road, Layer de la Haye, CO2 0JH
  Telephone: 01206-738723
Open Monday to Saturday from 11-30am to 11-00pm, Sunday from 12 noon to 10-30pm.
The restaurant is open Monday to Friday from 12 noon to 2-30pm and from 6-00pm to 9-00pm, Saturday from 12 noon to 9-00pm, Sunday 12 noon to 8-00pm.
The Layer Fox also has four en-suite double bedrooms, each with a walk-in wet room and underfloor heating.

Layer de la Haye: The Donkey & Buskins
  Address: High Road, Layer de la Haye, Colchester CO2 0HU
  Telephone: 01206-734774
The Donkey & Buskins is at the Colchester end of the High Road. As well as the bar, The Donkey also does meals and bed & breakfast accommodation.
In case you are wondering, buskins are coverings for the foot and leg, reaching the calf and usually laced - useful kit for working with a recalcitrant donkey!

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Refuse and Recycling

The normal recycling and refuse collection day for Birch households is TUESDAY.
Recyclables and 'black bag' refuse should be placed on your property boundary, clearly visible, by 7:00am on collection days. Collections for different recyclables alternate weekly, except food waste which is collected weekly, as detailed on the recycling calendars issued each year with Council Tax bills. See also our Recycling Calendar page or phone Colchester Borough Council's Recycling Hotline on 01206-282735.

Domestic refuse, including gardening waste, can also be disposed of (free of charge) at Shrub End Tip which is on your left just as you approach the first roundabout on the way into Colchester from the Zoo. Except on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day, the tip is open every day from 9.00am to 5.00pm, except from mid-October to the end of February when it closes at 4.00pm. Colchester Borough Council has a very active recycling policy. Special skips and bins are provided at Shrub End and other locations for recyclable items such as paper, card, glass, metal, textiles, plastic bottles, garden waste, and oil.

Household Items Drop-Off Service

If you need to throw away household items that aren't collected as part of the regular refuse and recycling collections, they can be disposed of using Colchester Borough Council's 'Household Items Drop-Off Service'. Items are collected from different locations in the Borough on specific Saturdays. Previously known as the Saturday Freighter Service, a refuse vehicle usually visits each location three times a year.

You can take non-recyclable items and garden waste to the refuse vehicle when it visits. Green garden waste should be brought separately so that it can be composted. The following items are NOT ACCEPTED: fridges, freezers and other electrical goods, hazardous waste such as asbestos, batteries, liquids or gas bottles, and commercial refuse.

Details of Drop-Off Service visits to Birch and Layer Breton are available on the Borough Council's website at

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Birch Church of England Aided Primary School is opposite St Peter's Church and was built originally by Charles Gray Round in 1844. In its early days it provided education up to school leaving age and serving a very rural area even included practical horticulture in the curriculum.

These days the school is well equipped to prepare young people for the 21st century. It is a small friendly school where each child's individual personality and needs can be recognised and nurtured. The Headteacher is the Revd Kate Moore. The School's telephone number is 01206-330224. For more information go to the school's website at

Layer de la Haye Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School (Headteacher: Mrs Donna Gaffney) is situated in the High Road next to the Queen Elizabeth II Hall and the recreation field. The school's telephone number is 01206-734249. For more information go to the school's website at

The main Secondary Schools serving the area are:

Stanway School: Headteacher: Mr Jonathan Bland. Tel: 01206-575488. Website

Thurstable School, Tiptree: Headteacher: Mr M A S Bacon. Tel: 01621-816526. Website

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Layer Village Store at Layer de la Haye. Run by Barry and Simone, the shop stocks groceries, confectionery, soft drinks, milk and dairy products, frozen foods, newspapers, greeting cards, pet food and cleaning products. It also has an ATM (cash machine) and is a Paypoint.

Address: 16 Malting Green Road, Layer de la Haye, Colchester CO2 0JH.
Telephone: (01206) 734131
Opening Hours: 7-00am to 8-00pm, seven days a week.

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Village Halls

Birch Memorial Hall is available for village events and private functions. Details of the facilities available, hire charges and booking conditions can be viewed at Enquiries should be addressed to the Bookings Secretary: Mrs Elaine Bowtle (330388).

Layer de la Haye has two Halls side by side. The main one is the Queen Elizabeth II Hall and there is a new one completed in 2015. The Queen Elizabeth II Hall is an attractive, modern and well used building. A large tapestry made by several local residents to mark the Millennium is displayed on one of its walls. For village hall bookings and payments the contact is Mrs Marilyn Moore, telephone 01206-734267. For hall supervision and support the contact is Mrs Jacqui Pudney, telephone 01206-738967.

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Women's Institute

Birch & Layer Breton Women's Institute. Meeting are usually held on the second Thursday of the month at 7.15pm, in Birch Memorial Hall. There is a varied programme of invited speakers and other activities. For more details contact the Secretary, Mrs Carol Ninnim, on 01206-331477. Information about meetings is usually published in Parish News, which is distributed free every month to households in the parishes of Birch, Layer Breton and Layer Marney, and also on the 'What's On' page at

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Page updated: 10 Sep 2020 at 12:07