As indicated by its name, this website has a strong local flavour. It focuses on the villages of Birch, Layer Breton, Layer Marney and Layer de la Haye just to the south of Colchester in Essex (UK). Also the surrounding rural area, which has much of interest to offer, and the historic town of Colchester itself.

Some of the information on this site may be helpful to those moving into the locality, some of it to visitors, and some perhaps to long-established residents.

The Future of Birch Church

St Peter's Church, Birch, has been closed for worship for 27 years.
Proposals for its future are explained on the Future of Birch Church section of this website.

In early February (2017) the Church Commissioners wrote to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government,
asking if he would reconsider the decision to hold a Public Inquiry about the Draft Pastoral Scheme to demolish Birch Church.

On 6th December an official of the Department for Communities and Local Government wrote to the Commissioners
saying the Secretary of State has decided that an inquiry, as originally directed in his decision letter dated 18 July 2014,
remains the appropriate mode of determination in this matter.
The Planning Inspectorate will now be instructed to proceed with the inquiry arrangements.

For more information see the Future of Birch Church section of this website.
Local Amenities and Services

Villages Information
A guide to amenities and services in Birch, Layer Breton, Layer Marney and the surrounding area.
Leisure Time

Places to Go, Things to See

Some suggestions for enjoying 'time out', in our locality.
Colchester Guide


A brief (and very rough) guide.
Local Links:Links to a selection of websites with local content.

Information on a couple of domestic matters —

2017 Recycling Collections Calendar for Birch

The 2017 Recycling Calendar.

If you have not received a copy, or have mislaid it,
visit the page

Recycling Information for Birch.
Domestic Heating Oil

Most of our area is without mains gas so many of us rely on oil central heating. Oil prices are constantly fluctuating and there are significant variations in the prices quoted by different suppliers. See our tips on
Getting a Good Deal.
The page includes tips and information for anyone new to an oil-fired heating system.

And a couple of external websites relating to the locality —

Paxman History Pages

For a hundred years or so the engineering business of Davey, Paxman & Co was one of the largest employers in Colchester and a key contributor to the town's economy. The Company established a strong tradition of engineering innovation. Its products became known and respected around the world. Having previously worked at the Company for fifteen years, I felt it would be very sad if its long and proud history was lost and forgotten.

My extensive Paxman History website at is the fruit of fifteen years of researching and recording the Company's history. Whether your interests are steam engines, large diesel engines or local industrial history, there is plenty here to explore.

The Layer Churches

C of E logo The parishes in our villages are part of the Benefice of Thurstable and Winstree.

On the Layer Churches website you will find details of our three churches, their locations and histories, our services of worship, forthcoming events and so on.

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Page updated: 08 Dec 2017