World famous Wilkin & Sons, better know as Tiptree jam. Have a shop and a tea room on site. The kids will love the strange museum and awesome tractor ride!
Some of my jams come from Tiptree, they have to be my favourite. Tiptree jam is world famous. It’s known for quality, the company even has a royal seal. This means that they can supply the royal family with jam. Now! That has to be saying something! I’m not aware of other jam producers having this status. But when buying jam, this isn’t something I look for. Also, I later found that most of the strawberries at Sainsbury’s get sourced from Tiptree.
I have always known that Tiptree farm was in Essex. But I never knew that they had a tea room, museum and tour. Having found this out, it got added to the list of places to go. Becky and I love a cream tea so Tiptree got bumped to the top of the list. We ended up going the first available weekend. You can see where else we went in August with our first monthly round up.
To be honest, I was expecting it to be bigger, it was still very good. They have the complete history of the family that started, and to this day still, run the farm. They also have some special items that relate to the RAF 100 year anniversary, which is a nice touch. If you love aircraft, then you like our review of Duxford.
All the exhibits have descriptions. So if you were to read every item you could go round the static exhibits in about 20 minutes. All the exhibits as you would expect related to the Farm and the Tiptree brand. Yet, there was one exhibit I couldn’t get my head around, it was a four-legged chicken. I still have no idea why it was there.
One item I found interesting was that Tiptree Farm had its own railway line. This line used to transport goods in and out of the site. It used to run up to the Great Eastern mainline joining at Kelvdon. I wish it was still there, I guess some of the residents of Tiptree feel the same.
Video and Dress Up
After going around the static museum items. There is a video display which lasts around 25 minutes. The video is very informative and worth watching. The only issue with watching the video is seating, they only had 4 seats. So there might be a chance that you’ll have to stand. You could always come back later, as the video is on constant repeat.
For the kids, and I include myself in this statement. There is a corner of the museum where you’re able to dress up in period clothing. We all tried on some outfits and it was fun. But, I would recommend giving them a smell first, as some of them I would not put on.
As well as the museum, there is a chance to go on a tractor ride around the farm. You need to buy the tickets for the tractor ride at the visitor centre shop. Tickets cost £4 each we didn’t have to pay for Ben. At the time of writing children under five are free.
They have two or three tractor tours a day. These take place usually in the afternoon. There is a limit to the number of people who can ride the tractor at one time. So I recommend that you buy the tickets as soon as you arrive. The tractor tours are not every day and change during the year, so check before you visit here.
I would recommend that you get there at least 10 minutes before the tour is about to start. This is so that you’re able to get the seats near the front of the carriage.
During the Tractor Tour
The tour is supposed to last around 40 minutes, in reality, it was around 30 minutes. This isn’t a massive deal, as it could vary on the number of questions asked, and what’s happening on the farm that day. While on the tour you’re taken through the fields and see all the fruit either being grown or picked. I have never seen so many strawberries before. It also smelt amazing!
For some of the younger children who are not actually listening to the tour guide. At the start, everyone gets an activity sheet, although it is more for the children. This activity sheet is more like an eye spy task, for children to find along the tour. The activity sheet includes things such as different fruits and birds to find. Ben held the sheet until he decided to try and eat it. So I played along instead.
Near the end of the tour, after you have been through all the fields and making your way back to the visitor centre. You also get some strawberries picked from the farm that day to eat. This was actually the first time Ben had solid food, and now he loves strawberries.
Tiptree Tea Room
The tea room at the Tiptree visitor centre is cute. It’s decorated with vintage posters dotted around. There is plenty of seating in the tea room, with lots of space between the tables. We were able to fit Ben and his pushchair next to our table without being in the way of others.
There is also an outside seating area, made of decking and has umbrellas to provide shade. Again all accessible.
We did not know at the time that breakfast was an option. So missed out on that, it would have been a nice treat. But, we were in time for lunch.
We decided to go with the cream tea, as that is actually the main reason we came in the first place. The cream tea was well priced, for £6.75 you get two scones, jam, clotted cream and a pot of tea. An added bonus is that the scones are huge!
Everyone likes to see what other people are ordering. Looking around, as we are noisy and love food. The portions looked a fair size and the food all made fresh to order. Next time I will be going much earlier so I can have breakfast and lunch! You can see the various menus for Tiptree here.
No Childrens Menu
The only issue I would have with Tiptree visitor centre is the tea room. They do not provide a children menu. This was not an issue for us, as Ben is only 6 months old. Yet for some families, this should take this account, as the meals are not cheap.
The shop as you would expect to sell jam. But, that’s not all, they have a variety of things on offer. Most of these are local, we purchased a salt pig. This salt pig was from Maldon, which is down the road, and home to famous Maldon Salt.
They sell different types of jam, every type you could imagine. From large jars to single servings; the type you find in hotels. While in the shop, I discovered that they also make table sauces and chutneys. I love buying different table sauces. Some might consider that strange, but there is a sauce for everything. Some of the sauces have cute names. One tomato sauce called “Quiet Hot, Tomato Sauce“, that made me chuckle.
You’re also able to buy gift sets, which make nice presents. One of which was a case full of different single servings of jam and other preserves.
The visitor centre is well equipped for families. As mentioned before there is plenty of parking, with the bays being generous in size. The entrance of the visitor centre has a ramp. Which is important for wheelchair and pushchair access.
They have baby changing facilities, which are clean and well laid out. The baby change room is also large enough for you to take a pushchair inside if you need. There are also accessible disabled toilets.
The tractor ride might cause some issues, as there didn’t seem to be an accessible way to board the trailer. As for buggies, it is very close to the car park, so pack it away in the car; this is what we did.
We left around 10 am to get there before lunch. It’s not a great distance from our home in Harlow but still wanted to beat the traffic. Tiptree Farm and visitor centre is near Chelmsford and not far from Colchester. The nearest train station is Kelvedon, which is on the Great Eastern Main Line. This requires you to get a bus to Tiptree from the train station.
Arriving at the visitor centre, there was plenty of parking. There were many disabled bays as well. There isn’t any parent and child parking bay. But all parking is close to the visitor centre and generous in size. I had no issue getting Ben out of his child seat and into the pushchair.
Planning Your Visit
If you are planning to visit Tiptree, then you should spend some time planning your trip. The tractor rides are only available on certain days during the season, and at set times on those days. So a good idea is to plan to get to Tiptree at around 11:00 am, then buy the tickets for the tractor ride straight away. Thus avoiding the disappointment of missing the tractor ride.
While waiting for the tractor ride, if you were lucky enough to get the 1:30 pm slot. You will be able to fit in the museum, then some cream tea or lunch. This will leave some time to get in line for the tractor tour. Then visit the shop afterwards before leaving for the day.
We had a lovely time while visiting Tiptree, it is a great place to go for a chilled out day. Even though Tiptree only takes a couple of hours to get around, we would recommend it.
Tiptree Jam Farm and visitor centre is a great day out. It might not be great for very young children, as there isn’t much for them to do. Unless they are crazy about tractors!
We will be going back to Tiptree, as the tractor tour was fun, and Ben loves a tractor ride. Also, the shop is very well stocked and has items that you can’t buy elsewhere. Tiptree is a fantastic place to get a cream tea, so I will be treating myself to that again. You can see where else we went in August with our first monthly round up.