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50 Years Of Channels Estate In Chelmsford

From its origins as a nine-hole golf course, to now offering fine dining, a wedding venue to remember and more, Channels Estate shows why it’s the jewel in Chelmsford’s crown

In Absolutely Essex’s very short lifespan so far, we have ventured to Channels Estate twice – first to highlight it as a destination venue, second to meet head chef Dan Pitts – but even after two features we had barely scratched the surface of what this Chelmsford gem offers. As Katie Squire, Channels’ general manager, says, there’s a lot to cover. “We have continually evolved over nearly 50 years. Times change and you have to move with them if you want to stay successful.”

Originally farmland, the Channels Estate was purchased by the Stubbings family and opened in 1974 as a nine-hole golf course. Four generations on and it’s still a family-run business with a lot more on its plate. “We now have our beautiful new look bar and brasserie, our stunning 17th century Essex barn for weddings and events, and the gorgeous Channels Hotel,” Squire says. “We are now at the heart of the new Channels community that has been created around us.”

The food, as already mentioned, is rightly gaining much attention. “Dan’s passion for food is extraordinary,” enthuses Zoe Strong, Channels’ restaurant manager. “Our waiting staff learn so much from each menu launch and he keeps us on our toes with the most amazing ingredients, with many grown in our own vegetable garden. I believe we have a very unique restaurant with a passion for giving our guests a dining experience full of friendly staff along with a menu that can be enjoyed by all.”

Zoe Sara Dan Katie Fred
Dan Pitts and some of the team at Channels Estate

The food plays a key role in making Channels Estate a one-stop-shop for any kind of event. With weddings in particular back in vogue thanks to the easing of Covid restrictions, it’s been great to see their Essex barn back in use. “It was a very difficult year last year,” Squire says on 2020. “Having to constantly postpone weddings was heart-breaking for couples, but at last we are back in full swing and have a lot to catch up on. The Essex barn has its own exclusive beautifully large garden, and you can go all out on decorating as you like, or keep it simple as the barn always looks stunning.”

The on-site hotel also has a new treat in store. “The hotel has opened The Retreat,” Squire explains, “which includes your own private kitchen, salon, living space, hot tub and three double bedrooms. The perfect way to start your wedding!” The hotel rooms, too, all have a story to tell, being designed individually. “That’s because Channels is unique,” Squire says on the reasoning behind that. “That follows through in everything we do. The rooms all have an individual design, offering every customer a slightly different experience, which is something to talk about over breakfast in the morning with other guests.”

Weddings aside, the team at Channels are clearly making up for lost time. “We have plenty of social events taking place in the brasserie, so there is always something to come to Channels for,” Squire says. “With Christmas just around the corner, the Channels Estate will be getting ready for our ever-popular Breakfast with Santa, and this year we are also doing Lunches with Santa.” You can see why Santa himself is so portly.

Channels has come far since the days of digging the land for sand and gravel. It looks to be an exciting end to 2021, but for all the changes over the years, Squire points out the one thing that will always remain resolutely the same. “It’s the family feel you get when you visit,” she says. “Everyone is made to feel welcome and as though you are part of the family. Our staff are so welcoming and many have worked for the company for years, which says a lot in itself.”


Pratts Farm Lane East, Chelmsford, CM3 3PT

01245 44005

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