Elmstead Division is made up of three Districts:
There are Rainbow, Brownie and Guide Units within the District, as a well as the Oyster Rangers, which is a District Ranger Unit. We also have the Brightlingsea Trefoil Guild.
Brightlingsea District covers Great Bentley, which lays claim to having the largest village green in England and Brightlingsea, which is well known for its oysters, sailing events and for being a popular seaside resort. Its main claim to fame is for being a limb of the Cinque Port of Sandwich, which was established in 1353 when Brightlingsea was renown for its ship building. It is the only Cinque port on the north side of the Thames with the major ones being in Kent and Sussex (Sandwich, Dover, Hythe, Romney and Hastings, plus Winchelsea and Rye who joined later). The Brightlingsea Museum vividly illustrates the story of the town.
Manningtree has Rainbow, Brownie and Guides Units within the District, which is comprised of the villages of Ardleigh, Bradfield, Dedham and Lawford, and at one time, Great Bromley was also part of the District, although sadly, no longer has any Units there. Again, we have a Ranger Unit within the District and they are called the Wild Foxes. It also boasts a Trefoil Guild - the Stour Valley Guild.
Manningtree is the smallest town in England, although another town is trying to usurp it. The Manningtree Ox is mentioned in Shakespeare’s Henry V, and Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General began his career in Manningtree by condemning a coven of witches. This is only anecdotal, but we have been told that Ardleigh is the largest parish in Essex, except when the tide goes out.... and then St. Osyth becomes the largest parish. Bradfield is reputed to have a smugglers’ tunnel from the Church to the river. Dedham is famous for its connections with the (mainly landscape) artist, John Constable and artist, Sir Alfred Munnings, famous for his paintings of horses. Descendants of the family who used to live there in Sherman’s Hall, emigrated to New England and the famous Civil War general, William Sherman, is the best known of this distinguished family. Margaret (Lady) Thatcher used to work as a scientist in chemical research at Lawford Place, in Lawford.
Our last District is Wyvenford, made up of Alresford, Elmstead and Wivenhoe. Again, we have Rainbow, Brownie and Guide Units within the District, but no District Rangers. We also have the Wyvenford Trefoil Guild.
Alresford is known for its creek and gravel pits, whilst Elmstead is home to the famous Beth Chatto Gardens. Wivenhoe seems to be bursting at the seams with artists, sculptors and potters; singers, song-writers and musicians; poets, playwrights and actors. The Nottage Institute was created in 1896 to teach navigation and seamanship to professional seamen, fisherman and yachtsmen. Essex University is also situated in Wivenhoe. Of course, Wivenhoe is most famous at the moment, as being the home of our County Commissioner, and it has to be said, that over the years, Elmstead Division has been widely represented at County level, either by County Commissioners or Presidents, as well as County Advisers.
We have a very active Girlguiding community within Elmstead and if you'd like to get in touch, please use our contact form. For further information on joining one of our units please visit the How to Find Us section of our website.