Although located only 48 miles from London’s Trafalgar Square, Osea Island is just 5 miles east of Maldon, nestling in the Blackwater estuary on the Essex coast, giving visitors to the island the impression that it is hundreds, if not thousands, of miles further away.
Osea Island is only accessible by land via a mile long causeway, but only at low tide and thus for 4 hours in every 12. It is the ’splendid isolation’ of this 550-acre private island that is one of its greatest features and strengths; conditions that have helped its owner Nigel Frieda transform it into a hugely successful wedding, events and holiday destination. Petersham Group has been working with Nigel and his Osea Island team to develop the future plans for this idyllic destination.
Recent reporting by the BBC and press unveiled the plans by Loch Lomond Seaplanes to establish a seaplane service to enable visitors to Osea Island to arrive (and leave) by seaplane! See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-35803595 This is just one of many fascinating initiatives being explored to enhance still further Osea Island’s burgeoning events business.
The island has been inhabited for at least 5,000 years. There is evidence of Neolithic villages and the Romans built the causeway, a salt works and a pottery. As with nearby Mersea Island, Osea was full of oysters, which the Romans so loved; maybe that’s what attracted them to settle here too. After the Norman Conquest the island became the property of William the Conqueror’s nephew, and later passed to the earls of Essex, Sussex, Gloucester and March.
Fast forward to the 20th century and with the outbreak of World War I the island was requisitioned by the Admiralty. With the transfer of ownership to the Admiralty, and during both the first and second world wars, Osea Island saw service as a top secret naval base ‘SS Osea’ (the ship that never sails) initially as a test base for seaplanes and a base for up to 40 Coastal Motor Boats, often referred to as ‘submarine chasers’ or ‘scimmers’, and then as a top secret torpedo manufacturing base, as evidenced by the munitions store which remains, albeit now substantially re-furbished and renamed the ‘Bomb Factory’ – a magnificent function space for up to 500 seated, or 1,500 standing.
Osea Island’s magic is wonderfully illustrated at http://www.oseaisland.co.uk