A VILLAGE near Colchester has been crowned the best in the county.

Messing, which sits between Colchester and Kelvedon, has won Essex Village of the Year at the Rural Community Council of Essex annual meeting.

A presentation of the awards took place at the Chelmsford City Racecourse last night.

Representatives from Messing cum Inworth Parish Council were presented with a cheque for £500 and the Essex & Suffolk Water shield.

Coggeshall came second and received £200, with Helions Bumpstead and Gosfield, near Halstead, in joint third place, each receiving £150.

This year the competition, sponsored by Essex & Suffolk Water and architects Inkpen Downie, was focussed on the efforts of the community.

Villages had to answer just one question: ‘What makes your village special?’

All shortlisted villages were visited by judges and assessed on categories including community facilities and activities, businesses and services, environment and sustainability, community information and new initiatives.

The council’s executive director Nick Shuttleworth said: “Essex Village of the Year highlights the very best of rural Essex.

“We saw some outstanding examples of community initiative and enterprise in all of the prize winning villages.”

Messing has a population of just 250 and the judges were particularly impressed with the amount of community activities.

The parish council provides all residents new to the area with a welcome pack.

The village hall and church host clubs and groups, including farmers’ markets, and The Old Crown pub has a small delicatessen.

A piece of land is being converted into a community orchard and volunteers undertake grass cutting, ground clearance and visit elderly residents.

Two affordable homes have recently been built, and the development included a new car park for the school and community allotments with a bug hotel.

Eight Ash Green won £150 for the Class 2 Essex Village of the Year Class Award.

Fun facts about Messing:

- It has amenities including as a pub, post office and church

- It shares its parish with Inworth, which has a population of around 100

- Messing was named as Essex’s Best Kept Village in 2007 and 2008

- It was the birthplace of Reynold Bush, ancestor to former presidents of the USA, George H W Bush and George W Bush.

- The Saxon name Messing translates to ‘the field of trampling’, relating to a battle between the Romans and Queen Boudicca

- Messing Primary School was built in 1914 and has 12 pupils in each year group.