A VILLAGE has been crowned the best in the county.

Peldon 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.

Representatives from the village were presented with a cheque for £500 and the winner’s shield.

Alresford and Great Bardfield came joint second and received £200 each, with Great Tey in fourth, receiving £100.

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 the prize winning villages.

“Peldon, in particular, demonstrates that it is still possible for a small, relatively isolated rural community to sustain a strong sense of community.”

Peldon has a population of 459 and the judges were impressed with its community activities and initiatives.

It said the new village hall “provides excellent facilities for a wide range of activities, clubs and groups, including the annual village pantomime”.

The judges also praised the outdoor community activities including the Peldon festival, garden concerts and gardening club. Volunteers run a lunch club and car service to the farm shop.

Alresford was praised for its strong sense of community, its efforts to created a neighbourhood plan and a community garden space.

Great Tey was credited for the way it has tackled the loss of services including running a part-time post office in the village hall.

Peldon and Alresford also won a further £150 for winning their respective categories.