Saffron Walden

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Template:GBdot Saffron Walden (Template:Gbmapping) is a small market town in the district of Uttlesford in Essex, England, 12 miles North of Bishop's Stortford, and about 15 miles South of Cambridge. The town retains a picturesque, rural appearance and many old buildings dating from the medieval period onwards. The parish had a population of 14873 in 2001.

The town has the largest parish church in Essex, St. Mary and the Virgin, which mainly dates from the 15th century. It is 183 feet (56 m) long and has a spire, built in 1832, which is 193 feet (59 m) high.

Saffron Walden also features the ruins of the 12th century Walden Castle. Nearby is the Maze, a series of circular excavations cut into the turf of the common. It is the largest turf maze in England, the main part being about 100 feet (30 m) in diameter. The earliest record of it was in 1699, and it has been extensively restored several times, most recently in 1979. Another tourist attraction is Audley End, a manor house built by the Earl of Suffolk in the 17th century. At the north edge of the town are Bridge End Gardens, which date from the 1840's and were originally laid out by Francis Gibson, a member of the locally well-known Gibson family who were eminent Quakers, bankers and brewers.

Formerly known as Chipping Walden, its current name dates from the sixteenth century. It is a combination of the old pre-Norman manor of Waldana and the saffron crocuses which were commercially grown in the area until the 18th century. The plant was used for medicine, dye and as a spice.

Sir Thomas Smyth, a 16th century scholar and diplomatist, was born here, whilst Henry Winstanley, creator of the first Eddystone Lighthouse was born in nearby Littlebury.

External links

  • Community website, which also has pictures and a history: saffireweb.net (http://www.saffireweb.net/)
  • Bridge End Gardens, the Uttlesford website has some useful information: Bridge End Gardens (http://www.uttlesford.gov.uk/bridge+end+garden/default.htm)
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