Stansted Mountfitchet is a large Essex village close to the Hertfordshire border and the Hertfordshire town of Bishop’s Stortford. It has long stood on important lines of travel and communication – the Roman road of Stane Street, the Great Newmarket Road (now the Cambridge Road), the Great Eastern Railway, the M11 and finally Stansted Airport. This has made it less isolated and more prosperous than many other rural communities.
At times its people have played important roles in the history of the country as a whole. Richard de Montfichet was present at Runnymede in 1215 and was one of the 25 barons chosen to make sure that King John carried out the undertakings given in Magna Carta. During the Civil War, Stansted’s sympathies lay with Parliament rather than the King, and the village was a recruiting centre for the Parliamentary army. In the late Victorian period, the village was firm in its support of Gladstone’s Liberals and Irish Home Rule and became known as ‘Radical Stansted’.
The dominant theme of this book is one of lively engagement with the wider world, economically, socially, religiously and politically. Stansted has been the least parochial of rural parishes. Unlike many of the villages around, it has been very much on the beaten track.