Saffron is coming back to Saffron Walden as we celebrate the costly ‘red-gold’ spice, source of its unique name and historic prosperity.

Join us for a day of events for all the family. There will be historic re enactors (including a ‘Royal Visitor’ from the Tudor court), cooking and dyeing with saffron, stalls selling saffron products, music from Joanna Eden and other entertainments. And of course, street food and drink!

How to Find Saffron Day

Saffron Day is being held in Market Place, Saffron Walden (CB10 1ES). This area and surrounding streets will be closed to vehicles during the event.

If arriving by car, please park in one of the town centre car parks. These include:

Swan Meadow Car Park (CB10 1DA)

The Common Car Park (CB10 1JG)

Where to Park

Parking is free on Sundays.

A list of local taxi companies can be seen here: SWTIC Local Taxi Services

The Common Car Park

Swan Meadow Car Park

Rose and Crown Walk Car Park

Fairycroft Road Car Park

Audley End Station Car Park

Catons Lane Long Stay

Programme / List of events

Events in front of the Town Hall

11.00 to 11.30 Queen Elizabeth the First: a Visit to Saffron Walden
12:10 to 12.40 Music by The Garden Youth Music Group
13:00 to 13:20 Thaxted Morris Men
14.00 to 14.20 Thaxted Morris Men
15:10 to 15:40 Music by Joanna Eden
16:00 A farewell to Queen Elizabeth the First as Saffron Day closes

Events at locations within Market Place

11.00 onwards A step-back to Elizabethan England: historical enactors demonstrating their craft
11.30 onwards
at The Dyers Tent
Children’s activity with Hana Mallett
11.40 to 12.00
at The Cooking Tent
Cooking with Saffron with Sam Bilton, food historian
12.45 to 13.00
at English Saffron
‘The reintroduction of Saffron
Growing in Essex’ with David Smale
13.00 to 13.45
at the ‘Royal Pavilion’
An Audience with Queen Elizabeth the First: come and meet the Queen
13.30 to 14.00
at The Cooking Tent
Cooking with Saffron with Sam Bilton, food historian
14.30 to 14.50
at The ‘Dyers Tent
Dyeing with Saffron with Patience Beaumont
14.50 to 15.10
at English Saffron
‘The reintroduction of Saffron Growing in Essex’ with David Smale
15.00 to 15.30
at the ‘Royal Pavilion’
An Audience with Queen Elizabeth the First: come and meet the Queen

Events elsewhere

12.00 to 14.00
at the Old Sun Inn, Church Street
Pargeting: Watch or Have a Go with pargeter Anna Kettle

Tickets available on the day from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) stand in Market Place

11.00 to 17.00
At Saffron Walden Museum
Saffron-related exhibits and artworks will be on display. Admission fee £2.50 adults
Patience Beaumont Patience Beaumont is an expert dyer, including dyeing silk with saffron. She makes exquisite ties, scarves and bags and cards from pressed flowers.
Sam Bilton Food historian, writer and cook Sam Bilton has been intrigued by spices most of her life. Her first book on the history of gingerbread won a World Gourmand Cookbook award in 2021 and she is a frequent contributor to national magazines, food festivals, television and radio. Her second Fool’s Gold: a History of British Saffron was recently released., Instagram @mrssbilton, Twitter @sjfbilton

Joanna Eden Singer-songwriter Joanna Eden has performed her music all over the world and has supported artists such as Jamie Cullum, Ronan Keating and more recently Van Morrison, Simple Minds and Sir Tom Jones. She is also a renowned singing teacher, her first student being none other than Sam Smith!


The Garden The Garden is a Youth Music Club is a group of talented young musicians led by Joanna Eden and Kevin Sporle.


Hana Mallett Using natural pigments, foraged plants and food waste, Hana Mallett at Found Botanical Dyes hand-dyes apparel, accessories and homewares, working with nature to produce beautiful, chemical-free colour on fabric, wool and wood.

Instagram @foundbotanicaldyes

Thaxted Morris Men Founded in 1911, Thaxted Morris Men is the oldest revival side in the country and regularly dance out during the summer.


Queen Elizabeth the First Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the first of that name, has accepted the generous invitation of the people of Saffron Walden to visit. Her Majesty wishes to confirm the new name of Saffron Walden, used by the town previously named Chepying Walden, since 1549. After the presentation, there will be times through the day, for Audience with Her Majesty for any who wish to meet the Queen.
A step back to Elizabethan England A few people from 16th century Saffron Walden will be demonstrating their crafts. Speak to them of what they do and how they live in the time of Good Queen Bess.
David Smale David Smale, and his family business, English Saffron, have been growing saffron in Essex since 2004, winning a Guild of Fine Food award and Essex Life Food and Drink Hero 2017. He has appeared on TV and radio and in the national press and magazines.

See Instagram @english_saffron

History of Saffron in Saffron Walden

According to tradition saffron appeared in England “at the time of Edward the Third” (1327-77) with the ‘corms’ or bulbs arriving from the Near East in a pilgrim’s staff. Tax records indicate saffron cultivation in Walden in 1444, but it was in the 16th century that the town became the country’s major centre for production of the spice. ‘Chepyng’ or ‘Market’ Walden became known as Saffron Walden from this time.

The stylized crocus flowers shown on a charter of 1514 issued to a Walden guild indicate the increasing importance of saffron. In the same year the town’s annual fair was established on October 21st, probably coinciding with the saffron harvest.

Presentations of saffron were given to distinguished visitors, including Queen Elizabeth the First, but by the mid-18th century it was in decline. It disappeared from the Walden area by about 1790 for various reasons including reduced medicinal use and cheaper foreign imports, but was not forgotten. Today the flower is a prominent logo of numerous local organisations and businesses. It is also being grown again in Essex, including in the town’s Bridge End Garden.

Saffron was a high value crop, grown in small sheltered ‘gardens’ and harvested by women and children, small hands being adept at separating the orange stigmas or ‘chives’ from the crocus flower.

Health and Safety

COVID-19 We continue to monitor UK Government advice and regulation regarding COVID-19. Saffron Day is being held outside and hand sanitizer will be available.

However, if you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, if you have a high temperature or do not feel well, we politely request for you to not attend

FIRST AID First Aid is available at the Jubilee Medical Solutions point behind the Town Hall between 10.30 am and 4.30pm. If you feel unwell, please notify a steward.
LOST CHILD POINT The Lost Child Point is at the Information Point/Heritage Development Group gazebo in Market Place.
TOILETS Public Toilets are available in Hill Street, less than 5 minutes walk from Market Place.

Sponsors and Supporters

Saffron Day is being organised by the Saffron Walden Heritage Development Group with
support from Saffron Walden Town Council.

With thanks to our sponsers and other supporters;