Saffron Walden is a picturesque, medieval town, in north-west Essex, just 15 miles south of Cambridge. It has a rich heritage of old buildings reflecting its wealth as a rural market town.
There are many interesting historic buildings in the town. At the heart lies St Mary’s Church, the largest parish church in Essex. Fine examples of elaborate moulded plasterwork (pargetting), can be seen on the Old Sun Inn and the houses in Castle Street & Bridge Street. Also of note are the Eight Bells, the timber-framed Cross Keys, and the medieval building located at 1 Myddylton Place.
Nearby, Saffron Walden Museum is of particular interest. The collections are housed in one of the oldest purpose-built museum buildings in the country, completed in 1835. It has everything from mammoth tusks to mummies, from an early Tudor bed to a natural history museum gallery. In the grounds of the museum are the ruins of the Castle Keep which dates back to the 1130s or 40s.
Bridge End Garden is a real jewel and an environment of great charm on the north side of Saffron Walden. Careful restoration has replicated gardening techniques and designs typical of the Victorian era and brought the garden back to its full splendour. The wonderful hedge maze is of particular appeal to children. The path into the garden passes the Fry Art Gallery which houses a collection of works by a Great Bardfield group of artists who settled in the Essex countryside in the 1930s.
The attractive Common is the oldest of Saffron Walden’s open spaces and on its eastern side is the largest turf labyrinth still surviving in Europe. Children of all ages enjoy following the ‘path’ through the turf, which winds for about one mile within a circle 100 feet (30.5 meters) in diameter.
Pop into the Tourist Information Centre for a free copy of the Saffron Walden Town Trail, or click here for the downloadable version.