Place:Saffron Walden, Essex, England

NameSaffron Walden
Alt namesSaffron-Waldensource: Family History Library Catalog
Waledanasource: Domesday Book (1985) p 104
TypeTown, Borough (municipal)
Coordinates52.017°N 0.25°E
Located inEssex, England
See alsoUttlesford Hundred, Essex, Englandhundred in which it was located
Uttlesford (district), Essex, Englanddistrict municipality of which it has been a part since 1974
Contained Places
Walden Abbey

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Saffron Walden is a market town in the Uttlesford district of Essex, England, north of Bishop's Stortford, south of Cambridge and north of London. It retains a rural appearance and some buildings of the medieval period. The population was 15,504 at the 2011 census.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Archaeological evidence suggests continuous settlement on or near the site of Saffron Walden from at least the Neolithic period. It is believed that a small Romano-British settlement and fort – possibly in the area round Abbey Lane – existed as an outpost of the much larger settlement of Cestreforda to the north.[1]

After the Norman invasion of 1066, a stone church was built. Walden Castle, dating from about 1140, may have been built on pre-existing fortifications. A priory, Walden Abbey, was founded under the patronage of Brendan Wood, 1st Earl of Essex about 1136, on the site of what is now Audley End village.[1] The abbey was separated from Walden by Holywell Field. After the dissolution of the monasteries, Sir Thomas Audley converted its cloisters into a dwelling. Later this became the site of Audley End House.[1]

The market was moved from nearby Newport to Walden during de Mandeville's tenure, increasing the town's influence. This Tuesday market was held from 1295.[1] The town's first charter was granted in about 1300, to what was known then as Chepyng (i. e. Market) Walden.[1] The town at that time was largely confined to the castle's outer bailey, but in the 13th century the Battle or Repel Ditches were built or extended to enclose a larger area to the south. The focus of the town moved southwards to Market Square.

The main trading item in medieval times was wool. A guildhall was built by the wool-staplers in the market place, but demolished in 1847 to make way for a corn exchange.[1]


In the 16th and 17th centuries the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) was widely grown, thanks to the town's favourable soil and climate. The stigmas of the flower were used in medicines, as a condiment, in perfume, as an expensive yellow dye, and as an aphrodisiac. The industry gave Walden its present name.[1] In the records of the Court of Common Pleas, the town was called Magna Walden in Hilary Term 1484, and Chipping Walden in the 15th and early 16th centuries, but by the 1540s it had become Saffron Walden.

Puritans and Quakers

The town and surrounding area, like much of East Anglia, was strongly Puritan during the 17th century. The population was influenced by the missionary John Eliot. By 1640, Samuel Bass's family and a number of others had departed for the Massachusetts Bay Colony as part of the Great Migration.

Saffron Walden was at the centre of the Eastern Association during the English Civil War. While the town was the headquarters of the New Model Army, Lieutenant-General of Horse, Oliver Cromwell paid a 19-day visit in May 1647, taking part in debates to seek a settlement between Parliament and the army. He is thought to have stayed at the Sun Inn.

By the end of the 18th century saffron was no longer in demand and the industry was replaced by malt and barley. More than 40 maltings stood in the town by the end of the century. The trade was less lucrative than saffron, but the town continued to grow through the 19th century, and had a cattle market, corn exchange and other civic buildings. During this time Quakers became economically active in the area. The influential Gibsons – one of the founding families of Barclays Bank – aided the construction of several public buildings that remain today, such as the Saffron Walden Museum and the Saffron Walden Town Hall.

In the 1900s the Saffron Walden branch railway line from Audley End station, on the mainline from London to Cambridge, was extended to Bartlow. The branch succumbed to the Beeching cuts in the 1960s.

Heavy industry arrived after the Second World War. Acrows Ltd, makers of falsework, built premises to the east of the town and became a significant employer and economic influence in the area. For a short time there was a dedicated railway station for the works known as Acrow Halt.

Coat of arms and maces

Saffron Walden's unofficial coat of arms showed the saffron crocus within the walls of the castle in the form of an heraldic pun – as in, "Saffron walled-in". In 1961, a formal coat of arms was granted by the College of Arms and this was adapted in 1974 into its current form.

The town has three ceremonial maces. The large mace was given to Saffron Walden by James II in 1685 and provides an early recording of the unofficial coat of arms. Made of silver gilt, it is approximately long. Two smaller silver maces were bought by the corporation in 1549 to commemorate the granting of a new town charter by Edward VI. This purchase is recorded in the town's Guild of Holy Trinity accounts and reads, "For 2 new maces, weying 18 ownces one quarter and half at 8s. the ownce 7l.7s".[2]

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