Saffron Walden: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 52°01′34″N 0°14′42″E / 52.0262°N 0.2449°E / 52.0262; 0.2449

Saffron Walden
Saffron Walden is located in Essex
Saffron Walden

 Saffron Walden shown within Essex
Population 15,095 
OS grid reference TL541387
District Uttlesford
Shire county Essex
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district CB10-11
Dialling code 01799
Police Essex
Fire Essex
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament Saffron Walden
List of places: UK • England • Essex

Saffron Walden is a medium-sized market town in the Uttlesford district of Essex, England. It is located 12 miles (19 km) north of Bishop's Stortford, 15 miles (24 km) south of Cambridge and approx 45 miles (72 km) north of London. The town retains a rural appearance and many very old buildings dating from the medieval period onwards[citation needed] In 2001 the parish had a population of 15,095 although this has increased marginally since then.



There has been a village on or near the site of present day Saffron Walden since before the Roman occupation of Britain[citation needed] when Bronze and Iron Age tribes settled in the area. After the Romans withdrew from the country, a flourishing Anglo-Saxon town was established[citation needed]

With the Norman invasion of 1066, a stone church was built. The castle was constructed c.1116[citation needed] A Priory, later to become Walden Abbey, was also founded under the patronage of Geoffrey de Mandeville, first Earl of Essex around 1136. The abbey was separated from the town of Walden by Holywell Field, which was enclosed in the sixteenth century to form part of the park of Audley End, the house of Sir Thomas Audley, who converted the abbey cloisters to a dwelling c. 1538-44[citation needed] The inner or Little Court of the seventeenth-century house corresponds to one of the cloisters.

The basement is what remains of the Walden Castle

In 1141 the area’s market was transferred to the town from nearby Newport, further increasing the area’s influence[citation needed] The town’s first charter was granted in 1300[citation needed] This early town was known as Chipping Walden. The town was at first 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 new larger area to the south. The focus of the town moved southwards to Market Square.

In the medieval period the primary trade in Saffron Walden was in wool[citation needed] However, in the 16th century and 17th century the saffron crocus (crocus sativus) became widely grown in the area. The flower was precious, as extract from the stigmas, the saffron, was used in medicines, as a condiment, as a perfume, as an aphrodisiac, and as an expensive yellow dye. This industry gave its name to the town and Chipping Walden became Saffron Walden.

By the end of the 18th century the saffron flower was no longer in such demand, and the flower was replaced by malt and barley. In the 1830s there were more than 30 maltings and breweries running. Although this trade was not so rewarding as the saffron, the town continued to grow throughout the 19th century, having a cattle market and building a library and other civic buildings. During this time Quakers became very active in Saffron Walden, the most influential family being the Gibsons, who aided in the construction of several buildings that remain today, such as the museum[1] and the Town Hall.

The 1900s saw expansion of the Saffron Walden branch railway line that extended from Audley End, on the mainline from london to Cambridge, to Bartlow. This closed with the Beeching cuts in the 1960s. Some light industrial areas to the east, in particular Acrow Ltd, makes of falsework and the south of the town were added to diversify the employment. In the 1980s major expansion of housing estates to the south expanded the housing stock significantly.

Today, Saffron Walden is a flourishing and historic town. Because it has never been sacked or destroyed by fire, many of the buildings, streets and features, especially in the centre of town, date back centuries. Although the 1900s brought many changes and expansion, the character of the town and the valley in which it sits remains strongly intact.

Coat of arms

Saffron Walden did not have an official coat of arms until 1960. Until that date an unofficial coat of arms was used. It is not certain when these arms were first used, although they are engraved on the large mace given to the town in 1685. These arms show the Saffron Crocus within the walls of the castle. They are intended as an heraldic pun - "Saffron walled-in".

In 1961 the Borough Council applied to the College of Arms for a formal coat of arms, which was granted by Letters patent. Following the Local Government reorganisation of 1974 these arms were adapted by the addition of mantling and today, form the official arms of Saffron Walden Town Council.

The official armorial description is:-

"Vert within a representation of town walls having two towers and a Gateway between towers Argent three Saffron Flowers issuant from the battlements of the gateway blown and showing the stamens proper And for the Crest On a Wealth of the Colours Upon a Chapeau Gules turned up Ermine a Lion rampant Azure grasping in the dexter paw a representation of the Ancient Mace of the Borough of Saffron Walden proper"

Sites and buildings of interest

A diagram of Saffron Walden turf maze, an unusual variation on the medieval labyrinth pattern

now owned by English Heritage and are open to the public. During the summer months; several concerts which help make up the BBC Proms are held here. It is usually an evening of music varying from classical to rock to jazz followed by a fireworks display. Another annual fireworks display is held on the Saturday nearest to the 5 November. This event is organised by the Round Table historical interest and the Town Hall are centred. Market Days are Tuesdays and Saturdays.


The town is administered by Saffron Walden Town Council, a council of 15 members. It is currently controlled by the Conservative Party. The town's mayor is Conservative Councillor Doug Perry a retired police officer.[2] The Town Clerk is Malcolm White who has held the post since 1976. The youngest Councillor ever elected to the council was David-James Sadler at 21 years old in 2007.[3] The Liberal Democrats are the only opposition in Saffron Walden.

The town is divided into three wards: Audley (named after Audley End house) represents the west area of Saffron Walden including the village of Audley End; Castle takes its name from Saffron Walden Castle and represents the north area of Saffron Walden, the village of Little Walden and the large rural areas north of the Town; Shire (formerly Plantation) represents the southern part of Saffron Walden. Sewards End was once a ward, but it has recently become its own Parish.


The ceremonial maces are derived from weapons of war. Today's ceremonial Maces are a highly ornamental successor to the prehistoric club or bludgeon.

The mace was adopted as a special weapon of the Serjeants-at-Arms appointed first by Philip II of France (1180–1223) to protect him from suspected assassins when he returned to France. A similar bodyguard was instituted by Richard I of England. Curiously the Mace was also the particular weapon of a Bishop or Churchman when he took the field in war. Apparently the argument was that whilst it was not considered appropriate for a man of God to shed another person's blood with a sword or battle axe, to crack his skull was permitted.

Over time, the officers allowed to attend on sheriffs, bailiffs and mayors gradually became less of an armed personal bodyguard, and more a messenger to convey the Royal orders to local authorities; so the mace with Royal Arms inscribed on it which he carried became the obvious and visible token of Royal authority.

In the course of time, the hitting end of the mace fell out of use and the handle end increased in importance. This end became highly decorated and the Maces became no longer an offensive weapon but a symbol of authority. Today's ceremonial Maces are therefore now carried, so to speak, upside down.


The large mace

The large mace was given to Saffron Walden by James II in 1685. The mace, which is made of silver gilt is approximately 4 feet (1.2 m) long. Around its head are the symbols of the four constituent countries of the British Isles; the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland, the harp of Wales and the tricorn of Ireland. On the main stem are engraved the coat of Arms of the town as they existed in 1685.

The mace is carried in front of the Mayor on all ceremonial occasions by the Town's macebearer. The present macebearer is Mark Gilbert.

Two small maces

The two small maces are made of silver, measure approximately 9 inches (22.86 cm) and weigh about 2 lbs (900 g) each. The maces were purchased by the Corporation in 1549 to commemorate in that year the granting to the town of a new charter by Edward VI. The purchase of the maces is recorded in the Guild of Holy Trinity Accounts and reads, "For 2 new maces, weying 18 ownces one quarter and half at 8s. the ownce 71.7s".

The two small maces used to be carried by the Serjeant-at-Arms, but during the last war this tradition ceased. The maces are kept on view in the town's museum.

Hymn tune

Saffron Walden is the name of a hymn tune, often associated with the hymn Just as I am. It was written by Arthur Henry Brown (1830–1926) from Essex.[4][5] He wrote many hymn tunes, which he often named after his favourite places, but there is no recorded reason for his naming of this tune.

Literary references

Saffron Walden is referred to in a Blackadder sketch, and by Lawrence Durrell in Scobie's Common Usage of his novel "Balthazar" (1958): "Saffron Walden, meaning 'male brothel', ex.: 'He was caught in a Saffron Walden, old man, covered in jam.'"

The name of the town is also mentioned in a sketch of "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" (Series 3 Episode 1, "Birwhale the Avenger").

The character Rachel Riley fictionally inhabits the area in 'My So-Called Life' and sequels by Joanna Nadin.

The town is also mentioned in Sebastian Faulk's book "Engleby" and in Carol Shield's "Larry's Party".

In the Jimmy Coates series there is a character named Saffron Walden. This may be a direct reference to the town.

Notable births and residents

Twin towns

Saffron Walden is twinned with the following town:

See also


Airfield Guide

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SAFFRON WALDEN, a market-town and municipal borough in the Saffron Walden parliamentary division of Essex, England, beautifully situated near the Cam in a valley surrounded by hills, on a branch of the Great Eastern railway, 431 m. N.N.E. from London. Pop. (1901) 5896. It has a somewhat ancient appearance and possesses a spacious market-place. Of the old castle, dating probably from the 12th century, but in part protected by much earlier earthworks, the keep and a few other portions still remain. Near it are a series of curious circular excavations in the chalk, called the Maze, of unknown date or purpose. The earthworks west and south of the town are of great extent; there was a large Saxon burial-ground here. The church of St Mary the Virgin, a beautiful specimen of the Perpendicular style, dating from the reign of Henry VII., but frequently repaired and restored, contains the tomb of Lord Audley, chancellor to Henry VIII. There is an Edward VI. grammar school, occupying modern buildings. The town possesses a museum with good archaeological and natural history collections, a literary institute and a horticultural society. The benevolent institutions include the hospital and the Edward VI. almshouses. There is a British and Foreign School Society's training college for mistresses. In the neighbourhood is the fine mansion of Audley End, built by Thomas, 1st earl of Suffolk, in 1603 on the ruins of the abbey, converted in 11 9 0 from a Benedictine priory founded by Geoffrey de Mandeville in 1136. Brewing, malting and iron-founding are carried on. The borough is under a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Area, 7502 acres.

Saffron Walden (Waledana) was almost certainly fortified by the Britons, and probably by some earlier race. The town corporation grew out of the Gild of the Holy Trinity, which was incorporated under Henry VIII., the lord of the town, in 1514. It was dissolved under Edward VI., and a charter was obtained for Walden, appointing a treasurer and chamberlain and twentyfour assistants, all elective, who, with the commonalty, formed the corporation. In 1694 William and Mary made Walden a free borough, with a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 town councillors. The corporation became a local board of health under the act of 1858, and a municipal borough in 1875. The culture of saffron was the most characteristic industry at Walden from the reign of Edward III. until its gradual extinction about 1768.

<< Saffron

Safranine >>


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address