Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for SAFFRON-WALDEN

SAFFRON-WALDEN, a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Essex. The town stands at theterminus of a branch railway of the Great Eastern, 2 mileslong from a junction at Wendon, opened in Nov. 1865; is1 mile E of the river Granton, and 44½ N N E of London; took the first half of its name from the ancient cultivation of saffron around it, the latter part, from the words Weald and Dun, signifying "a forest" and "a hill; "dates from a period prior to the time of Edward the Confessor; was the head of an honour of 118 lordships held, in the 12th century, by Geoffrey de Mandeville; had acastle in the Saxon times, rebuilt by De Mandeville, and still represented by the keeps and the walls; had also, 1 mile to the west, on the site of Audley-End mansion, a Benedictine priory, founded in 1136 by De Mandeville, made an abbey in 1190, and given at the dissolution to Lord Chancellor Audley; was the scene, in 1252, of atournament at which Ernauld de Montenai was killed; gives the title of Baron Howard de Walden to the family of Ellis; was made a municipal borough by Edward VI.; is governed, under the new act, by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors; is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, and a polling-place; occupies a hill, encompassedwith a valley in the form of a horse-shoe, and surrounded at a distance by pleasant hills; consists of several goodstreets, with many good buildings; underwent improvement in 1862 by the formation of water-works, by the reduction of the levels of High-street, and by theconstruction of drainage-works; and has a head post-office, ‡ two banking offices, two chief inns, a neat town hall, a corn exchange of 1849 in the Italian style, a spacious market-place, a well-fronted cattle-market of 1834, a public well 1,000 feet deep, a police station, a literaryinstitution, a reading room and library, a neat lecture-room, a museum, an agricultural hall, a horticulturalsociety, a church, five dissenting chapels, a public cemetery, a grammar-school, national and British schools, acharity school for girls, two sites of endowed almshouseswith £933 a year, a workhouse, and general charities £440. The church is chiefly of the time of Henry VII.; comprises nave, chancel, and three aisles, with fineclerestory, and very fine oak roof; has a lofty spire of 1831, surmounting an old tower; was extensively restored and altered in 1859-60; has a fine five-light E window, put up in 1866; contains three old brasses, an old monument of Lord Chancellor Audley, and a recent monument to two of Lord Braybrooke's sons, who fell in the Crimean war; and forms a conspicuous object in the view of all the surrounding country. The public cemetery ison the Sewers-End road, about ½ a mile from the town; and has two neat chapels. The grammar school was founded about 1500, by the Rev. John Leche, then vicar; had, for a pupil, Sir Thomas Smith, a native of the town and secretary to Edward VI. and Elizabeth; was raised, through his influence, to a royal foundation; has commodious premises in High-street; and an endowed income of £45: and admits, on the foundation, 24 boys. The workhouse was built in 1837, at a cost of £7, 500; and has accommodation for 435 inmates. A weekly marketis held on Saturday; fairs are held on the Saturday before Mid-Lent Sunday, the Monday after 3 Aug., and 1 and 2 Nov.; and malting and brewing are carried on. The parish is conterminate with the borough; but itextends much beyond the town, and includes the hamlets of Little Walden, North-End, and Audley-End. Acres, 7, 416. Real property, £23, 865; of which £200 are in gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 5, 911; in 1861, 5, 474. Houses, 1, 181. The manor belongs to Lord Braybrooke. A curious antiquity, called the Maze, is on a green near the town. There is also an ancient camp, called Pell-Ditches, or Repell-Ditches; the S bank of which is 730 feet long, 20 feet high, and from 50 feet wide at thebase to 6 or 8 feet at the top. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Rochester. Value, £300.* Patron, Lord Braybrooke. A chapel of ease is at Sewers-End.—The sub-district contains also the parishes of Wendens-Ambo, Littlebury, Little Chesterford, Great Chesterford, Strethall, Wendon-Lofts, Elmdon, and Chrishall. Acres, 22, 522. Pop., 9, 646. Houses, 2,040. The districtcomprehends also the sub-district of Newport, containing the parishes of Newport, Debden, Widdington, Quendon, Rickling, Clavering, Wicken-Bonant, Arkesden, and Langley; and the sub-district of Radwinter, containing the parishes of Radwinter, Wimbish, Hempstead, Great Sampford, Little Sampford, and the greaterpart of Ashdon. Acres of the district, 62, 630. Poor-rates in 1863, £14, 151. Pop. in 1851, 20, 716; in 1861, 19, 721. Houses, 4, 240. Marriages in 1863, 126; births, 629, of which 29 were illegitimate; deaths, 412, of which 140 were at ages under 5 years, and 12 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1, 378; births, 6, 518; deaths, 3, 914. The places of worship, in 1851, were 25 of the Church of England, with 8, 470 sittings; 7 of Independents, with 2, 232 s.; 7 of Baptists, with 1, 723 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 400 s.; 1 of Wesleyans, with 250 s.; 8 of Primitive Methodists, with 687 s.; and 1 of Free-Thinking Christians, with 40 s. The schools were 26 public pay schools, with 1, 951 scholars; 36 private day schools, with 590 s.; and 26 Sunday schools, with 2, 413 s.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Saffron Walden AP/CP       Saffron Walden SubD       Saffron Walden RegD/PLU       Essex AncC
Place: Saffron Walden

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.