After a 58 minute train journey from London to Audley End we got off the train, much to the delight of Ben who really didn't like his first ever train journey.
After a what seemed a incredible long walk I finally reached Saffron Walden.
A little history now of Saffron Walden.........
There has been a village on or near the site of present day Saffron Walden since before the Roman occupation of Britain when Bronze and Iron Age tribes settled in the area. After the Romans withdrew from the country, a flourishing Anglo-Saxon town was established.
With the Norman invasion of 1066, a stone church was built. The castle was constructed c.1116
In the medieval period the primary trade in Saffron Walden was in wool. 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 corn exchange 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 and the Town Hall.
Now that you're all probably bored with the history lesson I'll continue, we walked down into the town and got my first view of the town and its abbey...
After a little while later I was in awe of the beauty of this town and its historic buildings....
|The Cross Keys Hotel is at the junction of High Street and King Street. Dating from the 15th century it was originally a house and shop.|
On the corner of the ground floor are two of the original shop windows.
|Note the pargetting (raised patterning) on the gables and the jettied construction. You can see the church behind.|
|A view from the high street down into Bridge Street.|
|Some more houses on Bridge Street, now I'm short but even I would have to duck to enter one of these houses!|
|Just after the end of Bridge Street on the right, I let Ben off for a run.|
|A view of the rear of a building on the high street as we strolled through a park behind the church.|
|The town square looking towards the Library.|
|Another lovely old house on my walk out of the town.|
I walked back out of the park along Audley End Road chatting away to a coach driver, until I reached Audley End House..... he is another history lesson about the House..................
Audley End was the site of a Benedictine monastery (Walden Abbey), granted to the Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas Audley in 1538 by Henry VIII. It was converted to a domestic house for him, known as Audley Inn. This dwelling was later demolished by his grandson, Thomas Howard (the first Earl of Suffolk and Lord Treasurer), and a much grander mansion was built, primarily for entertaining King James I.
In 1619, Thomas and his wife were found guilty of embezzlement and sent to the Tower of London. However, a huge fine secured their release, but Howard died in disgrace at Audley End in 1626.
At this time, the house was on the scale of a great royal palace, and soon became one after Charles II bought it in 1668 for £50,000, for use as a home when attending the races at Newmarket. It was returned to the Suffolks in 1701.
Over the next century, the house was gradually demolished until it was reduced to its current size. However, the main structure has remained little altered since the main front court was demolished in 1708, and the east wing came down in 1753. Some rooms have been substantially remodelled, though, especially the huge Hall
|Audley End Hall|
|Grand entrance to Audley End House|
|The Audley End Miniature Railway is a delightful 1.5 mile ride on Lord Braybrooke’s private 10 ¼” gauge railway through Estate woodland.|
I then left to walk back to Audley End Rail station to make my way home along London Road passing the Audley End House Estate on my left.
|Audley End House Estate.|