Thursday, 15 September 2011

Day trip out to Saffron Walden and Audley End 14th September 2011

This was going to be a bike ride out,but I woke up with very little energy and the thought of a long bike ride didn't appeal. After a check on the train prices I saw that a return ticket was 70p cheaper than a single,that I thought sod it I might as well go both ways by train then. So Ben my dog and I set off from Romford station to London Liverpool street station. Once there I missed the train by 2 minutes  to Cambridge that stops me off at our station of Audley end which funny enough is in Wendens Ambo. So after a half hour wait for the next train we were off on our way passing through some very pretty places such as Sawbridgeworth, Stanstead Mountfichet etc....well worth a visit some time in the future.
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.



We walked off up the road through Wendens Ambo and down to a junction of London Road, which a pub down the bottom called The fighting cocks.It was here I went right when really in hindsight should have gone left and not had to put up with the walk along the horrible walk along the B1052.





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.



Stay in the oldest inhabited building in Saffron Walden, a 600-year-old former maltings with oak beams, uneven floors and a walled garden. Saffron Walden is an ancient town with a rich heritage of old buildings set in rolling countryside, good for walking and cycling. It´s also close to the Imperial War Museum´s aviation collection at Duxford and Thaxted Windmill. Great for:
Walkers and cyclists - it makes an excellent base for exploring the area.
For further details see http://www.yha.org.uk
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 Hall is situated on the south side of the Market Square. It was first built in 1761 and extensively remodelled and extended in 1879. The hall owes its existence to the munificence of George Stacey Gibson , a local businessman and Mayor of Saffron Walden from 1875 – 1877. At the end of his term as Mayor, he gave the town the necessary money to rebuild the hall.

The town square looking towards the Library.
Another lovely old house on my walk out of the town.
I walked off now towards Audley End. I went into  Audley Park to let Ben off for another run.




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
Stable Bridge


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.

After a long journey back I was finally home. This blog was dedicated to my mate Richard who said there was nothing nice to see in Essex...how wrong are you??

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