A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THAXTED
If ever a town deserved the description 'picturesque', it is the Thaxted, one of the prettiest towns, not only in Essex, but in all of England. The combination of historic buildings and a lovely countryside setting makes Thaxted one of the highlights of exploring East Anglia. Thaxted has been described as the 'jewel in the crown' of Essex, and if you having experienced a visit it, you’ll be hard pressed to argue. Thaxted is built around 4 historic buildings; a medieval timber-framed guildhall, a restored 18th century windmill, a pair of chocolate box almshouses, and a magnificent medieval church. Gustav Holst, the English composer, lived in Town Street, Thaxted for a while and wrote 'The Planets' suite whilst living in the town. On top of that, there are historic buildings highlighting every time period from medieval to modern. Thaxted also has a variety of shops, restaurants, pubs (including The Maypole) and other businesses which serve the needs of residents and visitors alike, making the town a centre for trade and commerce today, as it has been for 1000 years.
Building of the church was begun in 1340, though it was not complete until 1510!. It is one of the grandest in the county of Essex, 183 feet long and 87 feet wide, and so beautiful that it may well claim to be the Cathedral of Essex. The Church stands on a hill and dominates the town. From whichever direction the visitor approaches, the splendid spire can be seen many miles away. It has been described as the finest parish church in the country, and has both beauty and grandeur. There is an excellent 'walk around' guide in the church available to visitors.
Immediately beside the church are a pair of almshouses, flanking a footpath leading to Thaxted Windmill.
This delicious timber-framed building was probably more accurately a Moot Hall, or civic meeting place, and not a guild hall. However, it has been known as the Guildhall for centuries. Built around 1450. It was restored at the end of the 17th century and converted into a school, remaining in that use until 1878. Further restorations were carried out in 1911 and 1975. There is now a small museum in the building exhibiting photographs and objects associated with Thaxted. To one side of the hall is Stoney Lane, a cobbled street rising steeply towards the churchyard. Fronting the street are three medieval cottages, forming a delightfully picturesque sight.
Known as John Webb's Mill, Thaxted Windmill is a grade II listed tower mill on the edge of the town. The mill stands 48 feet high, and is made of red brick, with four wooden sails.
The mill was erected in 1804 on land owned by John Webb, a successful businessman who owned a number of properties locally. There is a small lawned area around the mill which is used for picnics, and several benches to simply sit and admire the views. It is open seasonally, and entry is currently free, though donations are welcomed. Apart from the restored milling machinery there is a small museum of local history on two floors, including a manual fire engine that served Thaxted for many years, and old photographs showing the town through history.
To the right of the path leading from the windmill to the church is a thatched Chantry cottage, built to house the local priest in the 14th century. It later was split into 4 separate dwellings and served as an almshouse. Opposite the Chantry and forming a picturesque pair of buildings is a second almshouse, built about 1714 on the site of an earlier medieval chantry. Though roughly the same size as the Chantry, this almshouse accommodated up to 16 elderly people.
Why not visit Thaxted and discover it's magic for yourself!