A civil servant by day who has a passion for exploring what Great Britain has to offer in my spare time.
Published October 20th 2014
Immerse yourself in history in Saffron Walden
Saffron Walden has to be one of the finest market towns in England. It is a town steeped in history. It's not only a popular place to live but also a place frequented by day trippers and tourists alike. It's easily accessible by car and there is ample car parking to be found. Regular bus services also serve Saffron Walden from nearby towns including Cambridge. The nearest station is at Audley End which is almost 2 miles from the town.
I like to start a visit to Saffron Walden with a visit to the Bridge End Gardens. Laid out in the mid-19th century by businessman Francis Gibson, these wonderful gardens are split into several areas including the magnificent Dutch Garden, the Wilderness Area and a maze. There's also a fabulous Walled Garden, which features a wonderful array of Victorian species of fruit trees. Many of the buildings, walls and statues in the garden date from the mid-19th century. The gardens are now maintained by volunteers and entry is free.
Part of the fabulous Duth Garden at the Bridge End Gardens
Almost everywhere you look in Saffron Walden you will see so many historic buildings. A walk along streets such as Castle Street and Church Street immerse you in hundreds of years of history. There are some spectacular examples of pargetting, where decorative patterns are made into the plaster of the timber framed buildings.
The town itself has a wide range of shops ranging to Beales, its own independent department store, an outlet for Adnams Brewery of Southwold plus a wide range of antiques and collectables shops. Saffron Walden does very well on independent businesses which I always find a positive attraction in a town.
Superb pargetting on the building formerly known as The Old Sun Inn which is now Lankester Antiques and Book shop.
For those eager to find out more about the history of the town, the Saffron Walden museum is the best place to learn about its past. One interesting pubic art gallery well worth visiting is the Fry Art Gallery. The gallery displays a wide range of paintings, prints, wallpapers and illustrations of artists who lived in or around Saffron Walden during the mid-20th Century. Fantastic art works from the likes of Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden and others can be seen.
If you're visiting Saffron Walden you could fall into the trap of forgetting to have something to eat or drink if you're not careful! However, you can be rest assured that you will find restaurants, cafes and pubs in abundance. The Maze coffee shop situated in the market place serves the familiar English palate by day and then transforms to serve Turkish cuisine in the evenings. The Eight Bells pub serves food and drink and is housed in a beautiful building dating from the 16th century.
The remains of the 12th Century Castle in Saffron Walden
There is so much more to see in Saffron Walden which I simply cannot cover in one review for Weekend Notes. My best piece of advice is to give yourself a day to explore Saffron Walden and simply enjoy what it has to offer. Once you've visited, if you're like me, you'll be yearning to return again and again.