NORTH-WEST ESSEX BRANCH, SAFFRON WALDEN
Chairman- Mrs Janice Sharpe. See details below
Secretary - Mr Michael Furlong.
Each of our Branches has a volunteer Contact (click on "Contact Us" at the top of the Page) who is able to provide help and information to members by e-mail regarding the area covered by the Branch. Our Saffron Walden Branch covers Saffron Walden and North West Essex and the contact for these enquiries is Mrs Janice Sharpe:
Mrs Janice Sharpe, 4 Victoria Avenue, Saffron Walden CB11 3AE
Telephone: UK 01799 527718 International +44 1799 527718
E-mail - Sharpejms1@aol.com
All meetings of our Branch are held at the Saffron Walden Baptist Church Lower Hall, (Audley Road entrance) CB11 3HD three monthly on the second Thursday of the month at 8pm.
The programme is as follows:
September 10th 2020- Annual General Meeting
Click here to see reports of some recent sessions
Saffron Walden lies in the far corner of North West Essex on the banks of the Upper Cam Valley and archaeological evidence suggests that the area has been inhabited since at least Neolithic times.
Excavations during the 19 th and 20th centuries unearthed much evidence of man's activity from then through the Bronze Age up to Roman times. Entries in the Domesday Book give us an insight into the Saxon manor and thereafter, from the Conquest, its subsequent disposal to William the Conqueror's chosen man, Geoffrey de Mandeville.
The market, originally moved from nearby Newport in 1135, and developing into a Tuesday and Saturday affair in 1295, continues to this day. Shortly after that, around 1300 the Town was granted its first charter, adding to its expanding prosperity, which within another 100 years or so took off with the wool trade adding to the area's wealth.
Despite the existence of wool related income continuing into the nineteenth century, it was soon overtaken by the saffron industry, providing the main source of revenue in the local area and also giving its name to the Town.
Whilst commercial cultivation of the plant is now extinct, having been overtaken by foreign imports by 1790, the Saffron crocus remains a symbol of Saffron Walden. Over the centuries, the Town was affected by the wider historic upheavals of England, such as in the reign of Henry VIII when, following the dissolution of the monasteries, Walden Abbey was handed over to one of the king's favourites, Thomas Audley. Religious turmoil ensued in the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth. During the Civil War Saffron Walden became for a while the headquarters of Oliver Cromwell. Later the appearance of religious non-conformity led to another period of great prosperity with the establishment of the Quaker movement. Furthermore it gained (and lost) its connection to the railway network and was even considered important enough by some entrepreneurs to have a proposal put before Parliament for its own canal link (which never came to fruition).
Saffron Walden went through tremendous change during Queen Victoria's reign with many new buildings of note being erected by wealthy residents who also, with a philanthropic eye, provided much to improve the way of educational, health and literary matters within the Town. Coincidentally the most notable of these benefactors were practising non-conformists, thus reflecting a long and well established religious tradition embedded in the Town and surrounding district since King Edward VI's reign.
Today Saffron Walden is an expanding municipality with an increasing population exceeding 15000 (consider during the Civil War, total souls numbered a mere 980!). It has its share of coffee shops and estate agents, but its centre is still classed as a conservation area and many of the buildings are considered unique, not only within Essex but in some cases in the United Kingdom.
ESFH North West Essex Branch was established in 1986, and our programme is based on an educational and participative mix encompassing historical and parish transcriptions, (including the National Burial Index), coupled with occasional speakers covering both family and social history; the aim being to appeal to, and embrace, all family historians no matter what their experience or background.
NB: The Saffron Walden Historical Society have a useful web site for research of the area on their RESOURCES page at https://saffronwaldenhistory.org.uk/resources/
A project that the Saffron Walden Branch of ESFH undertook was the transcription of the grave records for Saffron Walden Cemetery dating back to the 1850s. When control of the cemetery passed to Saffron Walden Town Council, access to this invaluable resource came to an end. Following collaboration between The Recorders of Uttlesford History and the Essex Society for Family History this material, which has been updated to 2017 (over 13,950 entries) is now available to researchers and family historians online through the SWHS website.
A second major initiative, undertaken by the Saffron Walden Branch and which is ongoing, is transcribing the Baptism records for St. Mary's Parish Church, Saffron Walden. To date more than 12,900 records have been completed, and you can see them in summary through the link above.
STOP PRESS: New release for April 2019; look out for our Branch's 3rd CD of baptisms up to 1800, packed with additional information and allowing you to search in family groups-see the ESFH main website "Shop" link for details on how to order.
Don't forget to look at the reports from some
of our recent meetings.
Last updated: 17/08/2020 14:31:24