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Thursday, 26 February 2015

A Stroll Round Saffron Walden

Saffron Walden takes its name from the saffron industry which grew up here around the late 14th century.

Saffron was an incredibly important product - it was used as a dye and as a spice.

The trade died out during the eighteenth century, but an enterprising farmer has recently begun growing saffron crocus again in the area.
Church St
The town is still home to many charming medieval buildings, some of which, e.g. the Cross Keys Hotel, have their original shop windows. Many of these buildings are adorned with pargeting, a type of moulded decorative plasterwork. If your surname is Pargeter, then maybe one of your ancestors was involved in this craft.               

In some ways the town reminded me of Chester, as there were a few Georgian buildings mixed in with the medieval ones (although of course Chester's shops are two-tiered - the famous Rows).
Saffron Walden is also home to a museum, built in the mid-1830s. It's said to be one of the oldest purpose-built museums in the UK, although sadly we did not have time to pay it a visit.

Saffron Walden museum.
Walsingham House.

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