This month, we take you on a tour of Saffron Walden – a beautiful and historic town with plenty to offer residents and visitors alike.

Driving to the medieval town, through Ford End, Dunmow, Thaxted, passing lots of picturesque countryside, added to the appeal when finally arriving in Saffron Walden.

It is located in a lovely part of Essex, with plenty of well-preserved historic buildings and modern amenities.

At every turn there are more picturesque old buildings, which intermingle with modern architecture.

The rich heritage of the old buildings reflects the town’s wealth, when it was a rural market town.

Markets have been held there since 1141 and, according to, the town was first called ‘Walden’ and then ‘Chipping Walden’ until around 1500, when the saffron crocus was grown in the area and the saffron trade was at its peak.

The name ‘Saffron Walden’ was formalised by Henry VIII in a charter granted in 1514.

Shoppers continue to love the weekly markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays selling cheese, fruit and vegetables, olives, breads, eggs, whole foods, fish and a Spanish food stall as well as flowers and collectibles.

The market won the title of ‘Best Small Outdoor Market’ in the 2018 Great British Markets Awards.

Great British Life: St Mary The Virgin Parish Church is the largest in EssexSt Mary The Virgin Parish Church is the largest in Essex

Things to do

There is plenty to do in the area and one of the huge draws for tourists is the popular Audley End House & Gardens. Visitors can explore the grounds and estate of Audley End in the servant’s wing, state rooms, stables, kitchen garden and beautiful grounds. There are special events held throughout the year.

Saffron Walden Museum explores the archaeology, natural history and social history of north-west Essex and the wider world. Collections include Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, Ceramics and Glass, Costume and Textiles, Geology, Furniture and Woodwork, Local and Social History, Natural History and World Cultures.

Take in the majesty of St Mary the Virgin Parish Church, the largest in Essex, with an overall length of 183 feet, whilst the tower and spire stand at 193 feet. The interior of this church is breath-taking.

One Minet Skate Park, next to the Lord Butler Leisure Centre, is perfect for adventurous types, with three deep bowls and a street section and is limited to those aged 10 years and above. There is also room for picnicking on the adjoining field.

There is also an incredibly impressive building, which houses the library, and is well worth a visit if only to admire the exterior. Saffron Wall Town Hall is close by.

Great British Life: There are plenty of places to eat and drink in Saffron WaldenThere are plenty of places to eat and drink in Saffron Walden

Eat and drink

The town is well served with a variety of cafés and restaurants including the Bicicletta café that serves quality ingredients and great coffee. They cater to cyclists passing through and yet the space is open to all who want to enjoy its delicious fare.

Other options for lunch or dinner includes tasty pizza at DOUGH&Co Woodfired Pizza Saffron Walden, and delicious Indian cuisine at Indigo.

Café culture is alive and kicking with Café Coucou – an artisan bakery and café – and Sushi and Salad serving sushi along with hot dishes, both are lovely destinations to visit.

The Goat and Grass was heaving with late brunch and early lunch guests enjoying the outside eating area.

Charter’s sells specialty coffee, aperitivo, fresh pasta and natural wine. It also has an independent distillery, specialising in Vermouth and botanical spirits. Its general store is stocked with fresh pasta made in house, amongst other goodies.

For fine dining, head to the restaurant on church street, which serves European dishes with a contemporary North African influence, along with an extensive wine list.

Great British Life: The Cross Keys Hotel and Restaurant is a stunning Elizabethan buildingThe Cross Keys Hotel and Restaurant is a stunning Elizabethan building

Places to stay

The Cross Keys Hotel and Restaurant is a stunning Elizabethan building in the heart of the town. The western end of the building was built in the 16th century as a shop. The later 17th, 18th and 19th century additions simply add to the charm of the building.

There are 10 rooms available for overnight guests, each boasting king-sized beds and en-suites. Fun fact, The Cross Keys won one of the Channel Four, ‘Four in a Bed’ competitions!

Prices start at £110 for a Standard Room, Superior Standard is £120 and Superior King Ensuite Room from £130. All prices include breakfast. Early check in and late check out are available upon request.

Great British Life: Caption: The name 'Saffron Walden' was formalised by Henry VIII in a charter granted in 1514Caption: The name 'Saffron Walden' was formalised by Henry VIII in a charter granted in 1514

Where to shop

There are plenty of interesting shops on the high street including Phase Eight, Monsoon and Seasalt Cornwall for clothes, homeware and gifts.

There is also Releaf Skate Shop for all your skateboarding needs including decks, trucks, wheels and other gear.

The well-established Coles 1928 is a real destination for luxury menswear and suit hire while

My Flair Lady sells fashionable women’s clothes, baby wear, gifts and flowers. There is also a lovely independent boutique called Blue that is well worth a visit.

For gifting needs, discover Behind the Lines for stylish stationery as well as The Corner Club.