Saffron Walden is a picturesque medieval town in the Uttlesford district of Essex, England. Designated a Conservation Area in 1968, this quaint market town is home to some of the most impressive buildings (more than 400) famous for their distinct architecture or particular historical interest.
Audley End House & Gardens
One of the top attractions in Saffron Walden is Audley End House. This fabulous 17th-century country house was once a palace three times its current size but is now renowned as one of the most opulent Jacobean houses in the country, and the family seat of the Lord Braybrooke. You can wander the magnificent interiors with the state apartments, libraries, intimate dressing rooms, 18th century state beds, and 18th century Gothic-style chapel, to name a few, or explore some of the highlights on display from the Audley End natural history collection. Additionally, visitors have the chance to enjoy a fascinating glimpse into the fully restored nursery and imagine how life used to be for the 8 children in the Braybrooke family.
The coal gallery is another pole of attraction if you want to explore the difficult life of a servant during the Victorian times. For more information on the life in this bustling country estate, the carefully restored 1880s Serving Wing is a step in time that will take you all the way back to the 1800s, with the use of introductory wall displays, film projections, and even food from that era. For a breath of fresh air, you can always visit the Victorian Stable Yard and see the resident horses in action with riding displays or get your kids dressed-up!
Don't leave this site without visiting the Audley End House Gardens. Landscaped by two of the most notorious designers of the 18th century, the garden gives you a feeling of instant calmness with its beautiful, natural planting, fantastic serpentine lake, and breath-taking extensive views. As for the buildings decorating this jewel, such as the River Cam Bridge, as well as the restored kitchen garden running on organic principles, they will undoubtedly leave you speechless! And, if you feel peckish, you can find plenty of cold and hot, locally sourced meals in the Servant Hall Tea Room!
Bridge End Garden
Bridge End Garden is the place you want to be for a quick (or long) escape from the busy town. In a series of 7 interlinked Grade II listed gardens dating back to the 19th century, you can find serenity and tranquillity. The ambitious attempts to restore the garden to its full glory with Victorian era designs and gardening techniques have made the place an earthly heaven, where you can feel grateful even for the simplest in life.
Fry Art Gallery
Those appreciating fine art can come across an impressive number of wallpapers, prints, paintings, decorative designs, and illustrations by 20th century artists and important contributors to their field, in the Fry Art Gallery. Among the many artworks on display, nearly 600 of them are by the hand of Edward Bawden, dominant figure for 40 years. The gallery also has acquired works by Michael Rothenstein RA, Ravilious and his wife Tirzah Garwood, Kenneth Rowntree, Bawden's son Richard, Marianne Straub, Bernard Cheese, and many more.
Saffron Walden Museum
This award-winning museum proudly sitting alongside the ruins of a Norman Castle is one of the oldest in the country and home to a rich collection, from Samurai armour and swords to Saxon axes, shields, and spears. A family-friendly museum that has something for every taste for sure!
Before going to the next attraction, grab the opportunity to meet an Ancient Egyptian Mummy, the glove Mary Queen of Scots gave away before her execution and Wallace the Lion from the notorious The Lion & Albert poem!
Saffron Walden Town Trail
The Saffron Walden Town Trail will take you past all the significant and majestic medieval buildings reflecting the wealth and rich heritage of Saffron. Starting from the 19th century Market Place, dominated by Victorian buildings, Museum and Castle Ruins, Castle Street, with timber framed hall houses, Fry Art Gallery and Bridge End Garden, then to The Eight Bells (one of the overall 27 Grade II listed buildings in the town), Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin (the largest parish church in Essex), The Cross Keys (the 15th century timber framed former house), and finally The Rows, the distinct 15th century hall house, among others.
Saffron is the perfect place to indulge yourself in a laid back life. And, if you want more sites worth visiting, these should definitely be the Audley End Miniature Railway, Finchingfield Guildhall, IWM Duxford, One Minet Skate Park, and Saffron Screen.