Saffron Walden is an old market town in Essex, UK. During the Roman era there was never more than a small settlement in the area. The later Anglo-Saxon inhabitants called the place "weala-denu" ("Valley of the Britons"). By the time the Domesday Book was written in 1086, there was an estate of some 120 households. In the 1130s and 1140s the Norman Lord of the Manor Geoffrey de Mandeville 3rd Earl of Essex had the castle built, moved the market from Newport to this town and founded a Benedictine Priory. The castle keep remains can be seen today. The market is still held on Tuesdays & Saturdays and the Priory, which became Walden Abbey in 1190 and was given to Sir Thomas Audley in 1538 during the Dissolution of the monasteries, is now Audley End House. In the 1230s a new ambitious town plan with a grid system of streets, a new market place and a new church were set out. By the late 1300s the area around Walden had begun to grow the saffron crocus and by the early 1500s was the centre of the saffron industry in the country.The town adopted the name of Saffron Walden and its legacy is reflected in the wealth of timber-framed buildings of that time and the largest parish church in Essex, completed in 1525. The decline of the saffron industry in the 17th and 18th century led to reduced development in the town. There were few new houses built at this time but the new Georgian Town Hall was built in the 1760s. Prosperity returned in the 19th century with the growth of the malting and brewing industries and with farming still at the centre of the area's economy. The Victorian prosperity is reflected in buildings around the Market Square and to the south of the town.
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Saffron Walden, England1 488 photos