• The Tour de France comes to Finchingfield - 7th July 2014
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A Brief History of the Parish of Finchingfield

The village of Finchingfield is said to be the most photographed one in the country, and the views are largely shaped by its Anglo Saxon heritage. Dwellings then were built close to each other, round a common and with a river or stream close by.

The simple mud and thatch buildings of the Anglo Saxon period have long gone and been replaced by clusters of cottages and ancient gabled houses, throughout the parish, some of which survive to this day. There are still many old cottages that have retained their thatched roofs.

Some of parish’s land and buildings were mentioned in the Domesday Book and there is some evidence of an earlier Roman presence.

The Norman church of St John the Baptist stands sentinel over the village of Finchingfield. The Norman tower was built by a descendent of one of the knights of William of Normandy in the 12th century, with the rest of the church being completed over the following two centuries.

The parish is a rural one, where farming and related occupations would have dominated the life of those who lived here. Some of the farms that operate today have existed for many centuries.

Spains Hall, an Elizabethan manor house lying between Finchingfield and Cornish Hall End had a dominant presence in the past as it owned much of the land and was the area’s main employer. The level of its influence has declined as agricultural has become less important as an employer and as people have become more independent and mobile.

One of the other oldest houses in the parish is found next to the metal footbridge over the pond and was once the local workhouse. The Guildhall, on Church Hill, was built in about 1500 and during its history it has housed the village school and been an almshouse for older, poorer residents. Visit the Guildhall website.

Windmills were a prominent feature on the local landscape, though only one of the original eight locally has survived. This stopped being used in 1890, but is regularly opened to visitors.

Finchingfield was a stop for the horse drawn coaches travelling between London and Norwich. As coaches drew up close to the bridge in front of The Fox Inn, passengers would have sight of the whipping post, stocks and lock-up cage on the Green, which were a common feature in rural villages in the 19th century.

The area is located at the cross roads to four former market towns, each between eight to ten miles distant, namely Great Dunmow, Saffron Walden, Braintree and Haverhill. The rural parish would have been largely self-sufficient, with many traditional trades. It even had its own horse drawn fire engine.

The population of the parish has declined over time and has currently about 1400 adults and children.

The village is still a very popular destination for tourists and visitors. The teashops, restaurants, shops and the public houses in both Finchingfield and Cornish Hall End offer a warm welcome to all.

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