Uttlesford is blessed with a large number of churches which are a treasure trove of heritage, history and community.
Very few churches are built in the style of a specific architectural period meaning their history, and the fortunes of the community they represent, can be traced through the way different parts are built.
Here are just a few highlights to keep an eye out for as you journey around the district.
St Mary the Virgin Parish Church, Saffron Walden
The largest parish church in Essex with a spire extending to 193 feet. The church sits in an elevated position and the cheery sound of bell ringing frequently rings out across the town.
Thaxted Parish Church
A truly magnificent church of cathedral proportions that dominates the skyline of this picturesque part of the world. Simon Jenkins, former chairman of the National Trust, wrote “Thaxted is the queen of Essex and her crown is the church”.
St Mary the Virgin, Arkesden.
Contains an extraordinary monument, to prominent local resident Richard Cutte, painted in a very vibrant shade of pink, which dominates one side of this pretty church.
St Mary the Virgin, Stebbing
Built almost entirely in the 14th Century on the site of an older church it contains a carved stone rood screen, one of only two in the whole country. The graffiti on the church pillars is thought to date back to the English civil war.
Church of St Botolph, Hadstock
In 2020 the church celebrated its millennium; many archaeologists consider that this is the church founded by King Canute in 1020, to commemorate those who were slain in the Battle of Assandun in 1016, when he defeated the Saxon forces. In 1017 he became King of all England.
St Marys Church, Chickney
A Grade I listed building no longer regularly used and in the protection of the Churches Conservation Trust. It is thought to be one of the oldest churches in Essex and a wonderful survivor of Saxon England. It inhabits an atmospheric and remote setting within a ring of trees.
Church of St Mary the Virgin, Broxted
A pretty church dating back to the 13th century with two vibrant stained-glass windows made in 1993 by John K Clarke symbolising the capture and subsequent release of the Beirut hostages.
Priory Church of St Mary the Virgin, Little Dunmow
This Grade I listed parish church was once the Lady Chapel of an Augustinian priory that was founded here in 1106 AD. The rest of the priory was demolished following the 1536 dissolution of the monasteries. What survives is quite unusual and very special, some elements dating back to the 12th century. Amongst the treasures inside is the ancient tombstone of a lady who may, many years after her death, have been the inspiration for the fictional Maid Marian, a character who first featured in the tales of Robin Hood in the 16th century.
St Peters, Littlebury Green
A unique and beautiful ‘tin tabernacle’ style church building.
St Andrews Church, Hempstead
St Andrews Church, Hempstead contains both a monument to William Harvey (1578-1657) who discovered the circulation of the blood but also 13 lead coffins of other members of his family including Captain Eliab Harvey who commanded the Temeraire, after which the pub in Saffron Walden is named.