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best places to live Saffron Walden

Top places to live in Essex Saffron Walden

Cosy pubs, a medieval market town and more country walks than you can shake a wellie at. Here's how SW serves up a slice of the good life. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.


Nestled in the north-west Essex countryside, Saffron Walden is a medieval market town dripping in history. Grade II-listed timber-clad homes limed in salmon pink and green and cream line the streets, and an air of pleasant civility hangs in the archways. You can buy your seasonal greens from the twice-weekly farmers’ market; watch art-house flicks at the community cinema Saffron Screen, and generally relax into a slower rhythm that’s hard to match elsewhere in the county.


Traditional pubs are a-plenty in this neck of the (often literal) woods and the cosy 2021 Muddy Award finalist Eight Bells serves up timber beams, soaring rafters and squishy leather armchairs to sink in post-feast. Previously owned by Jamie Oliver’s family, The Cricketers in Clavering is another great shout for gastro-pub dishes, while The Market House’s sun-trapped garden is the perfect spot for tapas/brunch/cocktails come the weekend. For anything from a takeaway coffee and homemade cake to a buckle-busting brunch, head to this year’s best café Muddy Award Winner Cafe Cou Cou.


For boutique fashion finds, hit Blue on King Street to shop cashmere sweaters, linen dresses and handmade jewellery. Adnams on Market Street stocks a huge selection of craft beers, wines and stylish kitchenware, while the dark facade of Talents gift store hides a treasure trove of sustainably sourced pieces, from ceramics and beautifully wrapped soaps to cushions and crafts. 


Audley End House and Gardens is one of my favourite English Heritage sites and offers a year-round itinerary of events for cultural days out the whole family can enjoy. Set in 10,000 acres, the 17th-century estate’s open-air concerts and cinema screenings, in particular, are always a calendar highlight and little ones will love stroking the horses in Audley End’s stables.


A four-bed detached property here, on average, costs £677,892, while a three-bed semi-detached home fetches around £423,192. A two-bed terrace currently stands at £339,668, while a one-bed flat can demand £229,543.  


3-bedroom Grade II listed cottage on one of Saffron Walden’s most picturesque streets, on the market for offers over £600,000 with Cheffins.


Clavering Primary, Great Chesterford Church of England Primary Academy, Katherine Semar, St Thomas More Catholic Primary and RA Butler Academy are all considered to be slicker than your average primaries, while Saffron Walden County High and nearby Linton Village College are both outstanding secondary options, according to Ofsted. Meanwhile, Sudbury’s independent Stoke College (a 50-minute drive away) offers up day and boarding options in acres of lush parkland.


Head to the unspoilt rural villages of nearby Finchingfield (11 miles and a 20-minute drive) and Thaxted (7 miles and 13 minutes) for a leisurely stroll along the river and picnic by John Webb’s picture-perfect Windmill. You’ll feel as though you’ve stepped straight into a scene from Mary Poppins.


Hop on a fast train from Audley End station and you can be in London Liverpool Street in an hour. Annual season tickets costs £4,488. On four wheels? The nearby M11 means you drive the 56 miles into the capital in around 75 minutes, depending on traffic. 

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Cobbled streets, medieval architecture, and thriving independent shops: Thaxted is an under-the-radar Essex gem with great commuter links.


Surrounded by acres of green space, you’d never know this market town is just 17 miles from the capital.


Not just the oldest town in Britain but we reckon one of the best, thanks to good schools, theatres galore, award-winning park, plus its very own zoo, and all within easy reach of both the coast and the capital.


Perfectly placed between Brentwood and Chelmsford, with its own rail station, Ingatestone is the picture-perfect combo of commuter town with a vibrant village feel and oodles of gorgeous indies, including a couple of Muddy Award winners.

Highlands House Estate Chelmsford


Great schools, parks and, yes, shopping: Chelmsford remains one of the best places to live in Essex since gaining city status.

best places to live Frinton-on-Sea


Yes, immaculate swathes of blonde beach help, but there's a lot more to this upmarket seaside town than ice creams on the prom.


Combining a buzzy cafe culture with Old Town charm, Leigh-on-Sea is one of the county's hippest property hotspots.

best places to live Saffron Walden

Saffron Walden

Cosy pubs, a medieval market town and more country walks than you can shake a wellie at.

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