Sawbridgeworth

Street Map

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Sawbridgeworth is a small, mainly residential, town and also a civil parish in Hertfordshire, England.

Sawbridgeworth is four miles south of Bishop’s Stortford, twelve miles east of Hertford and nine miles north of Epping. It lies on the A1184 and has a railway station that links to Liverpool Street station in London. The river Stort flows through the east of the town, past the Maltings (now a small business and residential area).

Prior to the Norman Conquest, most of the area was owned by the Saxon Angmar the Staller.

The Manor of “Sabrixteworde” (one of the many spellings previously associated with the town) was recorded in the Domesday Book. After the Battle of Hastings it was granted to Geoffrey de Mandeville by William the Conqueror. Local notables have included Sir John Leventhorpe, who was an executor of King Henry V’s will, and Anne Boleyn, who was given the Pishiobury/Pishobury estate, located to the south of the town.

Much of the town centre is a conservation area; many of the buildings date from the Tudor, Stuart, and Georgian periods. Great St. Mary’s church was originally built in the 13th century (although a church on the site existed in Saxon times) and includes a Tudor tower containing a clock bell (1664) and eight ringing bells, the oldest of which dates from 1749. Historically, it is unclear where the apostrophe lies in “Great St. Mary’s”, and even which St. Mary it was, and why it is “Great”. Ralph Jocelyn of Hyde Hall, who was twice Lord Mayor of London in the 15th century, is buried here; images of many of his family and other locals have been engraved on brass, and hence the church is popular for enthusiasts of brass rubbing.

The town’s prosperity came from the local maltings, owned by George Fawbert and John Barnard; in 1839 they set up the Fawbert and Barnard charity to fund local children and their education, funding a local infant school that still exists today.

Apart from the historic nature of the town, attractions include local river cruises in the summer, one annual fair held on Fair Green on the Sunday of the first May Bank Holiday and Carol singing on the green on Christmas Eve.

By the time of the Norman conquest, or soon after, Sawbridgeworth’s rich farming land was fully developed for cultivation as was possible with the means available at the time: it was the richest village community in the country. It is, then, hardly surprising that many important medieval families had estates here. The land was divided amongst them, into a number of manors or distinct estates; the Lord of each manor had rights not only over this land but also over the people who farmed it. The number of manors increased during the Middle Ages, by a process of subinfeudation, that is the granting out of a part of an existing manor to a new owner so that the new manor was created. Many manors sprang from the original Domesday Book holding of the de Mandeville family. The first came to be called Sayesbury manor, from the de Say family who inherited it from the de Mandeville’s in 1189. The many important people who held these manors built themselves houses with hunting parks around them; when they died their tombs enriched the parish church, so that today St. Mary’s has one of the finest collections of church monuments in the country. The Lordship of Sawbridgeworth includes the estate of Sayesbury.

During World War II RAF Sawbridgeworth operated Supermarine Spitfires, Westland Lysander, P-51 Mustang, and de Havilland Mosquitos.

The name of the town is now almost universally pronounced in the obvious way, but this was not always the case. In the Middle Ages it is believed to have been pronounced “Sapserth”, and since then the pronunciation has varied to include “Sapsa”, “Sapster” and “Sapsworth”, and even until the Second World War was pronounced “Sapsed”. Current residents often use the casual abbreviated name “Sawbo”.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

 

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