Thaxted

Thaxted is a town in the Uttlesford district of Essex, England, with about 2,500 inhabitants.

Thaxted appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Tachesteda, Old English for “place where thatch was got.” Once a centre of cutlery manufacture, Thaxted went into decline with the rise of Sheffield as a major industrial centre. A light railway, the Elsenham & Thaxted Light Railway, eventually opened in 1913, though the railway itself never reached nearer than three-quarters of a mile (1.2┬ákm) from the town, as building earthworks across the River Chelmer proved too costly. With the growth of road transport, the line was closed to passengers in 1952 and closed altogether in 1953. The name of Cutler’s Green, a small hamlet about a mile to the west of Thaxted, recalls the trade that yielded the area’s early wealth.

Thaxted’s population has remained almost unchanged down the centuries, hovering near the 2,000 mark. In 1829 there were 2,293 people living in Thaxted; in 1848 there were 2,527. At the time of the 1881 census that figure fell to 1,914, and fell further in 1921 to 1,596. In 2001, the population was 2,526.

Notable Thaxted buildings include Horham Hall, Thaxted Guildhall dating from around 1450 and John Webb’s Windmill built in 1804. The large parish church of St John, built between 1340 and 1510, is renowned for its flying-buttressed spire, which is 181 feet tall and is the only medieval stone spire in the county. It has perpendicular windows and a stained glass representing Adam and Eve. The church, which stands on a hill and overlooks the town, is often referred to as “the Cathedral of Essex”.

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