Visit Thaxted: Places to stay, things to do

Essex is at heart a rural county with lots of hidden treasures. Nick Peers explores a small medieval town that's bursting with character

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Why go there?
This weekend sees the climax of Thaxted’s Music Festival, which is a modern revival of the original festival started back in 1916 by Gustav Holst. Holst moved to Thaxted in 1913, attracted by its medieval buildings and rambling opportunities, and it was here he composed his best-known work, The Planets.
Many of the concerts will be taking place in Thaxted Church, which dates back to 1340 and dominates the town from its elevated position. It boasts many original features, including some stunning examples of stained glass. Also look out for the Thaxted Almhouses, which are situated in the churchyard and date back hundreds of years. Note they’re now private dwellings.
Other local historic buildings of interest include the 19th century windmill, which houses a free museum and is situated in a picnic area, and the Guildhall, which was built by Thaxted’s cutlers back in 1390. Thaxted itself is blessed with many old houses and buildings, and these combined with the cobbled streets make it easy to feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Thaxted itself is situated in the Chelmer Valley, a beautiful unspoilt location showcasing the beauty of Essex. If you’re looking for wildlife, then check out three nearby Essex Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves: West Wood, Shadwell Wood and Aubrey Buxton.
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Where to stay
The Swan Hotel sits in the heart of Thaxted and has recently enjoyed an extensive refurbishment of its bar, restaurant and bedrooms. Each room comes with ensuite facilities and free wi-fi access, and prices start from just £39 (single) and £49 (double) per room per night, including breakfast.
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Where to eat
Parrishes overlooks the Guildhall, and its food is reputedly as gorgeous as the view. This licensed bistro offers everything from cream teas to full Sunday roasts, and offers a full lunch and dinner menu.
www.parrishes.co.uk

Tell us a local secret

Thaxted was the home to infamous highwayman Dick Turpin – his cottage can be found just down the road from the Swan.

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Thaxted Guild Hall picture © Copyright Richard Croft and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence