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Thaxted - the jewel in the crown of Essex

One of the most attractive towns in Essex, Thaxted fully deserves the nickname 'the jewel in the crown of Essex'. Steeped in history, Thaxted's past dates back to Saxon times. Before the rise of Sheffield, it was a centre of cutlery manufacture. There are many fascinating buildings to see, but the must-sees are the 14th-century St John the Baptist Church, two almshouses, the timber-framed Thaxted Guildhall, built in the 15th century, and the 19th-century Webb's Windmill.

Local history at your fingertips at Saffron Walden

Neighbouring Saffron Walden (less than nine miles away) is home to Saffron Walden Museum, which has fascinated visitors with its abundance of world and local history since it opened back in 1835. Permanent exhibitions cover periods including ancient Egypt, local history, fossils, toys, ceramics and furniture. The museum isn't just of interest to history buffs, though - lots of activities will interest the kids.

Breathe in the past at Hatfield Forest

A local landmark in Bishops Stortford, nine miles from Thaxted, Hatfield Forest was a hunting forest in medieval times, and the past lives on strongly here. Some of the ancient trees standing there are 1,200 years old. Ideal for letting children let off steam, or a great place for walkers and runners, Hatfield Forest is an area of natural bliss. Looking for a cheap hotel Near Thaxted? You don't have to look far - Travelodge Stansted Great Dunmow Hotel is under 15 minutes by car. Travelodge Stansted Bishops Stortford Hotel and Travelodge Haverhill Hotel are a similar distance away.