Josie Watson. July 2021

In preparation for leading a guided walk of Thaxted for the Essex Federation of the WEA I spent a lovely summer’s day with a friend, exploring the town and planning a route, and taking lots of photos! (see below)

I’d visited the town quite a few times over the years, and I’d already done some research on the Thaxted website and my extensive(!) collection of books on Essex, so I already had an idea of where to explore.

We started outside the house of Gustav Holt, composer of ‘The Planet Suite’ (which includes the tune to ‘I Vow To Thee My Country’). He lived in Thaxted from 1917 to 1925.

We then walked up the High Street, past the icon timber-framed Guildhall and along a lane with the great name of Fishmarket Street.

At the top of the lane is John Webb’s windmill. It’s sometimes open to the public, but hasn’t been during the pandemic, and there’s no information on the Thaxted website about when it will next be open. You can walk around the outside of it though.

We then went for a short walk around the fields. Thaxted is quite high – for Essex, which is one of the reasons why the windmill is there. It’s also in the middle of very productive farming country, and we had great views across the Essex countryside.

After walking around the fields we headed back in to the town, past the very pretty almshouses, which still provide homes for three older people.

We walked through the churchyard. I always find churchyards fascinating, and wonder about the people who are buried there and what their lives were like.

We admired the parish church of St. John the Baptist, St Mary and St. Laurence. . I think they were hedging their bets when they named it, and gave it as many saints names as they could. it’s impossible to miss, as it dominates the town centre. It’s one of the grandest churches in Essex, and some say it is one of the best parish churches in the country.

As it was June 2021, and we were in the later stages of coming out of Lockdown, the church wasn’t open, but I have been inside in the past, and it is beautiful. Each year the church is the venue for the Thaxted Music Festival.

That was the end of our walk, which took about 90 minutes, and did include a lot of stopping to enjoy the view.

And of course, no walk is complete without lunch, so we went to Parrishes on the High Street, where we both had a very tasty chicken salad.

If you would like to arrange guided walk of Thaxted (or anywhere else in north Essex and south Suffolk) for your group, email me –

[Update : the tour with the WEA went well, they’re a lovely group of people – but gosh it was a hot day!!]