The Mayor of Saffron Walden, Cllr Mike Hibbs opening the Uttlesford History Fair, held at Saffron Walden Town Hall on 28 March 2009. The mayor emphasised the importance of history in promoting a sense of community, and how strong it was in Saffron Walden. He was accompanied by the Town Crier for the day, Peter Riding and his assistant, 11-year-old James Lowe.

About 2,000 people converged on the History Fair, organised by the Recorders of Uttlesford History and the first of its kind in the town for 25 years. In spite of a cold, wet day there were visitors from as far away as Cornwall, Wales and Wiltshire, who learned about the fair on the internet. There were also historians from all over Essex and Uttlesford villages, many of them interested in family history. The RUH had the feeling it was going to be a good day, but the results surpassed even their best hopes. What is more important is that the visitors all seemed to enjoy themselves so much, not only the history but also the delicious cakes on offer in the tea room!

Altogether 30 Recorders and local history organisations at the fair offered an insight into the fascinating history of the Uttlesford district. There were many original archives on show, photographic displays, digital presentations and archaeological objects. The Essex Record Office exhibits included a demonstration of techniques for conserving old documents, and workshops on family history. Saffron Walden Town Council also put on a display of their ancient town archives, which aroused a huge amount of interest. The event as a whole firmly put history and heritage on the Uttlesford map and raised the profile of the Recorders, who do essential work in their communities recording and conserving documents and promoting a love of history.

The free entry was much appreciated by visitors, and was possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of Uttlesford District Council, Waitrose Ltd, the Saffron Walden Initiative, Saffron Walden Round Table and local businesses – there was also strong support from the Essex Record Office, Saffron Walden Town Council and the Saffron Walden Arts Trust.

Publicity was brilliantly handled by Debbie Lowe, the Recorder for Wicken Bonhunt, the finances by Fiona Bengtsen, the Recorder for Manuden and general liaison by Jacqueline Cooper, Recorder for Clavering. There was also invaluable help from the Saffron Walden Recorders, Gordon Ridgewell and Zofia Everett, the Chesterfords Recorder, Kate McManus, Newport Recorder David Evans and Rosemarie Gant of Ashdon. Many volunteers helped on the day, not least a hard-working team on the tea stall led by Heather and Paul Salvidge of Elsenham




Click here to open the Brochure for the History Fair.


Photographs by Gordon Ridgewell