A Brief History of Wimbish


The parish of Wimbish covers approximately 16 square miles and consists of several hamlets, including Tye Green, Upper and Lower Green (or Wimbish Green), Howlett End, Elder Street and Cole End.

It first appears in written records as an inhabited place in Anglo-Saxon times. Formerly Wimbish with Thunderley, the parish adjoins the SE boundary of the market town of Saffron Walden.

Rev William Harrison, rector of Radwinter and vicar of Wimbish 1571-1581, writes in his book ‘A Description of England’ that its name in Saxon times was Gwimbach (or Winbeche).

The lordship of Wimbish was given to Ralph Bayard after the Norman Conquest. The parishes of Wimbish and Thunderley became one in 1425.

Wimbish had three manors in the 14th century. Wimbish Hall was home to the Fitzwalters. Tiptofts with Pinkneys derives its names from the Tiptofts or Tiptotes family and Robert of Pinkeneye who held tenure of part of the manor. The original Tiptofts was built c.1330 and Pinkneys probably during the 16th century. Broadoaks, built c.1560 and once surrounded by a deer park, is perhaps best known for its priest-hole which hid Father John Gerrard from Jesuit Pursuivants. There were also three manors in Thunderley – Thunderley Hall, Abbots which once belonged to Walden Abbey, and the lost manor of Dales or Caldicotes.

All Saints’ 12th century church was built by a Fitzwalter. The nave was probably extended in the 13th century, when the north aisle was added. In 1340 the north chapel was built and is believed to incorporate materials from the lost Thunderley church. The tower was destroyed by lightning in 1740 and a subsequent steeple pulled down in 1883. The brasses in the north aisle are some of the oldest in Essex, depicting Sir John de Wantone died 1347 and wife Ellen.

The historic economy was due mainly to agriculture and associated trades. Wimbish had two flour mills and two blacksmiths’ shops. In the 18th century there was a workhouse at Howlett End and an almshouse once existed near to Elms Farm. A Tithe Barn at Parsonage Farm stood on what was once rectorial glebe land and in Howlett End, a parish barn, no longer standing, housed crops grown by villagers.

Karen Hepworth
Wimbish Local History Recorde