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Broxted History

Broxted is a well-wooded parish with good views as it is on a ridge of high ground between the valleys of the Cam and Stort and Chelmer. Broxted Hill is the highest point for miles around. According to P.H. Reaney’s Place Names of Essex, the name can be found in Domesday 1086 as Brocchesheuot 1086 Domesday, meaning ‘badger’s head’ from the old words ‘brocc’ and ‘heafod’.

St Mary’s Church at Broxted is a place of contrasts – for while its churchyard is utterly beautiful with wonderful views – the peace and calm is regularly shattered by planes flying low overhead, for this is a village much affected by Stansted Airport nearby, such a pity as it is such an attractive part of Uttlesford.

Not without irony, is that inside the ancient church, there is one of the most moving of all church monuments, a testament to human spirit – commonly known as ‘The Hostage Windows’, vibrant stained glass windows made by John K. Clark and placed here in 1993. They commemorate the story of captivity and ultimate freedom of John McCarthy, whose family was associated with this parish.

The church itself goes back to the 13th century and contains many other interesting things – a weatherboarded belfry, two 16th century brick windows in the nave, a processional cross and a fine oak pulpit. Roman tiles can be seen built into the walls. Inside, as Arthur Mee’s Essex puts it, can be found a 1791 monument where ‘a quaint inscription to Thomas Bush of Westminster tells in stately language how he judiciously bequeathed his fortune among his relatives in such manner as to place them above the cares but below the dangerous indulgences of life’.

Among some interesting buildings round about is the 16th century church hall, now the Whitehall Hotel near the church, and 17th century barns. Not far away is the Victorian Old Vicarage. Pevsner’s Essex gives a good description of Hill Pasture, a 20th century house and garden of great interest.

Broxted also includes the hamlets of Chaureth Green (named after Godfrey de Chauri recorded in 1207), Brick End (so named in 1777), Chapel End (which relates to a chapel in the 13th century court of William de Arderne), Sugsty Green (Sucksted Green in 1523) and Brook End (from Richard atte Brok of 1327). Many other place names can also be traced to medieval times: Moore End to Geoffrey de la More (1332); Woodgates End to Robert atte Wodegate 1319.

Cherry Hall was Ceauride in 1086, meaning Ceawa’s brook; Baldwins comes from John Baldewyne (1255); Cobbs Wood from Robert Cobbe of the 13th century; Flemings Hill from Richard Flemmyng 1327; Furnells Wood from Ralph de Furnell 1208; Garrolds from John Gerold 1327; Broadwater Ford was le Brodewatere 13th century; Fan Wood from William Ateffen 1381; Mill Field from Melefeld 14th century; Rosleys from Ruggel 13th century; Woolpits from Wipittes 14th century.

Also in the area, partly in Broxted parish and partly in Thaxted, is Horham Hall, one of the finest old brick mansions in Essex, built by Sir John Cutte, Under Treasurer of England, in 1505, incorporating a 15th century house. This is a fabulous house, full of features – a turreted tower, crow-stepped gable, castellated parapets, cupola, oriel window. A lot of the ancient moat remains.

horham hall

Another Sir John Cutte entertained Elizabeth I here in 1571 and 1578. The house then went through various owners but was left empty for a long period in the 19th century before being sold in 1905 to the Humphry family. During WW2 the house was used as a Barnardo’s home, then postwar was bought by war hero and Arctic explorer, Sir George Binney. In 1968 the house was separated from the landed estate, which included Sharpes, Armigers and Loves farms, and was purchased by the Ward-Thomas family, Mrs. Ward-Thomas known as the novelist Evelyn Anthony. During their time, it was a venue for many charitable and social events, and many people since then have been able to enjoy the beauties of this very special house and its gardens.