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The History of Sewards End

Welcome to the Sewards End Local History web site.  We hope you will browse
the pages of the site and learn a little more about the village of Sewards End

Walden Road 1921
Walden Road c. 1921
Walden Road
Walden Road 2007

Sewards End is a small ‘linear’ village on the B1053 some
2 miles east of the old Essex market town of Saffron Walden

In the 11th century Sewards End did not exist as a defined community.At that time there were four smaller communities around what would eventually become Sewards End.Probably the most influential at that time was Wills Ayley where Monks from Saffron Walden had been granted 60 acres of land in 1070.In 1090 Geoffrey de Mandeville, Lord of Saffron Walden, granted 60 cares of land to Sigesward reputedly his food taster.Ten years after his death in Belgium in 1114, his grandson, Albold de Pouncyn applied to have the land reinstated to him.Albold named the village in memory of his grandfather.

The monks of Wills Ayley acquired St Aylotts by 1248.Everyone had to serve the Monks and over the next 200 years they took over the village.

In the mid 14th century the Black Death reached Sewards end and the population of the village reduced from 400 to 100.

By the 15th century the monastery applied for and was granted the position of land recorders and they grabbed the titles of every available land holding.

Very early in the 16th century the village was amalgamated under the name of Sewers End.

However, the monks continued to dominate.Rents were high and men, women and children had to work 7 days a week in order to pay rent.Seeking wood for fuel or catching rabbits for food led to flogging or hanging.The citizens of Sewards End were virtual prisoners within the confines of the village as they had to pay at the toll gates set up around every exit and entry to the village.

In 1531 things were to change.Henry the VIII was on the throne and he severed links with Rome.The Act of Reformation outlawed the Monasteries.The people of Sewards End joined in with what was happening elsewhere.Monks were captured and hung or forced to flee and Monasteries were sacked.This is why there is no trace of the Monastery at Wills Ayley.

Aerial view of Sewards EndThe community’s name has changed over the centuries from Syward-hes-haund in 1286, Sewardsende in the mid 14th century and eventually to the name close to the one used today, Sewers End a name that continued until as late as 1911.

The past few decades has seen the nature of the village change from that of a rural community to that of a local dormitory village. There were two public houses until the Fox closed in the late 1960s, but the Green Dragon pub remained open with Betty Miles as the last landlady from February 1982 until October 1994 when it closed. The building was demolished and houses built on the site.

a garage and a post office village stores.All these are now gone and the sites they occupied have all been filled with residential buildings. Nevertheless Sewards End is a vibrant community with an active communal social life.

On the 1st April 2004 Sewards End became a civil parish; no longer part of the parish of Saffron Walden.

The old village hall was replaced with a new hall on a larger site in 1995 and in 2007, after many years of trying; the village was successful in obtaining a recreation ground adjacent to the site of the village hall.The village holds Sunday lunchtime drinks and refreshment events in the village hall on the first Sunday of every month.There is also an active Bowls Club, Youth Club, Carpet Bowls and Social Club, Women’s Institute and regular social events in the village hall.

Annually Sewards End hosts an Open Gardens day, a Horticultural Show and in recent years has revived a long standing tradition which ceased in the 80’s of holding a summer fete.

Some of the above was recorded by Joyce Harper in ‘Sewards End – Past and Present’ published in 2002 and by Beryl Thurgood published in Sewards End Village News