The ancient town of Thaxted in Essex, England, boasts one of the best preserved guild halls in the country. It sits in the middle of a busy thoroughfare as cars and trucks maneuver around the extraordinary building.
During the 14th century, Thaxted was known as a community with a high level of cutlers and those associated with the trade such as armorers, smithies and goldsmiths. Poll Tax records of 1381 show there were approximately 249 male tradesmen, seventy-eight of whom were cutlers.
There is no record of the guild hall in the survey of 1393, so we can safely assume the site became available to the cutlers around the turn of the century (c.1400). They built the magnificent guildhall as a meeting place and center where their goods could be displayed for purchase. The square design of the building has three timber framed upper floors and a basement. Each floor is jettisoned over the floor below, and is typical of homes built in the medieval period. The guildhall is located in a key position at the junction of four streets and still dominates the village of Thaxted to this day.
Following is an excerpt from Extraordinary Places...Close to London
The Church of St. John the Baptist, St. Mary and St. Lawrence
The church is quite exquisite and still dominates the town. It has been described as one of the most beautiful and architecturally pleasing in the country. The foundations were laid and work began on the church in 1340 and it was completed in 1510. No one knows for sure who the original benefactors of the church were but the Cutlers, townspeople and the House of Clare who owned the Manor were all thought to be instrumental in its construction. The influential family of the House of Clare had connections to the Crown, so it is assumed that royalty also contributed to the initial funds.