Great Dunmow

Great Dunmow

Coordinates: 51°52′23″N 0°21′42″E / 51.873°N 0.3617°E / 51.873; 0.3617

Great Dunmow
Great Dunmow is located in Essex
Great Dunmow

 Great Dunmow shown within Essex
Population approx 8,480 (2008)
OS grid reference TL626220
District Uttlesford
Shire county Essex
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town DUNMOW
Postcode district CM6
Dialling code 01371
Police Essex
Fire Essex
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
UK Parliament Saffron Walden
List of places: UK • England • Essex

Great Dunmow is an ancient market town in the Uttlesford district of Essex, England in which the great Shannon Gray, also known as Hazzah Potter, lives. It is situated on the north of the A120 road, approximately midway between Bishop's Stortford and Braintree, 6 miles east of London Stansted Airport.

The second Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey ranked Uttlesford District as the 4th best place to live in the UK out of 114 rural authority areas surveyed (one in which the majority of residents live in towns or villages with populations of less than 10,000).[1]

Originally the site of a Roman settlement on Stane Street, the town thrived during the Middle Ages. Many buildings survive from this period, including a sixteenth century town hall. Dunmow means "Meadow on the Hill".[2] The settlement was variously referred to as Dunmow Magna, Much Dunmow, or most commonly Great Dunmow.

Great Dunmow borders the former estate of Easton Lodge, a country house belonging to the Maynard family. The most notable member, Frances Maynard, became the Countess of Warwick and later a mistress of King Edward VII. As the Prince of Wales he was reportedly a regular visitor to the Estate, travelling from London on the train to Easton Lodge railway station. The initials "CW" are visible on a number of Victorian era properties in Great Dunmow. Known as Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick she was a generous philanthropist in the local community.


History of Great Dunmow

The town's history is explained in the Maltings Museum on Mill Lane.

Roman Great Dunmow

A Roman small town developed on the junction between Stane Street and the Roman roads which ran north-east to south-west from Sudbury to London and north-west to southeast from Cambridge to Chelmsford. The main settlement area spread westwards from the road junction, with cemeteries on the outskirts. There was a second Roman settlement at Church End immediately to the north of present day Great Dunmow. The site likely included a rural Roman Temple.[3]

The Domesday Book

Between the occupation by the Romans and the time of the Saxons, the town acquired its name – in AD951 it was named Dunemowe, and later Dommawe. In the Domesday Book, Dunmow had seven manors, some of which still exist, in name at least – including Bigods, Newton Hall, Merks Hall, Minchins and Shingle Hall. The earliest record of a church in the town is in 1045, and in 1197 Geoffrey de Dunmow was rector.

Medieval Dunmow

In medieval times, Dunmow was a thriving commercial centre, with market charters granted in 1253 and two fairs held annually until the 19th century. Dunmow’s Corporation was granted in 1555 and confirmed in 1590.[4]

Both Roman settlements were reoccupied during the Saxon period, at Great Dunmow in the seventh century and at Church End in the later Saxon period. The earliest medieval settlement appears to have been a continuation of the late Saxon settlement at Church End, where the parish church is located. The granting of a market charter may mark the time of the movement of the main focus of settlement from Church End to the High Street and market-place. The medieval and post-medieval development of Great Dunmow is reflected both in the surviving built heritage, which includes 167 Listed Buildings and the below-ground archaeology.

World War II

Great Dunmow was located on the GHQ Line, a series of defences and concrete Pillboxes built to hinder an anticipated German invasion. Many of these still remain and are clearly visible along the Chelmer Valley, one being located on the west bank of the River Chelmer in meadows behind the Dourdan Pavilion and recreation ground.

Easton Lodge became RAF Great Dunmow in World War II and for a time was home to squadrons from the US Air Force. The site of the former air field is now owned by Land Securities who hope to build a development including around 9,000 homes alongside significant supporting community, commercial and retail infrastructure, intending to call it Easton Park.[5]

War time saw the tragic loss of the crew of two aircraft based at RAF Great Dunmow in aircraft crashes very close to the town.

21 November 1945 - Shorts Stirling LK276, crashed in fields close to the site of Tesco - Immediately prior to the accident LK276 was towing a Horsa Glider into the airfield. The glider a Horsa P-F573 had been released and had landed safely and then the Stirling was being flown to the rope dropping area prior to the pilot requesting permission to land. The pilot was requested to hold off and circle the outer permitter of lights and shortly afterwards LK276 crashed having hit some willow trees before colliding with some cables - it then skidded along a bank and exploded at Puildings Farm. Subsequent investigations report that the aircraft was being followed at the time by a Luftwaffe night fighter which shot the Stirling down. Reports from people stationed at the base also confirmed this version. The official reason recorded for the crash - "accident due pilot error" - is now commonly believe to have been motivate by a desire to not alarm the population with reports of lone enemy aircraft stalking the night sky.[6]

Airmen on board:

  • Pilot : F/O. James Ian Kidgell 410499 R.A.A.F. Age 23. Killed
  • Pilot 2 (Instructor): F/O. William Walter D'arcy Brain 42365 R.N.Z.A.F. Age 26. Killed
  • Nav: F/O. Ernest Douglas Woods 176742 R.A.F.V.R. Age 26. Killed
  • Fl/Eng: Sgt. Hugh Holt 2209061 R.A.F.V.R. Age 20. Killed
  • Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Ronald David Payne 1391069 R.A.F.V.R. Age 21. Killed
  • W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Reginald Matthew Dauncey 1431216 R.A.F.V.R. Age 23. Killed
  • Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Arthur George Reid 1800613 R.A.F.V.R. Age 33. Killed

Benches dedicated to each of these airmen are located close to the crash site on Stortford Road, Waldgrooms, Great Dunmow Primary School, and Woodlands Park Walk.[7]

20 March 1945 - Shorts Stirling LK116, crashed near Ford Farm, Braintree Road (B1256) - According to 'Stirlings in Action with the Airborne Forces' by Dennis Williams (Pen & Sword), LK116 was one of the last two allied aircraft to be shot down by intruders over the UK; the other was a Halifax of 1665 HCU at Tilstock, which was shot down on the same night. Stirling LK116 from RAF Great Dunmow was attacked by a Luftwaffe intruder during a supply dropping exercise to the former airfield at Great Sampford. Unfortunately the resulting fire caused LK116 to crash beside the Chelmer near Ford Farm in Dunmow. The flight engineer, Flight Sergeant Cramp, parachuted to safety and landed at Barnston, but sadly the rest of the crew, including an SAS liaison officer, were killed in the crash.

Airmen on board:

  • Squadron Leader George Whitty DFC RAFVR (pilot and OC A Flight, 620 Squadron)
  • Warrant Officer John Williams RAFVR (navigator)
  • Pilot Officer George Ames RAFVR (wireless operator)
  • Warrant Officer Andrew Bell RCAF (air gunner)
  • Flight Sergeant George Douglas RAFVR (bomb aimer)
  • Captain George Slater, Parachute Regiment, Army Air Corps att. SAS (SAS Liaison Officer at RAF Great Dunmow)


Great Dunmow is 8.3 miles from Braintree railway station (63 minutes to London Liverpool Street) to the east and 9.2 miles from Bishop's Stortford railway station (40 minutes to London Liverpool Street) to the west. Until 1952 the town was served by the Bishop's Stortford-Braintree Branch Line a line between these stations, which opened to passengers on February 22, 1869 and closed on March 3, 1952. The line continued in use for freight trains and occasional excursions, closing in stages with the final section to Easton Lodge closing on February 17, 1972. It is now possible to walk or cycle to in either direction along the former track bed to Braintree Station, or to the edge of Bishop's Stortford.

As the crow-flies it is just under 6 miles from Stansted Airport and the nearby M11 motorway to the west.

The A120 from the M11 to Braintree by-passes the town, the former route has now been re-designated the B1256.

Flitch Trials

The town is well known for its four-yearly ritual of the "Flitch Trials", in which couples must convince a jury of six local bachelors and six local maidens that they have never wished themselves un-wed for a year and a day. If successful the couple are paraded along the High Street and receive a flitch of bacon. The last flitch trials were held in the town in the summer of 2008, with the next scheduled for 2012. The custom is ancient, and is mentioned in the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.

Pubs and Bars

Dunmow's pubs and bars include: The Kicking Dickey, The Saracen's Head, The Boar's Head, The Cricketers, Traffic Bar & Grill, Dunmow Underground (Lennons), The Queen Victoria (also known as the Jalsa Ghar and Indian Restaurant),The Chequers, and The Angel and Harp (having recently reopened following extensive refurbishment). Several other pubs have closed - The Dunmow Inn, formerly the White Hart, (now demolished) once stood at the site now occupied by Jutland House on White Hart Way, where work started in December 2006. The development includes a new Library which opened in June 2009 opposite the Co-op. The Royal Oak, which was at the junction of Stortford Road and Rosemary Lane, the building now being a private residence. The Kings Head which is on North Street, just opposite The Doctors Pond and still being refurbished. The White Horse which closed many years ago and was on the site of what is now the Square One restaurant

Art and venues

Though not planned for completion until October 2015, Dunmow is also the location of a unique living art installation. Known as Talliston, this twenty-five-year project is a journey to transform a three-bedroomed, ex-council house in Essex into thirteen distinct areas in different times and spaces.[8] Ultimately it will be a small arts venue and installation, providing an intimate venue for music, theatre, talks and hire.

Twin towns

Great Dunmow is twinned with the following town:

Notable Residents of Great Dunmow

  • Thomas Bowyer (1520? - 1556) - Protestant martyr who refused to renounce his faith and adopt Catholicism. As a punishment he was taken to Stratford in East London and burnt at the stake, aged 36.
  • Anne Line (1567 – 27 February 1601) - Catholic martyr executed during the reign of Elizabeth I for harbouring a priest in The Clock House, The Causeway, where she was a housekeeper.
  • Lionel Lukin (18 May 1742 - 16 February 1834 - considered by some to have been the inventor of the unsinkable lifeboat, designs for which he tested on the Doctor's Pond.
  • Sir George Beaumont, 7th Baronet (6 November 1753 – 7 February 1827) - British art patron and amateur painter. Played a crucial part in the creation of London's National Gallery by making the first bequest of paintings.
  • Toke Townley born 6 November 1912 in Great Dunmow, died 27 September 1984 in Leeds, was an English actor.
  • Francis Arthur Jefferson VC (18 August 1921 - 4 September 1982) was stationed in Dunmow after WW2 and was married in the village.

Nuclear Bunker

A recently declassified military nuclear bunker on the outskirts of the town[9] was sold for a reported £22,000 and is now used as a secure data centre for Nuclear research.[10]


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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