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The Saracen Head is on a historic tourist route with so many attractions on its doorstep.

 

 

Saffron Walden is a very attractive town and one of the finest preserved examples of a medieval market town. It’s quintessentially English and inside its outstanding conservation area you can find examples of every style of architecture from the 12th to the 21st century. There is plenty to keep you busy in Saffron Walden which bustles with interesting and unusual shops and a strong sense of history.

 

Close by is Audley End House which remains one of England’s grandest country homes. Inside there are over 30 lavishly decorated rooms to enjoy and explore. It was once a palace in all but name and renowned as one of the finest Jacobean houses in England. The sumptuous interior is largely due to the third Baron Braybrooke who inherited Audley End in 1825, filling it with treasures including paintings by masters like Holbein and Canaletto. A rare set of English tapestries by Soho weaver Paul Saunders is now on show after 30 years in store. Wander round the beautiful 19th-century parterre with its magnificent floral displays and imagine yourself back in Victorian times as you take a turn around the organic walled kitchen garden growing original fruit and vegetable varieties. Audley End miniature railway runs for 1.5 miles through the woodland. There is a picnic area and woodland walk.

 

Mole Hall Wildlife Park is in Widdington. 20 acres of grounds and gardens surround the original moated manor house that dates from 1287. The exotic collection of animals and birds includes chimpanzees, flamingos, cranes, owls, otters, wallabies and a tropical butterfly pavilion. The park is open from Easter onwards.

 

Stansted Mountfitchet Castle is now a heritage entertainment complex on the grounds of the original 12th century castle ruins. The castle is believed to have been an early Iron Age fort and Roman, Saxon and Viking settlement, as shown by artefacts from these periods which have been found there. In 1066 the site was attacked by the Normans and Robert Gernon, the Duke of Boulogne, built his castle here, making it his chief seat and the head of his barony. There is some evidence that Robert Gernon was a close relative of William the Conqueror. The Imperial War Museum at Duxford is a short drive away.