Finchingfield’s friendly faces

PUBLISHED: 10:15 11 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:38 20 February 2013

A lesson in Astrology

A lesson in Astrology

Finchingfield has become a tourist honey pot thanks to its charming character. Joanne Jarvis meets its residents who feel privileged to be part of this community

IT IS no wonder that Finchingfield is regarded as one of the most photographed villages in England.

Situated between Saffron Walden and Braintree, the focal point of the picture-postcard village is the duck pond and village green which is surrounded by timber-framed Georgian and medieval cottages and shops.

While sitting on the village green, looking towards The Causeway Tea Cottage, you can see St John the Baptist church nestled on top of a road climbing a hill on the right and a windmill to the left which dates back to the mid to late 1700s.

Although the village is small with a population of around 1,300 residents, it is perfectly formed and is home to three public houses, a hall, a primary school, a Post Office, a grocery store and a doctor's surgery.
But it is thanks to the close-knit community working together that the village has been able to preserve its chocolate box charm. Here Joanne Jarvis meets some of the village's most esteemed residents.

Alec and Jenny James
Owners of the village Post Office

AS IT enters the 21st century there have been few changes in the fabric of the village, but Alec James believes the way of life and the community has changed dramatically.

'Spains Hall, which dates back to the early 15th century, was the hub of the community by owning most of the properties and employing most of the inhabitants,' says Alec. 'But in the last 50 years, with the advancement of transport and communications, the village has now three main types of inhabitants - those who have lived and worked in the area all their lives, those who have come into the village to work locally or to retire and commuters.

'Village life centres round the many clubs and organisations within the community and Jen and I have become members of The Finchingfield Society, the Horticultural Society and the Royal British Legion. Jen is also an active committee member of the Flower Club and the 100 Club and I have joined the Parish Council - we are trying to help put back what we took from the welcoming and friendly people of Finchingfield. And when we retire shortly, it will be to Finchingfield.'

Christine and Hugh Ashford-Hodges
Owners of The Causeway Tea Cottage

CHRISTINE and Hugh Ashford-Hodges moved to Finchingfield ten years ago searching for a better quality of life.They had high-powered jobs as a textile buyer and a Lloyd's broker travelling around the world, but decided to give it up in favour of a quieter life in the countryside so they bought The Causeway Tea Cottage which dates back to 1490.

Christine explains: 'We were fed up of commuting and decided to give it up for the tearooms. But although it's nice to walk down the stairs and be at work we have a different kind of pressure. We open up at 10am but I am in the kitchen for at least three hours beforehand cooking.'
Christine is renowned for her scones which she makes around 15,000 of each year, some of which are supplied to Finchingfield Cricket Club. People travel as far as 50 miles to visit the tea rooms which have been operating in the village for the past 60 years.

'It's a lovely village and we believe we have the best view overlooking the green and pond,' Christine adds. 'We look after each other in Finchingfield and 60% of our customers are regulars.'

Paula Hagan
Headteacher of Finchingfield Church of England Primary School

PAULA HAGAN joined the school in September 2005 and although it is small, she views it as having, 'a big heart and being an integral part of village life'. 'I remember on first entering the school I described it as being like a dolls house that you had when you were a child,' explains Paula.

Since then the school has benefited from a number of changes not just in terms of the building but also in resources and a creative curriculum. 'I am pleased to have been part of these developments, bringing the school into the 21st century,' adds Paula. 'But I firmly believe that many of these changes could not have happened without the tremendous support of our parents and families who work with the school - a real strength of our school community and one of the many reasons that working in a village primary school is so rewarding.'

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