Interaction and innovation
PUBLISHED: 10:38 13 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:42 20 February 2013
Robert Smith from Interface magazine reveals how the growing parishes of Felsted and Little Dunmow are getting together and going green
THE picturesque villages of Felsted and Little Dunmow in the north west of Essex lay south of the A120 and sit on the north bank of the River Chelmer as it leaves Great Dunmow and turns south towards Chelmsford.
The villages are packed with history. The Priory Church at Little Dunmow was the home of an Augustinian Order of Cannons from 1106 to 1536 and was where the famous Flitch Trials originated. The Priory is also the resting place of Robert 3rd Baron Fitzwalter who led the rebellion against King John leading to the signing of the Magna Carta.
The two parishes are linked by the Flitch Way Country Park, a former railway branch line. Felsted has links to Lord Riche who founded the public school and is buried in Holy Cross Church. Felsted School also has links to Oliver Cromwell who sent his sons there.
The valley between the two ancient villages was home to the county's only sugar beet factory, the site of which is now being re-developed for housing creating the new community of Flitch Green. The two parishes are unusual as they are home to five schools, three private and two local authority primary schools. One of these, Flitch Green Primary School opened during the autumn term of 2008 and was built to an eco-friendly design. During the summer all the schools joined together with the other community groups to hold the first Felsted Carnival.
The villages enjoy vibrant communities and there is always something to do. There are two friendship clubs for the retired, a garden club, a youth club, a choral society, and an active Royal British Legion club to name just a few.
If the round of social activity leaves the residents thirsty, then there are four excellent pubs, and if you feel peckish then there are also three restaurants catering for a wide range of tastes.
The centre of Felsted boasts the services of a busy village store, a deli, an antiques shop, an art gallery and an estate agent. And if you are looking for a nice place to stay while visiting, that's covered too with a range of excellent bed and breakfast accommodation available throughout the villages.
There is a growing community, with 700 homes being built on the old sugar beet factory site, doubling the local population. The local churches, under the leadership of Reverend Colin Taylor, have started a Growing Together programme of events to help people meet. These events include Mondays at The Swan with the different Mondays being themed evenings to attract different groups within the community. There is also a film evening, complete with popcorn, called Watch and Wonder which was launched in November.
Of course, residents of Felsted and Little Dunmow are kept informed of all these goings on by Interface, the parish magazine produced by the local churches and winner of the Best New Entry Award at the Essex Life Community Magazine Awards 2008.