Finchingfield looking East
Finchingfield shown within Essex
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Finchingfield is a village in the Braintree district in north-west Essex, a primarily rural area. It is approximately six miles from Thaxted, further from the larger towns of Saffron Walden and Braintree.
There has been a settlement in Finchingfield since historical records of the area began. There also is archaeological evidence for a Roman villa 400 metres south-south-west of the village church, and during the time of William the Conqueror it was called Phincingfelda.
The village was an official stop for horse-drawn coaches travelling from London to Norwich. Spains Hall, the nearby Elizabethan country house, was built in the early fifteenth century. The hall is named after Hervey de Ispania, who held the manor at the time of the Domesday Book in 1086. Since then, the land has been owned by three families: the de Ispania family, the Kempe family, who acquired it when Margery de Ispania married Nicholas Kempe in the early fifteenth century, and the Ruggles family (later the Ruggles-Brise family who reside there today). The hall was the hub of the community, those families owning much of the village, and employing most of the villagers.
Society and leisure
There are many societies and clubs founded in Finchingfield, including The Finchingfield Society, the Horticultural Society, the Royal British Legion, and Finchingfield Cricket Club.
It often is called the most beautiful village in England, a 'picture-postcard' village and one of the most photographed, with a duck pond and village green surrounded by Georgian and medieval cottages; St John the Baptist Church on the hill; an eighteenth-century windmill; three public houses; tea rooms; a hall; a primary school; and a doctor's surgery. It often has appeared in television programmes, films, and commercials, as well as on chocolate boxes, biscuit tins, and other quality products.
It was the later home and resting place of Dodie Smith, whose books include The Hundred and One Dalmatians (1956). She lived in The Barretts at Howe Street, a hamlet in the parish about 1.35 miles (2.2 km) from the village.
Notable people from Finchingfield
- Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel
- Norman Lewis, travel writer, novelist, founder of Survival International
- Dodie Smith, author of The Hundred and One Dalmatians 
- A.J.A. Symons, 1900-1941,founder of The First Edition Club and co-founder of The Wine and Food Society; also author of The Quest for Corvo, a highly original 'experiment in biography' whose subject is English literary genius Frederick Rolfe, aka Baron Corvo, 1860-1913
Finchingfield Guildhall (before 2011-2013 restoration)
- Jarvis, Joanne (November 2008). "Finchingfield's friendly faces". Essex Life (Archant). pp. 78–79. Retrieved 24 January 2009. (Registration required)
- "Cruella's 'home' up for sale". BBC News (BBC). 25 September 2002. Retrieved 24 January 2009.
- Clifford-Smith, Stephanie (22 March 2008). "Village trials". The Australian (News Limited). Retrieved 24 January 2009.
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