Great Baddow

Coordinates: 51°43′08″N 0°30′25″E / 51.719°N 0.507°E / 51.719; 0.507
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Bell Street, Great Baddow
Great Baddow is located in Essex
Great Baddow
Great Baddow
Location within Essex
Population14,650 (2011 Census)[1]
OS grid referenceTL731052
Civil parish
  • Great Baddow
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtCM2
Dialling code01245
AmbulanceEast of England
List of places
51°43′08″N 0°30′25″E / 51.719°N 0.507°E / 51.719; 0.507

Great Baddow is an urban village and civil parish in the Chelmsford borough of Essex, England. It is close to the city of Chelmsford and, with a population of over 13,000,[2] is one of the largest villages in the country.


Great Baddow's name is believed to have been derived from the River Beadwan, now known as the River Chelmer, which marks the northern boundary of the village. Beadwan is thought to be a Celtic word of uncertain meaning,[3] possibly birch stream or a reference to the goddess Badbh.[2]

In the Saxon period, the manor of Great Baddow was held by the Earls of Mercia and in the 13th century by Robert de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale whose widow launched a legal challenge over its ownership on his death in March 1295.[4][5] After passing to the Crown, Henry VIII later granted it to Catherine of Aragon. During the reign of Edward VI, it was held by the Paschals, before being sold to J.A. Houblon in 1736.

According to information in the local Church of St Mary, the rebel leader Jack Straw led an ill-fated crowd (the men of Essex) from the churchyard to London, in one of the risings in the 1381 Peasants' Revolt.

In 1731, Jasper Jeffrey founded Great Baddow Free School and, in 1830, two National Schools were built. By 1933, there were 7 daily schools, 2 daily and Sunday schools, and a further 2 boarding schools.

Great Baddow is recorded as having had a population of 1,445 in 1801, a figure that had risen to 2,022 in 1841. White's Directory of Essex 1848 reports Great Baddow as being 'one of the handsomest villages in Essex' having 'many scattered farms and neat houses', also noting that it had an annual pleasure fair on 14 May.

William Calcraft, the hangman and a cobbler by trade, was born at Baddow in 1800.[6]

Following the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, responsibility for the poor of Great Baddow was removed from the parish and transferred to the Chelmsford Union on 10 August 1835.[7]

The Post Office Directory of Essex 1851, which lists the principal residents and trade persons of the parish of Great Baddow, includes 24 farmers, 8 beer retailers, 4 shoemakers, 3 blacksmith, 2 dressmakers and notes that the vicar is residing in the Vineyards.

The former Chain Home radar transmitter tower, in the grounds of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence Laboratories, Great Baddow – a prominent local landmark

The Great Baddow Mast – a former Chain Home radar transmitter tower, originally sited at RAF Canewdon – was moved to the outskirts of Great Baddow at around 1954 and is used by BAE Systems for equipment testing.[8] The last remaining example of a Chain Home tower maintaining its platforms, it was made a listed building by Historic England in October 2019 and given a Grade II status.[9]


During the early part of the 20th century, Great Baddow grew through ribbon development towards Chelmsford and Galleywood. In 1936, Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company opened the Marconi Research Laboratory in Great Baddow (now BAE Systems Applied Intelligence Laboratories), bringing together their various radio, television and telephony research teams in a single location.[10] As the electronics industry developed, the campus expanded during the 1940s and 1950s to include research into radar, general physics, high voltage, vacuum physics and semiconductors.[10] Great Baddow expanded considerably in the 1950s with the construction of Rothmans Estate, which provided housing for workers at Marconi's and English Electric Valve Company in Chelmsford.[11] The village has continued to expand over subsequent years.

The Vineyards, in the centre of the old village, was once a Georgian house set in wooded grounds[12] which later became a hotel. It was demolished in the mid-1960s[13] before the advent of conservation legislation,[12] to make way for the construction of the Vineyards shopping centre and later the Marrable House office block, both constructed with a 'scale, form, layout and architecture' that Chelmsford Council now considers to 'jar with its historic surroundings'.[12] Despite this, the shopping centre continues to thrive[12] and, since refurbishment in the 2000s, the flats above are highly regarded and sought-after properties.[citation needed] Marrable House, a six-storey office block was described at the time of its construction in 1968 as "one of the worst examples of town and country planning in the country"[14] and subsequently once voted as one of England's ugliest buildings,[13][15] was demolished in the Spring of 2016,[16] and was replaced with a 53-flat development, made up of one to two bedrooms in two buildings, named Heron Gate; the development was completed in spring 2018.[17][18] A corner of the grounds of the former Vineyards mansion were retained and form a green area to the west of the Vineyards development.[12] A library was also opened on the western edge of the development in September 1981, replacing the former building in Bell Street.[19]

In 1967, a fire station was opened in Great Baddow to replace the former station which occupied a converted hut in Brewery Fields, Galleywood; it was once part of the Galleywood race course complex.

Great Baddow has three pubs: the White Horse, Blue Lion and The Star; The Beehive and King's Head pubs have closed in recent times. There is also a family-run brewery, the Chelmsford Brewing Company.[20] The former Baddow Brewery, previously owned by the Baddow Brewery Co Ltd,[21] built in 1868 and extended in 1878 by George Scamell, is now a Grade II building and houses local businesses.[22][23] Great Baddow is also home to the Pontlands Park Country Hotel and the Baddow Antique Centre.

The centre of Great Baddow is now a conservation area and contains over 30 listed buildings.


Great Baddow lies to the south east to central Chelmsford, on higher ground that is thought to mark the edge of the main ice mass during the Anglian glaciation.[24] An outcrop of glacial sand and gravel 3 km long and 0.8 km wide is beneath the village, which used to be extracted from several pits in the area, including Beehive Pit (now beneath Harbeard Tye), Baddow Hall Pit (now beneath Baden-Powell Close), to the south of the A1114 Princes Road (now in the grounds of Moulsham High School) and on what is now an area of open land off Waterson Vale.[24] Smaller pits were also located off the Galleywood Road (near what is now Hollywood Close)[24] and off Pitt Chase. The area is overlain with head, while the lower levels of the sand and gravel are mixed with London Clay.[24] A Sarsen stone from the Beehive Pit used to stand outside The Beehive pub.[24]


The village secondary school is Great Baddow High School, a sports and science college on Duffield Road. Primary schools include Baddow Hall Infant and Junior Schools at the border of Great Baddow, Beehive Lane County Primary School, Larkrise Primary School, (formerly Rothmans Primary School), and Meadgate County Primary Schools.

Nearby villages include[edit]


  1. ^ "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 19 October 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b Great Baddow Parish Council, published 2005, accessed 2011-10-13
  3. ^ "Great Baddow". Key to English Place-names. English Place-Name Society. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  4. ^ Sayles, G.O. (1983). Scripta Diversa. History series. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-8264-3850-8.
  5. ^ Richardson, D.; Everingham, K.G. (2005). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Coloncial And Medieval Families. Royal Ancestry Series. Genealogical Publishing Company. p. 733. ISBN 978-0-8063-1759-5.
  6. ^ Griffiths, Arthur George Frederick (1884), The Chronicles of Newgate vol. 2, pp. 411-415
  7. ^ Seax – Catalogue: G/Ch Chelmsford Union Essex Record Soffice, accessed 2011-10-13
  8. ^ The Great Baddow Mast Archived 7 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Chelmsford Borough Council Planning and Building Control Services, published May 2009, accessed 2011-10-13
  9. ^ "Chain Home tower at Great Baddow, Great Baddow – 1456445 | Historic England". Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  10. ^ a b Birthplace of Radio Archived 25 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Invest Essex, accessed 2011-10-13
  11. ^ Stothard, Peter (Winter 2009). "Essex Clay". Granta. Archived from the original on 23 May 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  12. ^ a b c d e Planning Brief, The Vineyards Archived 3 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine Chelmsford Borough Council Town Planning Services, June 2004, accessed 2011-10-13
  13. ^ a b THE issue on everyone's lips at the moment in Great Baddow – the demolition of Marrable House – was exactly the same this time 50 years ago. Archived 3 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine This is Essex, published 2011-02-17, accessed 2011-10-13
  14. ^ Protestors triumph as Vineyards plan rejected Chelmsford Weekly News, published 2010-06-25, accessed 2011-10-13
  15. ^ Plans to demolish 'ugliest building' in doubt Essex Chronicle, published 2010-06-24, accessed 2011-10-13
  16. ^[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Overview of Heron Gate in Great Baddow, Chelmsford, Essex | Weston Homes". Archived from the original on 12 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Marrable "Ugliest Building" House Demolished for Heron Gate Development". 13 April 2016.
  19. ^ Great Baddow Library Celebrates 20 Years published September 2011, accessed 2011-10-13
  20. ^ "Welcome".
  21. ^ Baddow Brewery Co Ltd The National Archives, accessed 2011-10-13
  22. ^ A Survey of the Brewery Heritage of Essex, Brewery History: 111, pp. 15-34, Tony Crosby, published 2003, accessed 2011-10-13
  23. ^ Great Baddow Village Website
  24. ^ a b c d e Geology of the county around Chelmsford, British Geological Survey, CR Bristow, published HMSO 1985, ISBN 0-11-884335-4

External links[edit]