Great Dunmow

Coordinates: 51°52′16″N 0°21′50″E / 51.871°N 0.364°E / 51.871; 0.364
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Great Dunmow
High Street, Great Dunmow
Great Dunmow is located in Essex
Great Dunmow
Great Dunmow
Location within Essex
Population10,396 (2021 census)[1]
OS grid referenceTL628218
Civil parish
  • Great Dunmow[2]
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townDUNMOW
Postcode districtCM6
Dialling code01371
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°52′16″N 0°21′50″E / 51.871°N 0.364°E / 51.871; 0.364

Great Dunmow is a historic market town and civil parish in the Uttlesford district of Essex, England. It lies to the north of the A120 road, approximately midway between Bishop's Stortford and Braintree, 5 mi (8 km) east of London Stansted Airport.

Originally the site of a Roman settlement on Stane Street, the town thrived during the Middle Ages. Dunmow means "Meadow on the Hill".[3] The settlement was variously referred to as Dunmow Magna, Much Dunmow, or most commonly Great Dunmow.


Old Town Hall
Doctor's Pond, Great Dunmow
Arms of Great Dunmow Parish Council
CrestOn a wreath of the colours on a Woolpack proper a boar passant Azure armed unguled and charged on the flank with three crescents two and one Or holding in the mouth three stalks of barley and a spray of hops also Proper.
ShieldGules a Chevron between in chief two Fleurs-de-Lys and in base a Lion rampant Or grasping in the dexter forepaw a Civic Mace Argent a Pomegranate slipped leaved and seeded proper between two Mascles chevronwise of the first.
MottoMay Dunmow Prosper
Granted 20 April 1956 [4]

A Roman small town developed on the junction between Stane Street and the Roman roads which ran northeast to southwest from Sudbury to London, and northwest to southeast from Cambridge to Chelmsford. The main settlement area spread westwards from the road junction, with cemeteries on the outskirts. There was a second Roman settlement at Church End immediately to the north of present-day Great Dunmow; the site likely included a rural Roman Temple.[5]

Between the occupation by the Romans and the time of the Saxons, the town acquired its name: in AD951 it was named Dunemowe, and later Dommawe. In the Domesday Book of 1086, the area including Great Dunmow and Little Dunmow had seven manors.[6] Some of these still exist – in name at least – including Bigods, Newton Hall (seat of the Henniker baronets), Merks Hall, Minchins and Shingle Hall. The earliest record of a church in the town is in 1045, and in 1197 Geoffrey de Dunmow was rector.[citation needed]

In medieval times, Dunmow was a thriving commercial centre, with market charters granted in 1253 and two fairs held annually until the 19th century. Dunmow's Corporation was granted in 1555 and confirmed in 1590.[7]

Both Roman settlements were re-occupied during the Saxon period, at Great Dunmow in the seventh century and at Church End in the later Saxon period. The earliest medieval settlement appears to have been a continuation of the late Saxon settlement at Church End, where the parish church stands. The granting of a market charter may mark the time of the movement of the main focus of settlement from Church End to the High Street and market-place. The medieval and post-medieval development of Great Dunmow is reflected both in the surviving built heritage, which includes 167 listed buildings, and the below-ground archaeology.[citation needed]

Great Dunmow was on the GHQ Line, a series of defences and concrete pillboxes built to hinder an anticipated German invasion in the Second World War. Many of these remain and are clearly visible along the Chelmer valley, one being located on the west bank of the River Chelmer in meadows behind the Dourdan Pavilion and recreation ground.

Easton Lodge became RAF Great Dunmow in the war, and for a time was home to squadrons from the USAAF and the RAF. The site of the former airfield is now owned by Land Securities who in 2011 hoped to build a development including around 9,000 homes alongside significant supporting community, commercial and retail infrastructure, intending to call it Easton Park.[8]

A nuclear bunker was built on the edge of the village, on land compulsorily purchased in 1959. Used by the Royal Army Ordnance Corps until the 1980s, it was returned to its original owner in 1991 and sold on privately in 2005.[9]


The town museum, the Maltings Museum, is on Mill Lane and covers local history. Great Dunmow is also the home of Talliston House & Gardens, an ex-council house transformed by owner John Tarrow (née Trevillian) into 'Britain's most extraordinary home' (The Times).[10] The house and gardens have been open to the public since 2015 and include 13 fantasy locations, each set in a different time and place. The Old Town Hall, which is in the Market Place, dates from the 16th century.[11]


Great Dunmow is no longer served directly by the National Rail network. The nearest station is 8.3 miles (13.4 km) away in Braintree, where a generally hourly service along the Braintree branch line takes 63 minutes to London Liverpool Street. In addition, Bishop's Stortford station is 9.2 miles (14.8 km) away, providing services along the West Anglia Main Line to Liverpool Street in 45 minutes.

Until 1952, the town was served by Dunmow railway station on the Bishop's Stortford-Braintree branch line; the line was opened to passengers on 22 February 1869 and closed on 3 March 1952. The line continued to be used for freight trains and occasional excursions, closing in stages with the final section to Easton Lodge closing on 17 February 1972. It is now possible to walk or cycle in either direction along the former track bed to Braintree station or to the edge of Bishop's Stortford.

As the crow flies, the town is just under 5 miles (8 km) from Stansted Airport.

The M11 motorway passes nearby, to the west of the town. The A120, from the M11 to Braintree, by-passes the town; the former route has now been re-designated the B1256. The latter itself was a bypass, built on the route of the old railway line and station. Until the 1970s, the A120 went through Great Dunmow town centre.

Great Dunmow continues to be served by regular bus services. Arriva Sapphire route 133 and Essex Airlink (operated by First Essex) route X20 both operate roughly hourly through the town between Stansted Airport and Braintree, with the X20 continuing further east towards Marks Tey and Colchester.


Local news and television programmes are provided by BBC East and ITV Anglia. Television signals are received from the Sudbury TV transmitter. [12]

Local radio stations are BBC Essex on 103.5 FM, Heart Essex on 96.1 FM, Greatest Hits Radio East (formerly Dream 100 FM) on 100.2 FM, and Actual Radio an DAB station.

The town is served by the local newspaper, the Dunmow Broadcast, which publishes on Thursdays. [13]

Flitch Trials[edit]

The town is known for its four-yearly ritual of the "Flitch Trials", in which couples must convince a jury of six local bachelors and six local maidens that, for a year and a day, they have never wished themselves unwed. If successful, the couple are paraded along the High Street and receive a flitch of bacon.[14] The custom is ancient, and is mentioned in the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.

Twin town[edit]

Great Dunmow is twinned with Dourdan in France.

Notable people[edit]

  • Evelyn Anthony (1926–2018) – novelist and writer
  • Anne Line (1567–1601) – Catholic martyr executed during the reign of Elizabeth I for harbouring a priest in The Clock House, The Causeway, where she was a housekeeper
  • Lionel Lukin (1742–1834) – considered by some to have been the inventor of the unsinkable lifeboat, designs for which he tested on the Doctor's Pond
  • Sir George Beaumont, 7th Baronet (1753–1827) – art patron and amateur painter, who played a crucial part in the creation of London's National Gallery by making the first bequest of paintings
  • Julian Byng, 1st Viscount Byng of Vimy (1862–1935) – Army officer who served as Governor General of Canada and later the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police; Newton Hall was his first house
  • Toke Townley (1912–1984) – actor who appeared as a regular character in the soap opera Emmerdale Farm
  • Francis Arthur Jefferson (1921–1982), recipient of the Victoria Cross, was stationed in Dunmow after the Second World War and was married in the village
  • Glen Murphy – actor and producer, was living on a farm in the area in 2007
  • Tommy Walsh – celebrity builder, star of Ground Force, Challenge Tommy Walsh and Tommy Walsh's Eco House
  • Liam Howlett from The Prodigy – lives in Great Dunmow
  • Keith Flint (1969–2019) – member of The Prodigy, final home and place of death.[15]
  • Alex Lynn – racing driver, currently with Formula E
  • Jonathan Albon – long-distance runner

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Great Dunmow: population statistics, 2021 Census". Retrieved 11 December 2023.
  2. ^ "Great Dunmow Town Council". Great Dunmow Town Council.
  3. ^ "Town Design Statement Great Dunmow Town / Village Design Statement Design Guidance Protecting Town Village Character". Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  4. ^ "GREAT DUNMOW TOWN COUNCIL (ESSEX)". Robert Young. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  5. ^ Togodumnus (Kevan White). "Great Dunmow". Archived from the original on 17 June 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  6. ^ Great and Little Dunmow in the Domesday Book
  7. ^ "Great Dunmow". Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  8. ^ "Home". Archived from the original on 17 May 2011.
  9. ^ "Dunmow, Stebbing: Des res bunker sold for £10,000". Gazette. 3 March 2005. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  10. ^ Scott, Caroline (8 June 2014). "Britain's most extraordinary home". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  11. ^ Historic England. "Old Town Hall (1142444)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 3 September 2023.
  12. ^ "Full Freeview on the Sudbury (Suffolk, England) transmitter". UK Free TV. 1 May 2004. Retrieved 25 November 2023.
  13. ^ "Dunmow Broadcast". British Papers. 4 July 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2023.
  14. ^ Notes and Queries. Oxford University Press. 1869. p. 262.
  15. ^ Mark Savage (4 March 2019). "The Prodigy's Keith Flint dies aged 49". BBC News. Retrieved 4 March 2019.

External links[edit]

Media related to Great Dunmow at Wikimedia Commons