Continue our series of chocolate box villages which are just outside London and you can visit on a day trip.
Castle Hedingham takes its name from its Norman castle, which dominates the landscape, but the village is not just the castle. It was then one of the most massive fortresses in the 1000 / 1100 and even now it is noticeable.
In 1140, Aubrey de Vere II built the tower on the site of an earlier wooden fortress. Today it stands at over 33 m, its walls are full of chambers and passages on each floor. One of the most beautiful Norman domestic interiors still existing, the banquet hall is crossed by a vast Norman arch.
The imposing stone keep is one of the most high in Europe, with four floors and four meters thick walls. You can still visit the banquet hall and where the minstrels gathered.
The castle belonged to the counts of Oxford, who were then the powerful Norman de Veres family, one of whom was among the barons who forced King John to accept the Magna Carta. Among the many royals entertained at the castle were Henry VII and Elizabeth I, was therefore an important castle for several centuries.
The village itself is a labyrinth, incredible of alleys and streets that radiate from Falcon Square. There are very attractive buildings which include both Georgian and del 1400 houses with the typical medieval look. It’s nice to wander around the village and discover hidden alleys and look at the different houses and their details.
Don’t miss the St Nicholas church, built by the family de Vere. It was lucky enough to avoid the restoration of many churches which took place in 1800, when many Norman churches were transformed into romantic or neo-Gothic churches. This church is still all Norman, pay attention to the choir seats to see some medieval oddities.
The village is also located on the Colne Valley Railway which offers short journeys on steam trains which are part of the blast from the past you will take when visiting Castle Hedingham
How to get to Castle Hedingham?
The village is located close to London, but it is a bit complicated to get there by public transport but not impossible. You have to take the train to Baintree from Stratford and then take bus number 89 to Great Yeldham and get off at The Bell at Castle Hedingham.