Manuden is a small village in Essex on the Hertfordshire boundary
it's principal street, imaginatively called The Street, is
lined with Grade II listed medieval houses, former shops and
inns. There is also a wealth of vernacular medieval architecture
(a malt loft which juts out over the street at an alarming
angle, a thatched privy and an icehouse being a few examples).
The splendid flint-coated church of St
Mary the Virgin, Manuden dates back to 1143 but, although
it retains some Norman features, it was largely rebuilt between
1863-76. Several fine country houses add to the charm of the
village, which is surrounded by gently rising fields. Once
a farming community with a mill and two maltings, the village
still boasts two working farms dedicated to a mixture of arable,
dairy and sheep farming. Leatherwork was made in the village
from 1430 to 1900's, as evidenced by the tanner shown at work
on the village sign.
Manuden is in a designated conservation area - unspoilt even
by streetlights. The local council fiercely protects trees
-particularly yews. Yew was the favoured wood of medieval archers
and fletchers - hence the name of the village pub, "The Yew
Tree Inn". All alterations to houses are subject to consent
by the Conservation Officer for the area as well as standard
planning permission. It is amazing that film directors, seeking
authentic locations for period dramas have not besieged Manuden.
First recorded as a Saxon settlement in the Domesday Book
of 1086, Manuden in the 21st Century has a strong sense of
community spirit and a fierce pride in its history. So much
so that, in the summer of 2000, all roads to Manuden were sealed
off while villagers (in costume) enacted a pageant of scenes
from the history of the village, researched by the formidable
History Society. Scenes included the Domesday inspection, a
murder and hanging, a visit by Queen Elizabeth I, a World War
II evacuation and a Silver Jubilee Party.