THE MALDON DISTRICT

You will get a taste of the Maldon District in a day but a whole smorgasbord if you stay for a weekend or longer. Tailor your stay to suit your interests whether history, birds, boats, walking or food, enjoy a kaleidoscope of experiences and sample a combination of all that is on offer.

Breath taking scenery makes an ideal backdrop for walkers, artists and wildlife enthusiasts. Architectural gems include listed buildings and medieval churches plus the remote and ancient St Peter’s on the Wall. The preserved WW1 aerodrome and the Combined Military Services Museum are also high on the list of visitor attractions. Historic waterfronts and traditional shops are great for pottering around before relaxing in an ‘olde worlde’ tea room or on a traditional Thames Sailing Barge.

There is a range of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets so book your stay to discover all that the Maldon District has to offer.

A BRIEF HISTORY MALDON

The Washington Window in All Saints' Church

The fascinating timeline of Romans, Saxons and Vikings have all left their mark in the Maldon district. There is mention of the town of Maeldune as early as 913AD in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, the only other town in Essex, at this time, being Colchester. The Romans, however, were here as early as 43AD obtaining fish and oysters from the Blackwater and starting the salt processing that Maldon is famous for today. Roman soldiers were sometimes paid in salt which is where the word ‘salary’ comes from.

In the last decades of the 10th century, Danish raiders were ravaging the East Anglia's coastline leaving a bloody trail of death and destruction in their wake. Byrhtnoth, Earldorman of Essex, with an army of loyal followers faced them near Northey Island in August 991. After a fierce three-day battle, Byrhtnoth lay dead and the Anglo-Saxons were defeated, yet the Danes had suffered huge losses and were forced to retreat.

This important episode in England's history is recorded in an epic poem, the earliest work of English literature. The battle site is recorded by English Heritage as the oldest battlefield in England. An impressive bronze statue of Byrhtnoth, created by local and internationally known sculptor John Doubleday, now guards the waterfront in Maldon's Promenade Park. Visit the Maeldune Heritage Centre to see a 42-foot embroidery created to mark the 1000th anniversary of the battle.

A jump in history also connects us to the West and the USA as George Washington’s great, great grandfather, Lawrence Washington, lived locally and is buried in All Saint’s Church, Maldon. This church is also unique as the only one in England with a triangular tower. Visit the Maldon District to discover it’s wealth of history and the legacy that our early ancestors gave us.

 

ROYAL CHARTER

On 7 October 1155, King Henry II granted Maldon a Borough Charter confirming its status. One of the conditions was the provision of a ship for the King's defence and, to enable this to be done, a water bailiff was appointed to gather taxes from the river. This post is still in existence, making the Maldon water (or river) bailiff one of the longest surviving posts in the country today.

MAJOR PORT

Up to the 18th century, the River Blackwater continued to grow in importance and, during this period, it became the main supply route for imports along the East Coast, as well as a major source of food for the town. During the winter of 1776 the Blackwater froze from Maldon to Osea Island, a distance of 4 miles. The ice trapped fishing and cargo carrying vessels and blocked imports of coal, oil and wood. At the height of the winter two thirds of the town was without work and pay and the freeze caused great hardship to almost every resident.
Thames Sailing Barges

OUR PEOPLE

Fat Man of Maldon

Maldon and the surrounding area is the setting for a series of books by S.L.Bensusan, the stories recall a lost way of life among the towns and villages of the district and along the local coastline. Below are just a few of the notable people from this unique part of the country.

THE FAT MAN OF MALDON

When Edward Bright died in 1750 weighing 44 stone, his body, in a specially constructed coffin, had to be winched out of the upper storey of his house. After his death, and following a wager in a pub, seven men (from the Dengie Hundred) fitted into his waistcoat, thus winning the bet that it would fit seven 'hundred' men!

A commemorative bronze sculpture can be found on the wall of Continental Coffee in the Kings Head Centre.

GEORGE WASHINGTON'S GREAT GREAT GRANDFATHER

Donated by the people of Massachusetts, the stained glass window in All Saints' Church, known as the Washington Window, commemorates Lawrence Washington, vicar of Purleigh Church in 1632, and the the great great grandfather of George Washington, the first president of the United States of America.

The Window was designed by Mr. A. K. Nicholson, of Gower Street, London. His design was intended to show the strong tie of brotherhood between the Anglo Saxon and the old and young Maldon on either side of the Atlantic.

REVEREND JOSEPH BILLIO

In the late 17th century the Reverend Joseph Billio was a successful preacher in Maldon. So popular was he, that the 400 seats in the meeting house where he held his regular sermons were not enough to contain all his followers, so the windows were thrown open to allow those gathered outside to hear. Joseph Billio was widely acclaimed for his inspirational energy and fervour, his long sermons were delivered with such animation and gusto the phrase 'to go like Billio' was coined. A blue plaque commemorating this man can be found at the United Reformed Church on Market Hill.

THOMAS PLUME

'20 shillings a year for the library, but no picture please!'

In 1704 Thomas Plume founded the Plume library and bequeathed his extensive set of ancient books to Maldon on one condition...... he was most specific in forbidding his likeness to be hung in the library. In gratitude for the bequest, the townspeople still wished to acknowledge the generosity (20 shillings per annum for new books) of their benefactor, so his portrait now hangs in the Moot Hall! www.thomasplumeslibrary.co.uk

Plume library, Maldon