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Historians unveil 21st century version of Sawbridgeworth's Millennium Trail revealing town's hidden gems



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A group of local history fans took a step back in time - and a leap into the 21st century - as they sampled the town's updated Millennium Trail.

Led by Sawbridgeworth Local History Society chairman David Royle the group walked the route of the trail and tried out the new QR codes scattered around the town and produced by society members Hazel and Dave Mead.

Hazel said the trail had been launched to celebrate the Millennium and unveil some of the town's best kept secrets, with boards placed at certain places of interest carrying information provided by legendary local historian Wally Wright.

The launch of Sawbridgeworth's Millennium Trail with QR codes (56397425)
The launch of Sawbridgeworth's Millennium Trail with QR codes (56397425)

Unfortunately over the years the boards were vandalised, removed for repair, placed in a shed and then were completely destroyed in a fire. But happily Hazel reported the info was still available in digital form and when Sawbridgeworth Local History Society was formed members decided that it should be available for the community in the up to date form of QR codes.

Various permissions were sought, decisions made on where to site the QR codes, before the project received funding from a Hertfordshire County Council Locality Budget grant and it was all systems go.

The launch of Sawbridgeworth's Millennium Trail with QR codes (56397420)
The launch of Sawbridgeworth's Millennium Trail with QR codes (56397420)

The Indie met the group in Bell Street car park and then we took a short walk to Church House in Church Street - a white clapboard building provided for the benefit of parishioners of Sawbridgeworth under a trust deed of 1652 - for stop 1.

Some of the QR "virgins" in the group struggled at first, but with a little help after scanning the code historical facts about Great St Mary's Church and surrounding area became available via the internet.

After a stroll through the churchyard where there are graves of notable parishioners, the group was led to Sheering Mill Lane and on to Sheering Mill Lock for the next code revealing historical facts, placed on the garden fence of Lock House.

The launch of Sawbridgeworth's Millennium Trail with QR codes (56397433)
The launch of Sawbridgeworth's Millennium Trail with QR codes (56397433)

Then a picturesque walk along the River Stort eventually led to stop 3 in Station Road for some info on the malthouses and then after a short trek back along Station Road came stop 4 near Burton's Mill.

A slow climb followed up the twitchell off Station Road past Sayes Gardens to The Forebury and on to the Memorial Hall for the next QR code located above the entrance. As you pass the library, erected in 1937 as offices for Sawbridgeworth Urban District Council, don't miss the "trompe l'oeil" of a cat on the windowsill of The Queen's Head pub in Knight Street.

A stroll up Knight Street leads to stop 6 with the QR code located on the wall to the left of Market Square revealing the history of the town's market.

The launch of Sawbridgeworth's Millennium Trail with QR codes (56397429)
The launch of Sawbridgeworth's Millennium Trail with QR codes (56397429)

The sunniest spot for a stop was on the edge of Fair Green for the seventh QR code which tells of the town's most auspicious visitor - Anne Boleyn - believed to have a used a path from Pishiobury to the church near here.

The twitchell from Fair Green takes you all the way to London Road for stop 8 with a fascinating fact revealed about the maidenhair or ginkgo tree, believed to be species that has survived from the Jurassic period 200 million years ago.

Back along Bell Street we reached the end of the walk where we were joined by town mayor Cllr Greg Rattey as he officially unveiled the final QR code on the wall of the public toilets in the car park.

A QR code attached to the footpath post on the corner of Fair Green (56439482)
A QR code attached to the footpath post on the corner of Fair Green (56439482)

After walking the trail a reception was held at The Hailey Centre, Sayesbury Manor, with much-needed refreshments provided by Kerry Reynolds and her team. Cllr Rattey and Cllr Royle cut a cake, provided by Dorrington's in celebration of the launch - with a novel twist of the cake decoration being the QR code of the first stop on the trail.

The QR codes are at the following locations, with maps on each stop directing people to the next one:

  • Stop 1: The post at the end of Church House, Great St Mary's Church, Church Street
  • Stop 2: Fence of Sheering Mill Lock Cottage near River Stort on opposite side of the road to the lock.
  • Stop3: Directional finger post opposite the end of the Forebury on the riverside.
  • Stop 4: Footpath post 42 at the junction of Leat Close
  • Stop 5: Sawbridgeworth Memorial Hall above entrance door
  • Stop 6: The Square opposite Rudhair
  • Stop 7: Footpath post 32 on Fair Green
  • Stop 8: Footpath post 32 at London Road end
  • Stop 9: Bell Street car park on toilet wall


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