ELSENHAM offers a good view of the air traffic in and out of Stansted but is little affected by the noise, although the proposed expansion of the airport could bring new road links within the village boundaries. Its two most prominent features are a village pump in a domed octagonal well-house, and Elsenham Hall, a late Georgian red-brick mansion by the church. The village has seen a lot of new development in the last two decades and the range of property is large, with prices from £180,000 for a three-bedroom house to over £425,000 for a modern estate house and £750,000 for a six-bedroom Grade II listed home. Shops include a post office, newsagent and supermarket, and there is a pub, hairdresser and garage. Bishop’s Stortford is nearby for major shopping. It is a very horsey kind of a village, with plenty of activities: WI, gardening club, allotment association, cricket, football and keep-fit clubs. One of the Government’s much-vaunted eco towns is planned for land to the north east and opposition to it is strong.
Ugley, just to the north, does not deserve its name. Incidentally, the Women’s Institute here refers to itself as the Women’s Institute of Ugley, rather than the Ugley Women’s Institute. And Quendon, too, is very pretty. The big house, Quendon Park, is surrounded by a wooded deer-park and has a good William and Mary south front. A six-bedroom Georgian farmhouse with 3½ acres is likely to cost £1m.
To the north-east on the young River Chelmer is Thaxted, an impressive old town with a guildhall that broods over the open market place and an old windmill at the end of Fishmarket Street, which has been restored as a museum. The church, with 181ft spire and medieval roofs, is one of the finest in Essex. Thaxted’s problem is that it lies beneath the flight path to Stansted Airport, though people are so attached to the town that they don’t seem to mind. Many of them move house within the village, and some Londoners have second homes here. A two-bedroom semi will cost around £200,000; a four-bedroom detached modern house £260,000.