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 Belchamp Hall, left, a fine Queen Anne house, and above, a bridge and stables at Audley End House, near Saffron Walden
 Church Street, Saffron Walden, known for its decorative external plasterwork
layer of wallpaper and every detail revealing the construction of these two cottages, which will eventually be put back into one house, is pored over. A special twilight Halloween tour this autumn consists of a special Hallowtide talk and tea, plus a chance to explore. Oct 29, 4pm to 5pm, £14 per person.
Before you leave Saffron Walden why not visit nearby Audley End House, a largely early 17th century country house under the care of English Heritage. It was once a prodigy house, a palace in all but name, and renowned as one of the finest Jacobean properties in England.
Meanwhile Finchingfield Guildhall, dating back to 1470, was originally home to a guild of priests and provided a schoolroom for the boys of the village; scorch marks on the timbers show where wax tapers illuminated clerical studies.
More than five centuries later, the building is still a seat of learning, following a wholesale rescue and restoration since 2008. The guided tour takes in both the interior and exterior of the Guildhall and its contents, and after tea and homemade cakes there’s a chance to see the Norman church of St John the Baptist, within whose grounds the hall stands. Sept 8 and Oct 13, 2pm to 4pm, £13 per person.
n For the latest information on opening and tours and to book all tickets, visit historichouses.org
whose daughter Frances married Oliver Raymond, MP for Essex in the two Protectorate parliaments, hang each side of the door. Sir William commanded a ship against the Armada in 1588. Some of the items he captured from the Spanish, including an iron treasure chest with its huge original key, can still be seen on visits. The 90-minute tours end with tea, coffee. and cakes. Sept 8 & 10, 2pm to 4pm, £20 per person.
Over in Saffron Walden, Douglas Kent, the Technical and Research Director at the Society for the Protection of Ancient
Buildings, is putting his training and methods into practice with a meticulous, almost archeological, restoration of 25-27 Church Street. The house, medieval at its core, was once part of the famous Sun Inn and is renowned for its 17th century ‘pargeting’ (decorative external plasterwork). Overhanging jettied upper floors project into the street to complete the storybook charm.
Inside, the house is unmodernised and unfurnished, and visitors will be talked through the ongoing painstaking conservation and conversion work. Every
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