Known as the Catherdral of Essex, Thaxted is a substancial parich church built around 1340 to the design of a monastic abbey or priory. It has been described as the finest parish church in England. An ancient stained glass window in the South Transept dates from 1341 and depicts Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March who may have been one of the major benefactors in the church’s elaborate construction. Certainly Thaxted became a very wealthy town in the fourteenth century due to it’s production of cutlery, and this wealth was used in the creation of such a magnificent parish church.
Gustav Holst was living in Thaxted when he composed The Planets. He is known to have been inspired by the church, and adapted a medieval carol that was traced from a strange inscription on one of the church bells – “ I ring for the General Dance”.
Unusual to day the interior stone work is painted white, but this was actually the norm in medieval times. The glass in the windows of the celestory is clear, and so one can get a good feeling of how the interior of a Cistercian abbey would have felt.