Village Shop to Hunts Park (Withersfield Road)

he Village PO & Shop is in an old building which was once a general grocers and drapers. It is now very much a centre for the two villages and a natural starting-point for these walks. Turning right out of the shop, you see set back from the road on the corner the former Reading Room, built for the use of villagers by W.F.Smith (son of the famous W.H.Smith). The small tower has a clock known as Lady Esther, in memory of Mr Smith’s wife, and in the foreground is the War Memorial to the local men lost in the two World Wars. There was once also a pub called the Red Cow here (one of three in this immediate area, together with a brewery behind the Rose & Crown).


Walk up the hill towards Withersfield, with an eye on the traffic since there is no pavement. On the right you first pass a row of houses (dated 1901) which were also built by W.F. Smith. Beyond these is Melton House, a wooden Scandinavian-style house which was bought by W.H. Smith at the Great Exhibition of 1851 for his agent’s use and which continued to be used for that purpose until the Ryders sold the estate in 1943. Next on the left is a cottage which was once a forge, and on the right are two more Victorian cottages (dated 1889).

At the top of the hill, where the road bends sharply to the left, is an impressive windmill, set on a vantage-point visible for miles around. This smock-mill came from Slough in 1807 and replaced an earlier post-mill. The large house at the end of the tree-lined avenue is the Old Vicarage (though a long way from the church at Great Thurlow). Between the windmill and the vicarage is a footpath which leads eventually to Temple End Farm and some way along this there is a moated area on your right, which may possibly date back to Anglo-Saxon times.


Continuing along the road towards Withersfield, you reach Hunts Park Farm on your right, which is home to the present agent to the Estate and beyond which is the boundary between Great Thurlow and Withersfield.