Great Chesterford is an ancient village with many listed buildings situated on the banks of the River Cam, or Granta, on the boundary of Essex and Cambridgeshire.
The land around Great Chesterford has been inhabited for centuries, and there have been many archaeological finds e.g. Bronze Age beakers, Belgic pottery and jewellery, and many Roman artefacts which can be found in both Saffron Walden and Cambridge museums. In the 1st century AD, a Romano-British civil settlement was established near the river, occupying an important site en route between London, Cambridge and Newmarket. They erected many buildings, including a tax office, and a temple which was excavated to the east of the town near the Belgic cemetery. In the 4th century the Romans built a wall around the town – remains have been found and its exact location is known. In fact it passed underneath what is now the Crown House Hotel.
After the Romans left, it was presumed that there was continuity of occupation through the Saxon period, probably outside the Roman town. It was probably the location of a Saxon minster church, but the only actual evidence of Saxon occupation is found in the burial sites. Medieval development was in the centre of the village. The name Chesterford is first mentioned in a document in 1004, and again in 1086 in the Domesday Book. In 1459 the Rector, Thomas Hyll, endowed a charity for the benefit of needy parishioners. This still exists today.
In 1514 a school was licensed, and in 1540 Great Chesterford was described as being a purely agricultural community. By medieval times Great Chesterford was a town of some importance with a weekly market (confirmed later by a charter from Charles I in 1634), and a fair held on St John the Baptist’s Day.
By 1635 it grew in importance as a staging post for the Newmarket Races, often used by Charles I, who drew quite a crowd of onlookers. Complaints about gambling and noisy revelry at the Crown House (then a coaching inn) and its environs on Easter Sunday by travellers to the races eventually led to a ban on Sunday racing. Newmarket Races adhered to the ban until recently.
With thanks to Wikipedia