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Coordinates: 51°43′08″N 0°30′25″E / 51.719, 0.507
Great Baddow

Great Baddow is located in Essex
Great Baddow

 Great Baddow shown within Essex
Population 14,000 
OS grid reference TL731052
Parish Great Baddow
District Chelmsford
Shire county Essex
Region East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Chelmsford
Postcode district CM2
Dialling code 01245
Police Essex
Fire Essex
Ambulance East of England
EU Parliament East of England
List of places: UK • England • Essex

The former Chain Home radar transmitter tower, in the grounds of BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre, Great Baddow – a prominent local landmark.

Great Baddow is an urban village and civil parish in the Chelmsford borough of Essex, England. It is close to the county town, Chelmsford and, with a population of over 13,000,[1] is one of the largest villages in the country.

Great Baddow's name is believed to have been derived from the River Beadwan, now known as the River Chelmer, which marks the northern boundary of the village. Beadwan is thought to be a Celtic word of uncertain meaning,[2] possibly "birch stream" or a reference to the goddess Badbh.[1] The centre of Great Baddow is now a Conservation Area and contains over 30 listed buildings.


During the early part of the 20th century, Great Baddow grew through ribbon development towards Chelmsford and Galleywood. In 1936, Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company opened the Marconi Research Laboratory in Great Baddow (now BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre), bringing together their various radio, television and telephony research teams in a single location.[3] As the electronics industry developed the campus expanded during the 1940s and 1950s to include research into radar, general physics, high voltage, vacuum physics and semiconductors.[3] Great Baddow expanded considerably in the 1950s with the construction of Rothmans Estate, which provided housing for workers at Marconi's and English Electric Valve Company in Chelmsford.[4] The village has continued to expand over subsequent years.

The Vineyards, located in the centre of the old village, was once a fine Georgian house set in attractive wooded grounds[5] which later became a hotel. It was demolished in the 1960s[6] prior to the advent of conservation legislation,[5] to make way for the construction of the Vineyards shopping centre and the Marrable House office block, both constructed with a 'scale, form, layout and architecture' that Chelmsford Council now considers to 'jar with its historic surroundings'.[5] Despite this the shopping centre continues to thrive[5] and, since refurbishment in the 2000s, the flats above are highly regarded and sought after properties. It is expected that Marrable House, described at the time of its construction as 'one of the worst examples of town and country planning in the country'[7] and subsequently once voted as one of England's ugliest buildings,[6][8] will be demolished and replaced with a more sympathetic mixed use development.[5] A corner of the grounds of the former Vineyards mansion were retained and form a green area to the west of the Vineyards development.[5] A library was also opened on the western edge of the development in September 1981, replacing the former building in Bell Street.[9]

In 1967 a fire station was opened in Great Baddow to replace the former station which occupied a converted hut in Brewery Fields, Galleywood, once part of the Galleywood race course complex.

Great Baddow has five pubs – The White Horse, The Blue Lion, The Kings Head, The Beehive and The Star. The former Baddow Brewery, previously owned by the Baddow Brewery Co Ltd,[10] built in 1868 and extended in 1878 by George Scamell, is now a Grade II building and houses local businesses.[11][12] Great Baddow is also home to the Pontlands Park Country Hotel and the Baddow Antique Centre.


The village is home to Great Baddow High School, situated on Duffield Road. The school is a sports college and shows exceptional performances in this field. As well as the high school it is also home to Baddow Hall Infant and Junior Schools these schools are situated by the border of Great Baddow, Beehive Lane County Primary School, Larkrise Primary School, (formerly Rothmans Primary School), and Meadgate County Primary Schools.


Great Baddow lies to the south east to central Chelmsford, on higher ground that is thought to mark the edge of the main ice mass during the Anglian glaciation.[13] An outcrop of glacial sand and gravel 3 km long and 0.8 km wide is located beneath the village, which used to be extracted from several pits in the area, including Beehive Pit (now beneath Harbeard Tye), Baddow Hall Pit (now beneath Baden-Powell Close), to the south of the A1114 Princes Road (now in the grounds of Moulsham High School) and on what is now an area of open land off Waterson Vale.[13] Smaller pits were also located off the Galleywood Road (near what is now Hollywood Close)[13] and off Pitt Chase. The area is overlain with head, while the lower levels of the sand and gravel are mixed with London Clay.[13] A Sarsen stone from the Beehive Pit used to stand outside The Beehive pub.[13]


In Saxon times the Manor of Great Baddow was held by the Earls of Mercia, and in the 13th century by Robert de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale whose widow launched a legal challenge over its ownership on his death in March 1295.[14][15] After passing to the Crown, Henry VIII later granted it to Catherine of Aragon. During the reign of Edward VI it was held by the Paschals, before being sold to J.A. Houblon in 1736.

According to information in the local church of St Mary, the rebel leader Jack Straw led an ill-fated crowd (the "men of Essex") from the churchyard to London, in one of the risings in the 1381 Peasants' Revolt.

In 1731 Jasper Jeffrey founded Great Baddow Free School, and in 1830 two National Schools were built. By 1933 there were 7 daily schools, 2 daily and Sunday schools, and a further 2 boarding schools.

Great Baddow is recorded as having had a population of 1,445 in 1801, a figure that had risen to 2,022 in 1841. White's Directory of Essex 1848 reports Great Baddow as being 'one of the handsomest villages in Essex' having 'many scattered farms and neat houses', also noting that it had an annual pleasure fair on 14 May.

Following the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, responsibility for the poor of Great Baddow was removed from the parish and transferred to the Chelmsford Union on 10 August 1835.[16]

The Post Office Directory of Essex 1851, which lists the principal residents and trade persons of the parish of Great Baddow, includes 24 farmers, 8 beer retailers, 4 shoemakers, 3 blacksmith, 2 dressmakers, and notes that the vicar is residing in the Vineyards.

The Great Baddow Mast – a former Chain Home radar transmitter tower, originally sited at RAF Canewdon – was moved to the outskirts of Great Baddow around 1954 and is used by BAE Systems for equipment testing.[17]

Nearby villages include[]

External links[]

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  1. ^ a b Great Baddow Parish Council, published 2005, accessed 2011-10-13
  2. ^ "Great Baddow". Key to English Place-names. English Place-Name Society. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Birthplace of Radio, Invest Essex, accessed 2011-10-13
  4. ^ Stothard, Peter (Winter 2009). "Essex Clay". Granta. Retrieved on 13 July 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Planning Brief, The Vinyards Chelmsford Borough Council Town Planning Services, June 2004, accessed 2011-10-13
  6. ^ a b THE issue on everyone's lips at the moment in Great Baddow – the demolition of Marrable House – was exactly the same this time 50 years ago. This is Essex, published 2011-02-17, accessed 2011-10-13
  7. ^ Protestors triumph as Vineyards plan rejected Chelmsford Weekly News, published 2010-06-25, accessed 2011-10-13
  8. ^ Plans to demolish 'ugliest building' in doubt Essex Chronicle, published 2010-06-24, accessed 2011-10-13
  9. ^ Great Baddow Library Celebrates 20 Years published September 2011, accessed 2011-10-13
  10. ^ Baddow Brewery Co Ltd The National Archives, accessed 2011-10-13
  11. ^ A Survey of the Brewery Heritage of Essex, Brewery History: 111, pp. 15-34, Tony Crosby, published 2003, accessed 2011-10-13
  12. ^ Great Baddow Village Website
  13. ^ a b c d e Geology of the county around Chelmsford, British Geological Survey, CR Bristow, published HMSO 1985, ISBN 0-11-884335-4
  14. ^ [1] Scripta Diversa, By George Osborne Sayles, 1982
  15. ^ [2] Magna Carta Ancestry, By Douglas Richardson, Kimball G. Everingham, 2005
  16. ^ Seax - Catalogue: G/Ch Chelmsford Union Essex Record Soffice, accessed 2011-10-13
  17. ^ The Great Baddow Mast, Chelmsford Borough Council Planning and Building Control Services, published May 2009, accessed 2011-10-13
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