There's blingy and unlovely Essex — and then there is pretty, quaint and discreet rural Essex. Great Baddow falls into the latter category.
The heritage village, near Chelmsford, dates from Saxon times, and it’s from here that Jack Straw led a band of men to London as part of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.
Later, Henry VIII granted the village to his first queen, Catherine of Aragon, and in the 20th century Marconi’s pioneering Wireless Telegraph Company opened a laboratory at Great Baddow that developed into a campus.
It’s one of the largest villages in the country, with more than 30 important listed buildings. There was at least one blot on the landscape, however.
When built in 1968, Marrable House, an office block, was described as “one of the worst examples of town planning in the country” and later it became a contender for England’s ugliest building. Locals welcomed a proposal to bulldoze it.
In stepped developer Weston Homes, replacing the building with a new 53-apartment scheme called Heron Gate, above. Prices start at £193,000 — within reach of many commuting London first-time buyers.
Always ready to give added value, Weston Homes has opted for an architectural mix of Essex “vernacular” and modern, using red brick, white render, wooden cladding, slate roofs and glass balconies. The generous-size homes have a higher-than-expected spec and are set in lush, landscaped grounds. They also come with underground parking. Call 01279 8733000.