From royal forests, recreated medieval castles and villages, and world famous sculpture parks, there’s lots to see and do in and around Stansted.
Activities in Stansted
Stansted Mountfitchet Castle
Travel back in time at Stansted Mountfitchet Castle. The recreated 10-acre site features a Norman castle and settlement, including a lost medieval village in the centre of Stansted. Built on the site of an existing Motte and Bailey castle, you can explore how village life was 900 years ago, including roaming wildlife, the village church and a range of different siege weapons (war was never far away in those days).
The site is closed during the winter, so check ahead for the opening times. There’s also a café and gift shop on site, and the fabulous House on the Hill Toy Museum, which we discover in more detail below.
Where Stansted Castle is a recreated step back in history, the town of Saffron Walden has changed little since the medieval ages. It has dozens of centuries-old buildings to discover, including Audley End House and Gardens (which we write about in more detail below), Bridge End Garden with its maze and Dutch Garden, and the stunning St. Mary’s Church.
The historic town has held a market since 1411, with market days now running every Tuesday and Saturday. Here you can pick up a range of local produce, with plenty of fine cafés, bars and restaurants near the town square too. Just 12-miles north of our London Stansted Airport hotel, Saffron Walden is well worth the 25-minute drive for its rural charm, quaint streets, shops and cafés alone.
Once a royal hunting ground, Hatfield Forest is now a vast landscape, featuring sprawling woods that are home to over 3,5000 animal species and trees that are well over 1,000 years old. There are plenty of biking, walking and nature trails through the 400-hectare forest, as well as a stable and boat hire from May to September on the lake. There’s also a shop, café and plenty of parking, while the forest is just a five-minute drive from our London Stansted hotel.
The Henry Moore Foundation
A renowned sculptor and artist, Henry Moore is one of Britain’s best known artists, with his works spread over 38 different countries. You can celebrate some of his most famous ‘semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures’ at The Henry Moore Foundation: his former house which has been turned into a visitor attraction.
The studios and gardens are open every summer showcasing over 15,000 objects including sculptures, maquettes, drawings, prints, tapestries and textiles.
Cammas Hall Farm
With a play area, café, farm shop, maze, nature trail and acres of fruit ripe for eating, Cammas Hall Farm is not just any farm. A 10-minute drive south from Stansted, you can pick your own strawberries, raspberries, sweet corn, pumpkins and onions, while they also grow cherries and sunflowers too.
Check ahead to find out what’s in season when you visit, while the tea barn, farm shop and play area are open whatever the season.
Audley End House & Gardens
Grand, opulent, stunning: these are just a few of the words you could use to describe Audley End House & Gardens, a gargantuan Jacobean mansion on the western edge of Saffron Walden. Once the largest house in England, you’re free to explore the great hall, dressing rooms, libraries, nursery and service wing of the house, while there’s also a Victorian stable and stunning gardens to discover as well.
There are two onsite cafés serving a range of hot and cold options – the afternoon tea is essential if you have the time – and there’s also an excellent children’s playground.
The House on the Hill Toy Museum
A must for all those with rose-tinted glasses that like a traipse along memory lane, The House on the Hill Toy Museum is an ACME-packed museum celebrating over 70,000 toys from the 19th century onwards. The museum, which opened in 1991, features exhibitions spanning Dr Who, Star Wars and James Bond, as well as more serious subject matters like WWI and WWII.
The hill in question is actually the Stansted Mountfitchet Castle, meaning one ticket gets you entry to the castle, this museum and the Dinosaur Encounters show.