Great Baddow Parish Council in Chelmsford Essex represents an urban village with a population of about 15,000 and celebrated its Centenary Year back in 1994. There are thirteen members of the Parish Council and fourteen employed staff.
The name of Great Baddow is sometimes said to be derived from an Anglo-French combination meaning “bad water”. But the Essex Place-names Project suggests a different idea. Until around 900 years ago, the River Chelmer was called the Beadwan ea. That name is first documented in a will of about 989 AD, but was probably a Celtic (pre-Roman) name meaning either a birch stream or the war goddess Badbh. Even today, the northern boundary of Great Baddow is the River Chelmer or the Beadwan, as it would have been known long ago. This is almost certainly the origin of the present name Baddow.
At the heart of the old village there are over 30 listed buildings. The village has been the site of a Marconi research centre (now BAE) for many years, and major development started in the fifties with the building of the Rothmans Estate for workers at Marconi’s and English Electric Valve Company in Chelmsford. During the 1960’s multi-storey housing, shops, and offices were built on the Vineyards, a country house turned hotel in the centre of the village.
According to information in the village 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.
A former Chain Radar transmitter tower, originally sited at Canewdon can now be found on the outskirts of the village where it is used to test equipment by BAE. Click here to read a historical leaflet about the tower and mast.
One of the main aims of the Parish Council is to retain our village identity and foster the community spirit which exists in Great Baddow despite being so close to Chelmsford. It is amazing that considering the population of the village most people out and about still greet their fellow shoppers and storekeepers by name. If you ask where they live, they say Great Baddow rather than Chelmsford!