Jamie Oliver fans will be aware of Newport as the place where the loveable celebrity chef went to school and met the girl who would become his wife.
There was never a port here, but in Saxon times, port was often used as a name for a market, and one flourished here until the Middle Ages until nearby Saffron Walden took over the role. It once had a pond, leading to the village to be referred to as Newport Pond, but when the water dried up in the 16th century, so too did that part of its name.
After that, Newport’s inhabitants were mostly farmers, though some made a living in the production of leather, wool and malt. It’s still a small village, but as with many in this part of Essex, there are plenty of attractive and historic buildings to warrant a stop, with Monks Barn being one such property.
Located on the High Street, parts of the building date from the late 15th or early 16th century. You can see one of the original window sills features a worn carving; it’s hard to make out but the scene is of a crowned Virgin and child flanked by angels. Even without such details, the patterned brickwork and exposed timber beams make this a very attractive building.
Newport is also the site of the largest standing sarsen stone in the county. These sandstone blocks are found along roadsides. This particular one is nicknamed “The Leper Stone” and you can find out why in my earlier post: https://essexology.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/st-giles-leper-hospital/