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2021 marks the centenary of the (THAXTED) THE BATTLE OF THE FLAGS.

Thaxted is a small town in the middle of Essex that lies between Saffron Walden and Great Dunmow. It is quintessentially English. It’s associated with tea rooms, Morris Men, music festivals, Holst the composer and in general the peaceful rural Essex countryside.

The Thaxted town sign of crossed swords is for the Guild of Cutlers and not a battle emblem. Yet just over 90 years ago Thaxted was a hotbed of social unrest. It was all due to this man Conrad Le Dispenser Noel, the Vicar of Thaxted church. Noel began a chain of events that transformed the town into a political maelstrom and led to Thaxted being besieged by mobs of up to 3,000, in the main made up of undergraduates from nearby Cambridge University. In parliament, the Home Secretary took questions from members – ‘What steps are being taken in regard to the preaching of sedition in Thaxted Church?

Conrad Le Dispenser Noel

It all began on 21st April 1921 when Thaxted church was first targeted. Soon the regular demonstrations turned ugly and the police were overwhelmed.  The protests continued off and on for nearly five months simply because Conrad Noel (also known as the Red Vicar) refused to remove flags hung in the church that offended the demonstrators.

Thaxted Church

For more on this fascinating saga, that include the former mistress of King Edward VII, a cast of sacked London Police Officers and Irish and Russian revolutionaries, a copy of BATTLEFIELD ESSEX is needed.