The birthplace of Dick Turpin is actually this lovely chocolate box of a house in Hempstead, Essex. However, this Grade I Listed, 15th century cottage which also bears his name is in Thaxted, Essex. It sits at the bottom of Stoney Lane, an ancient and steep cobbled street that rises up to the churchyard.
If you’re unfamiliar with Dick Turpin, he was a horse thief, highwayman and member of the infamous “Essex Gang” during the 1700s. While Turpin was a real person and many facts about his life, misdeeds and eventual death in York are known, his story has become somewhat of a legend.
Many romanticized and not necessarily true stories about Turpin are still being told today. He is featured in numerous songs, plays and historical fiction novels. His name also adorns many pubs and a few homes, like this one!
It’s not known why the house was named after Turpin, although some speculation online suggests he may have purchased it with the proceeds of his crimes. Certainly, some old tales state he lived in Thaxted; however, he was known to roam the country and there’s no evidence to confirm he lived in this particular home.
Regardless of the veracity of the story, the house (and indeed the whole village) are beautiful and picturesque. When we first visited Thaxted en route to visiting my partner’s sister in Cambridgeshire, I wandered the streets for ages and could hardly contain myself. It’s truly one of the prettiest and most historic English villages I’ve ever visited.
Turning my thoughts once more to Dick Turpin’s Cottage, I long to know more about its history. I’m also endlessly curious about what it looks like inside. If you know its history, please get in touch with me!