A market town on the western border of Essex near Cambridge; pop. approx. 15,000. It has a couple of nice pubs, several ordinary pubs, a golf club, plenty of shops, old terrace houses, semi-detached Victorian houses, modern flats, and new construction. The town is adjacent to Audley End, a Victorian estate, open for tourism and occasionally a concert venue. There is no proper cinema but on weekends the high school auditorium becomes "Saffron Screen" with a digital projector, stadium seating, and refreshments.
Presumably the market has been held there for 900 years. These days it operates in the town square on Saturdays and Tuesdays. One particular green grocer might be heard there, calling out in a bright loud voice the prices of fruits and veggies, and for variety: "You lucky, lucky people. Your market is open! Rain? Come in under the sheet, love!"
Upstairs through the humble public library on the market square visitors can access a rare old Victorian library now home to the Victorian Studies Centre: a room full of antique books and bookshelves, very sturdy tables and chairs, and a selection of academic periodicals on the subject of Victorian history and literature.
There is a small museum fully stocked with antiquities from pre-Roman, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, Tudor and Victorian ages. The brick musem building is set on a hill beside the ruin of a Norman flint stone castle and a very old parish church. Like these features, the town exhibits several more examples of antique construction like the half-timber Guildhall, where plays are staged and a community orchestra performs, and Lankaster Antiques with its outer walls decorated with pargeting.
Saffron Walden is the home town of the (fictional) composer in the second part of the novel Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. He refers to it and Audley End and his family who live there.