THE iconic birthplace of the morris dancing fraternity is up for sale.

The Grade II* Market Cross building, next to the famous Guildhall in Thaxted, is on the market.

However, anyone after a piece of the district’s history will have to come up with a guide price of £995,000.

The building was once home to influential businessman Alec Hunter, who moved into the house in 1944 and had Alec Hunter School in Braintree named after him for his services to education.

Mr Hunter was the first squire of the Morris Ring in Thaxted, a link which has continued today with the owner, Simon Ritchie, being part of the town’s existing morris men.

He said: “This house has always buzzed with entertainment and parties. Every year the Christmas festivities move from the church to the Guildhall – right outside my front door – with carols and a visit from Father Christmas.

“It’s a fabulous place in the centre of the action.”

The landmark property has had links to the morris fraternity for more than 80 years, with Thaxted Morris being the oldest revival morris dancing group in England.

It was Thaxted Morris which hosted the meeting at which the Morris Ring was formed as a national organisation in 1934.

Associate director of Mullucks Wells, Nick Bush, said, “It’s rare for such a historic and well-positioned property to come onto the market.

“The house is in the very heart of the town with parking to the side and almost half an acre of garden to the rear – features which are not often available in such a historic location.”

The property started life as a hall house in the 14th century and had a facelift during the Georgian era, when bay windows and a doorcase were added.

The Market Cross was considered architecturally significant enough to feature in the influential log of properties in Pevsner’s architectural guide, The Buildings of England.

Call 01371 872117 for more information.