Henry VIII is said to have given Great Bardfield to Anne of Cleves as part of his divorce settlement and a number of buildings in the village are associated with Anne, including The Grade II listed Great Lodge and its associated Grade I listed barn, now named after her. The 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) grounds include the Grade I listed barn and a vineyard.
Great Bardfield is home to the Bardfield Cage, a 19th-century village lock-up, and the Bardfield Museum. a windmill which has been converted to a house.
Great Bardfield is important as the home of a rare plant only found where Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire meet. Originally it was thought that Oxlips were cowslip-primrose hybrids, but in 1842 Henry Doubleday and Charles Darwin conducted tests on plants collected from Great Bardfield and concluded that this was not so. For a while the plant was known as the Bardfield Oxlip. The common cowslip-primrose hybrid is known as the False Oxlip.