The Local Area
Kersey is one of England’s chocolate box villages with a stunning hilltop church, beautiful thatched cottages and an ancient ford running through the centre of the village complete with resident ducks
Long before Shakespeare’s time Kersey was famous for “Kersey cloth” which made the village prosperous. You’ll notice the large first floor windows as you take a stroll around the village, these were to give as much light to the weavers as possible. The ford or splash as the locals call it, is actually a tributary of the River Brett which flows through Hadleigh. It’s a lovely spot in the summer and great for children who can paddle or feed the ducks. See if you can see the fox’s tail hanging outside one of the cottages to indicate the vet in olden times.
Kersey has its own small pottery producing distinctive stoneware. This pottery uses a special blend of local materials to achieve a spectrum of glazes with unusual textures and flashes of iridescent colour with each individual piece having six or more glaze applications. They bring a stylish twist to the term souvenir! – www.kerseypottery.com
And we must not forget our local hostelry,The Bell is a 20 minute walk for good food, drink and pleasant company.
Hadleigh has all the amenities one could want. It has a large supermarket, several tea shops, takeaways, banks, pubs, flower shops, local delicacies, a swimming pool and Partridges in the centre of town is an old fashioned hardware store that sells almost everything and is well worth a browse.
Hadleigh was traditionally a market town and its long High Street contains examples of almost every style of Suffolk domestic buildings. Medieval, Tudor, Georgian – you name it they’ve got it! Visit on a Saturday morning or market day (Friday) to experience the unique atmosphere of an English market town.
The church was built in the 14th century and has a medieval wood and lead spire. Just above the clock the exterior bell, made in the late 11th century, doubles as a clock bell and sanctus bell. The Guildhall is to the left, on the other side of the church yard, and Hadleigh hall is just round the church to the right.
The River Brett meanders its way from the North edge of the town, parallel to the High Street, under picturesque Toppesfield Bridge, through a mill pool and then on to Higham where it joins the River Stour in Constable country. There is an excellent circular walk that takes in the high street and a nature reserve in just 30 minutes.
‘The Cooking Experience’
Are you a budding chef or do you want to be able to prepare different types of menus? If so within 10 minutes of ‘Wheelwrights’ there is the ideal opportunity.
‘The Cooking Experience’ is a small homely cookery school. They offer various courses and a look at their web site is well worth while. This would give an interesting opportunity to extend your skills whilst staying in this area.
Their web site is www.cookingexperience.co.uk
Visit www.hadleigh-suffolk.co.uk for more information on Hadleigh.
Lavenham is one of several wool towns in South Suffolk and is well known as one of the best preserved medieval towns in the country.
The town has a rich past and from the 14th to the 16th century flourished as one of the foremost wool and cloth making centres in England, famed in particular for its blue broadcloth. The buildings and church are testament to this wealth and the town´s appearance remains relatively untouched by time.
Perhaps the most famous of the wool towns, Lavenham once enjoyed such a high standing that in the reign of Henry VIII it was ranked as the fourteenth wealthiest town in England. For at least 500 years, the manufacture of various kinds of cloth and the preparation of wool and yarn were the main source of this wealth.
The appearance of the two has changed little over the years: half-timbered houses lean crazily over the narrow streets while the Guildhall, built in 1529, is perhaps the town´s most prominent feature. The building is owned by the National Trust and open to the public. It stands on one side of the market place, a triangular space surrounded almost entirely by timber-framed buildings.
Lavenham has been described as: ‘the finest medieval town in England´ and it has no fewer than 300 of its buildings listed as being of architectural or historic interest. One of these is the Church of St Peter and St Paul, which is among the finest in East Anglia – a magnificent church with a spire of 141 feet.
Much recommended is a walk along the disused railway line, followed by a wander through the gift and antiques shops and a cream tea, lunch or dinner in one of the many fabulous tea rooms, pubs and restaurants.
Visit www.lavenham.co.uk for more information on Lavenham.
Set in the heart of the Stour Valley, an area of outstanding natural beauty, the market town of Sudbury is an ancient market town dating back to Saxon time.
For centuries the weaving and silk industry has prospered here and many great houses and churches have been built, giving the town a major historical legacy. Sudbury has been used for television locations, most significantly for BBC’s Lovejoy. It is surrounded by the attractive countryside so often painted by Constable and Gainsborough and by quintessentially English villages. It is an ideal base for a walking holiday. Gainsborough House
The painter Thomas Gainsborough was born here, and a fine collection of his paintings can be seen in his house, which also has a contemporary art gallery and a print workshop offering summer courses.
The Quay theatre puts on a lively programme of events and nearby, visitors can enjoy a lazy boat trip on the River Stour followed by a cream tea at the restored 18th century granary.
Visitors will need plenty of time to explore this ancient market town; there is still a traditional market on Thursdays and Saturdays, a farmers´ market on the last Friday of each month plus a lovely range of shops to explore. Tea shops, restaurants and pubs are plentiful and for something a bit different, there are boat trips on the River Stour and cream teas at The Granary on summer Sundays.
Next to The Granary is The Quay – an intimate, atmospheric theatre in a building dating from 1792 which used to be the town´s grain warehouse. The Quay has a lively programme of events and has also recently started showing films. For the more energetic visitors, The Riverside Walk and water meadows offer an opportunity for a relaxing change of scenery.
‘Antiques Capital of Suffolk’.
It’s wide, tree-lined High Street is full of a wonderful selection of antiques shops that are something special, catering not only for the local population, but also forming an oasis of quality for the district and beyond. They include a baker, two bookshops, two butchers, fashion shops, a department store, a picture framer, a pottery and an undertaker, besides a famous array of antique centers that featured in the television series “Lovejoy”.
Melford Hall, owned by the National Trust, is a turreted brick Tudor mansion, little changed since 1578, with an original panelled banqueting hall. It also includes an 18th century drawing room and Regency library, garden and park walk.
Kentwell Hall is a Tudor property with a magnificent moat, dating back to the 15th century. You can visit the hall, bakery, dairy, walled garden, brick-paved mosaic and rare breeds farm.
Visit www.longmelford.co.uk for more information on Long Melford.
Visitors with an interest in archaeology, history and the arts will discover that Woodbridge has much to offer. On the opposite bank of the River Deben is the Anglo-Saxon site at Sutton Hoo, “One of Britain’s most important and atmospheric archaeological sites”. This is where the burial of Kings was discovered in a large upturned boat and marks the grave of Redwald, the Wuffinga king who ruled Anglia and was buried in his ship in 615 A.D
A visit to the site, now managed by the National Trust, reminds many people of the legend of Beowulf. Continuing the literary theme, Woodbridge is perhaps best known as the Home of Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883), translator of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Fitzgerald was a firm friend of Alfred Lord Tennyson, the Victorian Poet Laureate, who was a frequent visitor to the Bull Hotel. Today the internationally renowned Aldeburgh Festival, founded by Benjamin Brittenn, caters for those with an interest in the arts.
The near perfect acoustic of the Maltings concert hall in the village of Snape, just five miles from Woodbridge, provides a unique setting for both the musical component of the Aldeburgh Festival and also for musical performances throughout the year.
Visit www.visitwoodbridge.co.uk for more information on Woodbridge.
“Garden Resort Of the East Coast”, you will find four miles of beach, a local museum, historic fort, nature reserve & Leisure Centre on the seafront. Edwardian resort, retaining much of its original charm, with beautiful south facing gardens, paved promenade, leisure centre, pier and theatre. Its popularity began with the arrival of the railway in 1887, and a visit in 1891 by the Empress of Germany. The docks, Britain´s leading cargo and container port, were developed on marshland in 1886.
Visit www.landguard.com for information on Felixstowe Fort
If you fancy the hustle and bustle of a big town then visit Ipswich. It has all the high street stores you could wish for, a swimming pool, theatre, cinema, complex, great nightlife and and much much more.
Ipswich is England´s oldest continuously settled Anglo´Saxon town and has medieval streets and architectural gems to charm everyone. Twelve medieval churches stand testimony to the importance of the town as it developed in the Middle Ages. Then there´s the wide green open spaces – Christchurch Park with its Tudor mansion in the town centre, Holywells and Chantry parks and the verdant beauty of the Orwell Country Park with its stunning views of the Orwell estuary.
Visit www.ipswichlife.com for more information on Ipswich.
BURY ST EDMUNDS
The town grew up around the powerful Abbey of St Edmund in early medieval times. For five centuries it was visited by pilgrims from all over the world, coming to worship at the shrine of St Edmunds – the martyred King of East Anglia. Taking a stroll around the centre of Bury is an interesting experience.
Fine facades reveal a wide range of unusual, independent shops offering traditional service and endless inspiration. The twice weekly provisions market is a social event as well as a shopper´s delight, and the dozens of cafes, restaurants and pubs offer the visitor endless choice of refreshments.
In the summer the town becomes a riot of colour with flowers cascading from window boxes and hanging baskets. Small wonder that the town has won so many awards for floral excellence. Bury St Edmunds boasts many attractions including Museums, Galleries, a Catherdal, and Britain´s smallest pub ´The Nutshell´.
Visit Moyes Hall our local history museum, housed in one of England´s few surviving Norman houses. Inside is a fine selction of unsavoury items such as man-traps and stone coffins. By contrast Manor House museum offers a peaceful interlude in a fine Georgian Mansion. Collections of costumes, art, and horology are displayed in these wonderful surroundings.
The third museum is Greene Kings Brewery Museum. The museum´s storyborads, illustrations and artefacts provide great insight into the history and art of brewing the the town.
St Edmundsbury Cathedral built by Abbot Anselm in the 12th century and The Art Gallery are worth a visit. The Gallery was designed by Robert Adam and is popular with lovers of art and architecture alike. The gallery runs a programme of nationally important exhibitions throughout the year. The Theatre Royal is one of the oldest working theatres in the country and one of the few surviving Georgian Playhouses. A thriving programme throughout the year, including many Festival events in May.
Visit www.bury-st-edmunds-go-local.co.uk for more information on Bury St Edmunds.
Aldeburgh, on the Suffolk Heritage coast, has a particular charm that has attracted visitors from all over the world. Some have stayed, adding their own stories to the long history of the town. The composer Benjamin Britten settled here, his opera Peter Grimes was inspired by local poet George Crabbe and the town itself. The annual Aldeburgh Festival at nearby Snape Maltings was developed by Britten, the site being transformed from disused malthouses into a concert venue of international acclaim that now hosts a year-round programme of musical events.
Fishing and boat building are the foundations of the town and both trades still thrive. The sailing boats dotted along the river at one end of the town, the fishing huts, sheds and working boats scattered about the beach at the other all carry on as they have throughout the years and provide endless subject matter for painter and photographer alike.
Take a walk along the unspoilt sea front, little changed since Victorian times, its uneven row of individual houses each seeming to have a character of their own. The wide atmospheric East Anglian sky, the shelved shingle beach, the rugged North sea, the wildness of the marshes and the stillness of the wide, winding river Alde, separated from the sea by a single path and some fortuitously placed shingle.