Towns and Villages in the South and Heart of Suffolk
Situated in the beautiful, rolling Suffolk countryside you will find the old wool town of Clare. The town has a fascinating history, many interesting and compelling places to visit, and offers a wide range of shops, antiques outlets and high quality local cafes and pubs.
Lying in the Brett Valley, Chelsworth is the quintessential English village with thatched cottages, pretty church and cosy village pub and is surrounded by lovely countryside. The village is well known for having homes with beautiful gardens which are open to the public for one Sunday a year. Chelsworth lies on the the Cycle South Suffolk route (leaflet available from Sudbury Tourist Information Centre)
Debenham lies in the heart of the Suffolk countryside near to the source of the River Deben, a large, peaceful village which belies its past as a thriving wool centre. Evidence of this trade is all around in the timber framed merchants houses dating from 14th century. You will find delightful shops, cafes, pubs and a leisure centre in this pretty, historic village. A village trail can be found locally.
East Bergholt is the birthplace of John Constable and you can still see (from the outside) his studio and the place where his house once stood. The church is open to the public for teas and it is worth taking a look at the church bells, which are considered to be unique in this country. They are housed in a bell cage, separate from the church and are rung by hand. Shops/post office/pubs/tearoom. Free parking. East Bergholt lies on the the Cycle South Suffolk route (leaflet available from Sudbury Tourist Information Centre)
In Eye you will find timber framed buildings, pretty thatched cottages, the stunning Church of St Peter and St Paul and splendid views from the castle ruin. In the Church,the 15th century wooden rood screen with its intricate carving and painted saints, kings and bishops is alone worth a visit. A town trail can be found locally as well as the "Cycling around Eye" booklet. Eye has a good choice of traditional shops, a pub, cafes and restaurants.
Flatford lies in the heart of the Dedham Vale and is the wonderful place where John Constable lived and did some of his best-oved paintings. It is a small site in the heart of what is known as "Constable Country" and has Bridge Cottage, owned by the National Trust, a tearoom and gift shop; the Flatford Field Studies Centre where you can stay and learn to paint, take nature study courses, photgraphy etc and the Flatford Visitor Information Centre. There is also the beautifully situated Granary Bed and Breakfast on the edge of the river. Flatford does get very busy at certain times of the year and we would recommend you travel by bike, foot or public transport, for a really enjoyable visit. Flatford is easily accessible by trains from London into Manningtree Station which is an enjoyable 20-30 minute walk away. Carparking is charged for in Flatford, or you can park for free in East Bergholt and walk a mile or so to Flatford. Close by is Dedham (a charming walk along the river and across the fileds - Constable did this very walk everyday to go to school!) which is another delightful village with Castle House, home of Sir Alfred Munnings open to the public and a lovely choice of small shops, restaurants and the stupendous Dedham Parish Church. Flatford lies on the the Cycle South Suffolk route (leaflet available from Sudbury Tourist Information Centre)
A charming market town, Hadleigh has a lot to offer: a lovely choice of individual shops, including the famous Partridges, a harware shop that has an endlessly extensive range of goods for the home and garden; restaurants, pubs and cafes; a pretty riverside walk and railway walk as well as the really beautiful church/guildhall/deanery tower complex. Leave yourself plenty of time to look around, or better still, make Hadleigh your base for a short break stay in the area. Hadleigh lies on the the Cycle South Suffolk route (leaflet available from Sudbury Tourist Information Centre) as well as the Hull to Harwich Sustrans cycle route.
Haughley developed within the outer bailey of a Norman castle. This gives the village its distinctive shape. Only the earthworks remain ( a privately owned and protected site). The ancient heart of Haughley is now a Conservation Area and contains many pretty, timber framed-cottages. Haughley Park nearby opens its bluebell woods for two Sundays in the spring. The house is open by appointment only. There are village shops, a pub and a restaurant in Haughley.
Hoxne is a beautiful and historic Suffolk village and worth a visit in its own right - it being the place where King Edmund was martyred at the hands of the Danes at a site just yards from the market's venue. Hoxne today is a busy, friendly village with a good community spirit plus a great village post office and shop and an excellent public house with restaurant.
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 town has changed little over the years: half-timbered houses lean crazily over the narrow streets while the magnificent Swan Hotel, a mass of wooden beams, now encompasses several surrounding cottages. The famous Lavenham Guildhall, built in 1529 by the Guild of Corpus Christi, is perhaps the town's most prominent feature. The building is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public. Little Hall, on the east side of Market Place, is the home of the Suffolk Preservation Society and is also open to the public.
Lavenham has been described as the "finest medieval town in England" and has more than 300 buildings listed as being of architectural and historical interest. The town also has an abundance of art galleries, boutique shops, tearooms, restaurants and hotels. A real gem in the South & Heart of Suffolk.
Laxfield became a settlement on the edge of some flat land where there was a stream big enough to support it. Laxfield secured a charter for markets in 1226 and managed to secure Saturday, the best day for a market.
Although there is no market today there are a considerable number of very attractive buildings in the wide main street. You will also find a shop, two pubs and a fascinating local history museum housed in the guildhall. Opening times can be found in the "What to Do" section of the web site.
Set along a broad, tree-lined street over a mile in length, Long Melford contains a delightful spread of 18th and 19th century fronted shops and houses, interspersed with the occasional original Tudor building. The village has become a major centre for the antiques trade and also has many lovely small shops, pubs and some fabulous restaurants. Nearby is the magnificent Kentwell Hall, a moated mansion approached via a long, tree-flanked drive. Restored in the 1970s by the current owners, it is open to the public and plays host to historic re-creations and other events. Melford Hall, owned by the National Trust is also in the village and is open to the public. Make sure you have plenty of time when you visit this wonderful village to browse, eat and visit these two historic houses.
The town and market here were deliberately founded about 1245 to take commercial advantage of the road from Ipswich to Bury St Edmunds. By the 1400s the cloth trade was flourishing and the town remained prosperous with many merchants from London and the continent owning many of the large, timber framed houses.
Needham Market offers pubs, cafes, farmers market, lake and nature reserve, an antique centre and several specialist shops. Nearby is Alder Carr Farm with its farm shop, flower and plant centre, pottery, gift shops and restaurant.
Polstead is a picturesque village across the river Box from Stoke by Nayland at the point where the south Suffolk plateau breaks up into a number of small valleys. The village, which featured in the Domesday Book, derives its name from the ponds which lie at the bottom of a steep hill leading up to the village green on one side with St Mary’s church and Polstead Hall on the other side.
Polstead is a lovely place with great community spirit. There is a village community shop, a village hall, which hosts regular film screenings and a delightful pub - The Cock, where local produce is used to whip up a delicious menu.
Polstead is also the village where the Murder in the Red Barn took place of the hapless Maria Marten in the 19th century. Don't miss the pretty church, just outside the main part of the village and admire the wonderful view across the valley.
Raydon is a village near Hadleigh and can be reached from Hadleigh via the Railway Walk. The village has an airfield which is one of 32 in Suffolk that was used during WWII. If you visit the village on the first Sunday in the month from June - August, enjoy homemade cake and tea in the local church from 3 - 5pm. Everyone is welcome.
Stoke By Nayland is a pretty village between Sudbury and Colchester and was a favourite with artist John Constable. There are two exceptionally good pubs in the village as well as a village shop, lots of lovely walks and several places to stay.
Stowmarket is an ancient town. Although its origins are impossible to date its name has pre-Saxon roots and evidence of a Roman settlement has been found close to the town centre. A town trail is available from the Tourist Information Centre housed at the Museum of East Anglian Life in Crowe Street.
The Museum of East Anglian life, occupying a site of 80 acres offers fascinating displays including steam traction engines, reconstructed, historic buildings and lots of friendly animals. There is also a 3km riverside and woodland walk. The Parish Church of Saint Peter and Saint Mary is part of the Church of England and has stood in the centre of Stowmarket for over 700 years – although there has probably been a Christian Church here since 637AD.
Stowmarket also offers shops, cafes, restaurants, railway station, pubs, cinema, leisure centre, River Gipping walk. Traditional and farmers markets.
Stradbroke is a pretty village with many historic buildings and can be found midway between Norwich and Ipswich. The village is a working, rural community set amidst quiet, rolling countryside and is dominated by All Saint's Church with its 15th century tower which can be seen for miles.
Stradbroke offers traditional shops, three pubs, a swimming pool and community centre. It also plays host to an annual Real Ale and Jazz Festival held on the weekend after the May Bank Holiday.
The ancient market town of Sudbury is set in the heart of the Stour Valley, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Dating back to Saxon times, for centuries the weaving and silk industry has played a key role in the town’s prosperity and its many fine buildings. The Market Hill, an architectural gem, is the main shopping hub. There are lively markets here on both Thursdays and Saturdays throughout the year. Gainsborough’s House is the birthplace of Thomas Gainsborough, where the artist’s life is comemorated. Here you can also enjoy the garden, café and shop. In the Town Hall, there is the Heritage Centre and Museum, with a fascinating historical photo archive of the town. In the evening the thriving Quay Theatre with its bar and art gallery, is a source of continually changing entertainment.
You will find plenty of cafés, restaurants, pubs and a club or wine bar, or two, to help occupy your evenings. The River Stour and the famous water meadows that half encircle Sudbury provide a source of relaxation, with walking and cycling routes as well as boating and fishing. Only 70 miles from the centre of London, Sudbury is a great place to visit at the weekend or to use as a base for touring East Anglia. There is an hourly rail service to Colchester and London. It is only one hour’s drive from Harwich and Felixstowe ports and 40 minutes drive from Stansted Airport. The tourist information centre can be found in the library.
The river Waveney defines the border between Norfolk and Suffolk for much of its length. Although the two counties are traditional rivals, seven market towns in the broader region have come together, under the aegis of the Waveney Valley Market Towns Group, to commission a series of unique audio walks that help you explore these jewels. Four towns are on the Waveney, three are close by. All seven are utterly charming! Each town has devised its own walk to help you uncover its secrets. The walks take an interesting route, perhaps to places you would not ordinarily stumble across. And as you stroll, you can listen to our very special audio guides which feature the real stars of each town: the locals! Each audio walk is a potent blend of history, memory and gossip. For more information please visit the Waveney Valley website.
The village of Wingfield lies in the northern part of Suffolk and is widely scattered with many medieval houses. In the 14th and 15th centuries Wingfield was the seat of one of the most powerful families in England and the remains of the castle are reminders of the days of the De la Poles, Earls and Dukes of Suffolk.
The Church of St Andrews is one of the most beautiful in this part of Suffolk. It was built in 1362 as the Collegiate Church of Sir John de Wingfield's Foundation. Wingfield College now behind a Georgian facade was built at the same time and is open occasionally as part of the "Invitation to View" scheme.
The De la Pole Arms is near the Church and Wingfield Barns is now open as an Arts Centre offereing drama, music, cinema, art exhibitions and workshops all the year round.
Woolpit is a very pretty village, the centre of which is a conservation area with many brick-faced, timber -framed buildings. The first documented evidence of Woolpit as a settlement is in 1005.
Here you will find traditional village shops, pubs and the Woolpit & District Museum housed in a 17th century timber-framed building showing a permanent display of brickkmaking. Other changing displays depict the life of a Suffolk village. For opening times and details on walking tours go to the "Places to Visit" section of the website.
Flatford: Regular guided walks with National Trust trained guides show the settings for Constable's paintings. May - end Sept. Tel 01206 298260
Lavenham: Regular guided walks in the summer. Sats 2.30pm; Suns and BH Mon 11am. Guided walks for groups at other times by arrangement Tel 01787 248207 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Other guided tours can be arranged by appointment for Hadleigh, Long Melford and Sudbury Tel 01787 248207, or Woolpit Tel 01359 240822
~Traditonal and Farmers' Markets~
We have a wide selection of both traditional and farmers' markets in the South & Heart of Suffolk where you can buy fresh local produce. Our farmers' markets offer you the opportunity to talk direct to the farmer or producer
Sudbury: Thursday and Saturday
Hadleigh: Friday and Saturday
Stowmarket: Thursday and Saturday
Farmers' and Artisan Markets
Harkstead: Village Hall
Third Saturday in the month. 9-12
Hartest: Pear Tree Farm
First Saturday in the month. 10-12.30
Hoxne: Artisan Market, Hoxne Village Hall (St Edmund's Hall)on the second Saturday of every month, 10am-2pm. It brings together local craftspeople selling their artisan food produce, art and crafts. Demonstrations of local crafts people at work . Café selling homemade cakes and biscuits, soups with freshly baked rolls, bacon butties and tea and coffee.
Lavenham: Village Hall
Fourth Sunday in the month. 10-1
Long Melford: Old School
Third Saturday in the month. 10-1
Needham Market: Alder Carr Farm
Third Saturday in the month. 9-2
Rickinghall: Village Hall
Second Saturday in the month. 9-1
Stowmarket: Market Place
First Friday in the month. 9.30-1
Stradbroke: Business & Enterprise College
First Saturday in the month. 9-1
Sudbury: St Peter's Church
Last Firday in the month. 9.30-1
Wherstead: Jimmy's Farm
First Saturday in the month. 10-2