Sudbury. Birth Place of Thomas Gainsborough.
Originally settled by the Anglo Saxons in the 8th century Sudbury became notable as a centre of the textile and silk trade during the Middle Ages. Many of the grand buildings, churches and mills of this picturesque market town, located on the border between Suffolk and Essex, date back to this era.
During the 18th century the landscapes of the surrounding countryside of the Stour Valley and Dedham Vale famously provided inspiration for artists such as John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough, the later becoming Sudbury’s most well known native. Gainsborough’s House, the place of his birth, is open to the public and includes museum exhibits, a permanent collection of Gainsborough’s works, a print workshop and a fabulous shop.
As it runs through the heart of Sudbury The Stour Valley is flanked by water meadows. The meadows, a mecca for nature lovers and walkers, are traditionally managed as The Sudbury Common Lands nature reserve. The River Stour itself is classified as navigable and is popular with rowers and canoeists.
Sudbury’s charming town centre still plays host to its historic market on Thursdays and Saturdays with a farmers market www.suffolkmarketevents.co.uk in St Peter’s Church on the last Friday of every month. The usual high street names can be found here as well as a thriving community of independent local shops and places to eat.
Lavenham. Historic Mediaeval Village.
The wealthy Mediaeval village of Lavenham was once famous for its production of blue-coloured wool cloth and is now widely regarded as England’s finest remaining Medieval Village.
Open to the public The Guildhall of Corpus Christi is one of the most well known buildings in a village that contains many outstanding examples of surviving Mediaeval timber framed arcitecture.
Visible from miles around is the tower of The Church of St Peter and St Paul completed in 1530. This building is testament to the wealth generated in Suffolk at the time by the wool trade.
Lavenham is well known for its eateries. There are many tea rooms, restaurants and traditional pubs as well as independent shops selling locally produced food and crafts.
Check out the discover Lavenham website for more information.
Clare and Cavendish. The Finest Suffolk Villages.
Clare, and neighbouring Cavendish, are amongst the finest traditional villages in the county.
Like the nearby villages of Lavenham and Long Melford, Clare grew rich from the Mediaeval wool industry. Today Clare boasts a 13th century Augustinian Priory, Clare Country Park, the ruins of Clare Castle dating back to William the Conqueror, a Mediaeval Town Church, and the Ancient House Museum. The village has proudly held the title of Suffolk Village of the Year from 2010-2012. www.clare-uk.com
Cavendish is a picturesque village neighbouring Clare on the road to Long Melford. The village is famous for its beautiful green and listed thatched cottages.
The Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Constable Country.
The gently rolling lowlands of the Stour Valley, east of Sudbury towards the sea at Manningtree, was famously the subject of John Constable’s art. These days the Dedham Vale is often referred to as Constable Country. Now designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty the landscape of the Essex, Suffolk border has lost none of its charm and remains very popular with visitors both for it’s landscapes and history.
Flatford Mill was built in 1733. This is the site of some of Constable’s most famous paintings including The Hay Wain and Willy Lot’s Cottage. It get’s busy but worth the visit if you are a Constable fan.
There are a huge number of traditional villages such as Boxford, Nayland, Dedham and East Bergholt all great places to just walk about and take in the atmosphere.
The Dedham Vale has beautiful ancient woodlands, water meadows and other natural sites and is definitely worth a visit.
Long Melford. Two Stately Homes and Antiques Galore!
One of the finest historic villages in South Suffolk, it’s our local village and an easy fifteen to twenty minute bike ride from The Shepherd’s Hut. Long Melford grew rich from the proceeds of the wool cloth industry of the Tudor period. Today the legacy of that wealth is evident in the fantastic church, stately homes and wonderful buildings located along Hall Street.
You can get everything you need from Long Melford. It’s collection of shops include a fabulous butchers called Ruse & Sons, a very good chemist and a small Co-op that has pretty much everything. There is also a large collection of craft shops, art galleries and antique emporiums. It’s a lovely long High Street that you can just wander up and down.
Melford also has a great reputation for eating out with a good range of restaurants, tea shops and historic pubs.
Bury St Edmunds. Famous Market Town.
The long history of this traditional Suffolk market town is expressed in the melange of mediaeval shops and houses, grand Georgian squares, stone walls and the ruins of the abbey as well as more contemporary arcitecture.
The brand new shopping precinct in Bury St Edmunds complements the huge market which boasts over 80 stalls on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Bury’s Theatre Royal is the last remaining Regency playhouse in the country.
View the Visit Bury St Edmunds website for more details.