Step back in time and discover the 15th century wool towns, which are some of the best-preserved historic towns and prettiest villages in Suffolk
The wool towns of Suffolk were once-thriving settlements an among the richest places in the country during the medieval period, when the wool trade was at its peak. Across the county, the wealth was used to build beautiful timber-framed houses and ever-grander churches, many of which are still standing and can be visited today! Read our guide to visiting these Suffolk gems…
A mini break in Lavenham, Suffolk
Explore the quaint and quirky village of Lavenham this summer. Discover the multicoloured, crooked Tudor cottages on a guided walking trail. Pick up a compass from the Guildhall, and search for hidden carvings, doorways and wonky lines on the one-mile self-guided tour. The route can be downloaded at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lavenham-guildhall/trails/lavenham-crooked-houses-walk.
If you’re still full of energy, explore inside the Guildhall, and learn all about the five centuries worth of history and secrets contained within, from a strange woman who made peculiar potions to how the prisoners used to escape when the hall housed a bridewell. Visit Little Hall Museum, a cornucopia of treasures in a 14th century house, collected by the Gayer-Anderson brothers during their travels. It is one of the oldest houses in Suffolk!
There are many places to eat in Lavenham, so you won’t be going hungry. If you just want a slice of cake or a sandwich, visit Lavenham Blue Vintage Tearooms. Located in a Grade II listed 15th century timber-framed cottage overlooking the Market Square, tuck into afternoon tea served in traditional bone china teacups whilst you enjoy vintage classics played on the gramophone.
If you prefer something a bit fancy, visit The Swan for a spot of fine dining. Eat inside the British Brasserie or dine alfresco on the courtyard terrace. The British menu offers classics with an innovative twist. The restaurant also has a number of raw, dairy-free and gluten-free options, and are also happy to create bespoke menus on request.
Things to do in Long Melford, Suffolk
Visit one of the most desirable villages in Britain and explore the charming independent shops, vibrant art galleries, antiques centres, cafes and restaurants that Long Melford has to offer. Combine that with the amazing architecture and picturesque countryside, you will be able to spend hours in this historical town without getting bored!
Explore the 16th century stately home at Melford Hall and learn all about its 500 year history. There are a number of trails that you and the kids can take part in; spot bugs around the house and learn about the damage they cause if they’re not warned off. If the weathers good, let off some steam outdoors, follow clues and learn about the wildlife that can be found in the garden. Unravel the local history at Long Melford Heritage Centre with displays about the heritage of the village.
Grab a bite to eat at one of the traditional tearooms, Tiffin’s Tea Emporium has a large variety of loose leaf teas and delicious homemade cakes and scones, baked daily, or visit the retro themed Fanny Anne’s for afternoon tea. If you’re after a more substantial meal, visit the award-winning Scutchers Restaurant. The menu has a range of classic British meals with a creative, modern twist, as well as a large and varied wine list.
Weekend getaways to Clare & Cavendish, Suffolk
Situated in the rolling Suffolk countryside, Clare is an old wool town with a fascinating history. The town is full of interesting places to visit and offers a wide range of shops, antique outlets and high quality local cafes, and the famous picturesque cottages.
Visit one of the oldest religious houses in England at Clare Priory, which was first established back in 1248! Visitors are welcome to stroll around and enjoy the gardens and grounds or explore Clare Castle Country Park and the ruins. Learn all about the town’s heritage in a 1502 Grade I listed building at the Clare Ancient House Museum. The exhibitions inside tell the story of the town, from how the Lords and Ladies lived in luxury to how the ordinary people worked and lived.
If you get peckish, visit The Bell Hotel and grab a light bite from the lunch menu. If you’re really hungry, there is a three-course menu on offer, as well as a menu dedicated to burgers! Pay a visit to The Swan Inn, a traditional pub with a menu serving ‘pub-grub’ and large outdoor seating area with a children’s playground.
Famous for its thatched cottages, 75 being listed period buildings, and the luscious green in the centre, the village of Cavendish is one of the prettiest in Suffolk. Set against a backdrop of the historic Saint Mary’s Church, it mimics the scene of a traditional English village. The river Stour flows through, forming the county boundary between Suffolk and Essex, as well as providing scenic walks along the river. Take the Stour Valley Path which goes right through the village or one of the many footpaths leading into the surrounding countryside.
Eat at the award -winning The George Pub, which is positioned on the edge of the village green. The menu is guided by the seasons to ensure the produce used is of the highest quality and sustainable, utilising their own garden to grow seasonal veg.
Another favourite is the pub that’s painted pink; The Five Bells, you won’t miss it! Offering traditional pub food, as well as an outdoor seating area overlooking the green, it is perfect on a summer’s day. If you want a lighter bite, visit the renowned Tea Rooms situated in the Cavendish Antiques store, have a browse of the fine antique furniture, art work, lighting and collectables from the 17th century and finish off with a freshly made cake and a cup of tea.