The Village Round and About

Long Melford is in the heart of the valley of the Stour river. The scenery is something special, and two hundred years ago John Constable thought so too, using scenes from the river in many of his famous paintings.

The countryside is dotted with ancient villages, never more than a few miles apart, but they hide in the hollows, and from a distance you may not see more than a church tower.

The villages themselves often centre on a village green, with colour-washed buildings around it and the odd sprinkling of thatch. The traditional colour for house walls in Suffolk is pink, and nowadays it is at least as common as ever it was in history. It is, so to speak, the smile on the face of a friendly place, and in Suffolk you find it everywhere.

To the west, the beautiful villages of Cavendish, Clare, and Stoke by Clare are close by, along the valley of the Stour, on the road to Haverhill and Cambridge.
A mile or two to the North is the village of Glemsford, known both there and in Long Melford as "Little Egypt". It boasts a fine church, several interesting 16th Century houses, and a very lively troop of Morris Men (the people who do morris dancing in the dew of a May Day morning). Their light-hearted web site is great fun and highly recommended.

The village of Lavenham is only 5 miles away, with many remarkable buildings surviving from the wealthy days of the cloth trade in Tudor times. It is one of the showpieces of Suffolk.

Kersey, with its famous stream running across the main street, is a little further on. There is a working pottery there, as well as a fine church (and a fine pub too, of course!).

The towns have their beauties too.

Sudbury, the town where the artist Thomas Gainsborough was born, is 3 miles to the south, with a working silk mill (Vanners) which can be visited, together with Gainsborough's House and the Quay theatre. In the past, river boats brought prosperity to Sudbury as they could get no higher up the Stour. (Beyond that it was horse-drawn carts or nothing!) Nowadays it is a bustling town of nearly 20000 people, with a fine mixture of industries strung out along the northern bypass.

Bury St Edmunds, the cathedral town of Suffolk, is 12 miles north along the A134. It is rich in history, and has a wonderful collection of historic buildings and museums. They have their own surprises for the visitor. For example, the Manor House Museum is home to an outstanding collection of clocks and watches, mainly from Britain, but with an important section on American clocks as well. There is also a changing programme of costumes on display.The town has its own web site, which is well worth a visit.

Cambridge, the ancient university city, is less than an hour away to the West. You can get there along the A14 from Bury St Edmunds, and come back more gently along the A604 and A1092 through Haverhill and the Stour valley; Stoke by Clare, Clare, Cavendish, and so to Long Melford.

For more details on where to go and what to see in Suffolk, have a look at the comprehensive web site run by Suffolk County Council.