Wish you were there

PUBLISHED: 16:06 09 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:18 20 February 2013

Long Melford is officially one of the most desirable places to live in the UK. Nancy Richardson explains why, for Essex residents, it is also a popular place to visit

TALK to a Melfordian and you will find they are incredibly friendly and far from surprised that their village of Long Melford has recently won the illustrious accolade of being the seventh most desirable village in Britain.

The accolade is a result of a recent customer survey conducted by estate agent Savills, which considered the features people prize most in a village when deciding which location was most desirable.

Tom Orford, associate director of Savills Suffolk, said: 'I think Long Melford is in the top 20 for a number of reasons. There is a great mix of shops and beautiful architecture, which keeps prices high. It is also quite well planned with easy access to Colchester and Bury St Edmunds, and surrounded by the lovely country estate of Melford Hall.'

This thriving and historic Suffolk village, located near Sudbury, is full of locals who are convinced that this recognition is thoroughly justified. Robin Brown has lived in Long Melford for the past 56 years and was delighted with the announcement. 'To be honest, I wouldn't live anywhere else thanks to the fun, friendly atmosphere,' says Robin.

Freda Hurrell, who was born and raised in Long Melford agrees. 'News goes round like wildfire here, as it does in any small community, but I really appreciate how friendly and supportive the villagers are,' she adds.

Even newcomers feel the same. 'It's so picturesque and people have time to welcome strangers, even my 70-year-old mother commented on that when she came to visit,' says Mark Grundy, 36, manager of the Cock & Bell Inn, who moved to the village 18 months ago from Blackpool.

So what gives Long Melford this overwhelming appeal? Occupied since at least 100BC, Long Melford was recorded in the Domesday Book and the village layout was defined in Roman times when the empire built two roads through Melford, the main one running from Chelmsford through to Pakenham. Its name is derived from the nature of this long, three-mile stretch of single road, called Hall Street, and the Mill Ford crossing the Chad Brook, a tributary of the River Stour.

Long Melford is now home to a population of about 4,500. It is still famous for being often featured in the BBC TV series Lovejoy during the 1980s, attracting visitors and holidaymakers from all over the world, but today the antique dealers are part of a much more diverse range of shops.

In the heart of the valley of the Stour River, the scenery around the village certainly is stunning and 200 years ago, John Constable thought so too, using scenes from the river in many of his famous paintings.

Melford is also home to not just one, but two stately homes. The first, Kentwell, is a romantic, moated Tudor mansion set in tranquil parkland. Beautiful gardens and historic farm buildings, complete with an array of rare breeds of animals are open to the public regularly. An open-air theatre at Kentwell is the setting for plays and concerts during the summer and it also holds regular re-creations of life in Tudor times, when the hall is inhabited by up to 250 men, women and children who live, act and dress as authentically as possible.

The second Elizabethan stately home, Melford Hall, played host to Elizabeth I when she was entertained lavishly here, along with 2,000 members of her court. It now belongs to the National Trust and is open to the public during the summer. Melford Hall Park also forms the setting for the extremely popular, Big Night Out bonfire and fireworks event in November, which attracts hordes of visitors from the surrounding towns and villages.

Community spirit
Holy Trinity Church completes the landscape at the north of the village overlooking the green and is a parish church of dimensions more suited to a cathedral. Edmund Blunden, the World War I poet, is buried in the churchyard.

Nick Barnes, 34, moved to the village two years ago. He owns and manages The Crown Hotel, a free house built in 1610 in the heart of the village and recently married Angela, 35, a journalist.

Nick explains: 'We originally moved here for business purposes, but we have thoroughly enjoyed living here, as you need only walk along the high street to be greeted by fellow villagers every day and there is a real sense of community spirit.

'The Riot Act, of 1714 was originally read on the steps of The Crown, which was introduced by the Parliament of Great Britain authorising local authorities to declare any group of more than 12 people to be unlawfully assembled, and thus have to disperse or face punitive action. It makes me smile now, as I enjoy meeting the many Melfordians and visitors who come here to relax at the bar and put the world to rights still.'

Angela agrees: 'The village is a great place to live if you want to escape city living but still enjoy a cosmopolitan lifestyle. There is a relaxed café culture, easy access to fabulous shops, a mix of interesting, welcoming people from a whole host of different backgrounds and experiences and the countryside is right on your doorstep. Our friends from London and abroad are always keen to come and visit.'


0 comments

More from Homes & Gardens

Thursday, October 25, 2018

James Merriott continues his watercolourtour of the county in a village which has more beauty than most, despite the impression of its name

Read more
Friday, October 5, 2018

With one of the warmest and driest summers on record, this year has been a difficult one for gardeners. Susie Bulman from The Beth Chatto Gardens at Elmstead Market shares some top tips for plant survival, even in these conditions

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Whatever style of carpet, rug or runner you need, we’ve got tips for choosing a style, brands to try and how to care for your new carpet

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Whatever style of carpet, rug or runner you need, we’ve got tips for choosing a style, brands to try and how to care for your new carpet

Read more
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

As we head into Autumn, the change in season is all around us. From the leaves on the trees turning burnt orange and fiery red, to dark mornings and nights bookending our days. As we put the clocks back an hour to battle the darkness, here’s some top tips on how you can keep your home warm and costs down this Autumn.

Read more
Friday, August 31, 2018

Rural energy provider, Calor, gives some top tips for homeowners wanting to make their houses cosy and warm in time for the colder months.

Read more
Friday, July 27, 2018

Essex Life showcases a chic collection of top places to stay which, while close enough to home, still offer an idyllic escape. Here are 12 great staycations in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Hertfordshire

Read more
Sunday, July 1, 2018

Residential property company heylo recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant, pledging its commitment to fair treatment and support to the Armed Forces community, including regulars, reserves, veterans and their families. The signing took place in a ceremony held at Wellington Barracks

Read more
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

You can’t beat that feeling of walking over the threshold of a brand new home that has only been lived in by you. Essex Life showcases a selection of some of the local developments offering you exactly this opportunity

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory



Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search