A Weekend in Sudbury
PUBLISHED: 15:31 06 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:09 20 February 2013
With a feast of Bank Holidays approaching, Joanne Jarvis finds Sudbury and the surrounding area can offer entertainment for even the very longest of weekends...
With a feast of Bank Holidays approaching, JoanneJarvis finds Sudbury and the surrounding area can offer entertainment for even the very longest of weekends.
Follow the River Stour inland from its coastal point at Manningtree and, via some of Englands most charming countryside, you will eventually reach Sudbury. Itself a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sudbury is a thriving market town and home to a quaint collection of independent shops, restaurants and tearooms.
Just as the twists and turns of the River Stour inspired John Constable further down stream, the countryside around Sudbury and the flow of this same river proved a catalyst for the work of another of Englands most famous portrait and landscape artists, Thomas Gainsborough.
Gainsborough was born in Sudburys Selpulchre Street in 1727, although this has since been renamed Gainsborough Street in honour of the man. His birthplace, Gainsboroughs House, was originally two cottages that were joined together in about 1520 and a brick facade was added in the 1720s by the artists father. In 1958 a charitable trust was set up to buy the building and open it as a memorial to the artist and it was established as a museum in 1961. Today it remains the only famous artists birthplace open to the public in Britain and features a large collection of paintings, drawings and prints as well as temporary exhibitions.
Gainsboroughs House (Pictured right)is just one example of the towns vibrant mix of outstanding architecture which complement an abundance of green open spaces within the town, including Belle Vue Park. The River Stour, which was once used to transport grain, bricks and coal to the town, retains a sense of tranquillity and there is also the chance to retrace the route of these barges. River trips begin adjacent to the Quay Theatre and The Granary, the headquarters of the River Stour Trust, and carry visitors down the river to Conrad Lock or to Henry Swan riverside pub, with the chance to stop off at a number of other idyllic spots along the River Stour, including Dedham and Flatford.
Protect a piece of history Explore beyond Sudbury Be entertained!
Exploring the surrounding areas of Sudbury by car is equally rewarding and within a short drive there are a number of exquisite villages to explore. North of Sudbury is Long Melford (pictured right), famed for its collection of antique shops, fairs and traditional high street, which has attracted visitors for a leisurely stroll in sumptuous surroundings for centuries. Of particular note are the villages two red brick Tudor mansions Melford Hall and Kentwell Hall. Kentwall Hall stages unique recreations of Tudor domestic life throughout the tourist season, as well as looking back at other periods in the history of this famous house in special re-enactment days. This Easter, you can visit Kentwell Hall to see how the Tudors cooked hot cross buns in the bakehouse, as well as other aspects of life from this time. Meanwhile, the National Trusts Melford Hall sheds a light on 500 years of history, and is also a great place for an afternoon tea.
Another architectural gem just to the northeast of Sudbury is Lavenham, which has been described as Englands finest medieval village and is renowned for its timber-framed buildings, 15th century church, 16th century Guildhall and a famous Wool Hall that still stands as a tribute to the source of Lavenhams past prosperity.And if you are still looking for more to do, to the west of Sudbury is Castle Hedingham, home to a 110-feet high Norman keep. Built around 1140 by Aubrey de Vere, it is still owned by one of his descendants and the grounds host various jousting tournaments and theatrical performances open to the public.With Easter on the horizon, Sudbury and its surrounding villages will keep you entertained for the long weekend and beyond.
Get a glimpse of the past Admire the architechture Grab a bit to eat