What is Suffolk famous for?
- Credit: iWitness/Richard Brunton
From incredible landscapes to historic delights galore, these are just eight of the things that put the county proudly on the map.
When someone asks what makes you think of Suffolk, chances are one of the first things that springs to mind are the gorgeous, endless miles of coastline.
From Felixstowe in the south, through to Aldeburgh and Southwold, right the way up to Lowestoft, there are a number beautiful seaside towns that see hundreds of thousands of people flock here en masse every year.
Suffolk’s beaches are so world-renowned in fact that a number of famous faces have made the county’s coastal villages and towns home at some point in their lives. Keira Knightley reportedly has a home in Walberswick, Griff Rhys Jones has lived on the Shotley peninsula for around three decades, and screenwriter Richard Curtis and partner Emma Freud have resided on the Suffolk coast since the 1990s.
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Larger resorts aside, Suffolk is also home to some of the country’s best kept secrets and hidden escapes. Covehithe for instance is a peaceful stretch of sand backed by eroding cliffs and dotted with sculpture-like tree trunks. Behind it is Benacre Broad, a brackish lagoon that forms part of the beautiful Benacre National Nature Reserve.
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Known for its swathes of rural farmland and open skies, Suffolk is a rambler’s dream as its flat, vast terrain makes it the perfect place to go for a walk, run, hike or bike ride.
Venture out to Thorpeness and gaze up at the wonder that is The House in the Clouds, a 20th century water tower that has been converted to look like a home right out of a fairytale book. Alternatively, head to places such as Bardwell, Pakenham, and Saxtead Green - all home to some impressive and grand windmills that can still be seen to this day.
Being the most easterly point in the UK
Scotland may have John O’Groats, Cornwall may have Land’s End, but here in Suffolk we have Ness Point – the most easterly point in the United Kingdom.
Located in Lowestoft, the spot is marked with a plaque which indicates its distance to other extreme points across the country.
Suffolk’s far easterly location is also what makes it one of the driest and warmest counties in the UK, with much of its settlements receiving less than 700mm of rainfall annually.
Its horses and connection to horseracing
As the name suggests, our fair county is the birthplace of the Suffolk Punch – the oldest English breed of working horse. The foundation sire of the modern Suffolk Punch was foaled in Ufford in 1768, and owned by Thomas Crisp. While they are currently listed as ‘critical’ by the UK Rare Breeds Survival Trust, a resurgence in interest for the horse has meant more of them are being bred, and population numbers are on the up which is great news.
In addition to this, Suffolk is where you will find Newmarket – the undisputed home of modern-day horseracing. Newmarket’s history with the sport goes all the way back to the 12th century, and became especially popular when King James I regularly raced there during his reign back in the 1600s. Ever since, it has been the epicentre of the sport, with millions around the world tuning in every year to see a number of prestigious races take place on either the Rowley Mile or the July Course.
Its incredible history
History buffs can all agree that Suffolk is an absolute dream when it comes to yesteryear. Whether your forte is ancient, medieval or modern studies, this county is known the world over for its fascinating history and archaeology.
Suffolk's history can be traced all the way back to the 5th century, when it was part of the kingdom of East Anglia following settlement by the Angles – a Germanic tribe that settled in Great Britain in the post-Roman period. A number of impressive sites, monuments and ruins from over the years still stand to this day, including the remains of Clare Castle from the 11th century, Aldeburgh’s Moot Hall which was built in 1520, and the Tudor-era Lavenham Guildhall to name but a few.
More recently, the world’s spotlight shone brightly on Suffolk thanks to The Dig, a Netflix adaptation of the events that took place at Sutton Hoo. Dubbed as one of the 'greatest archaeological discoveries of all time' by the British Museum, we couldn’t be prouder that it all happened right here in Suffolk.
And for any metal detector hobbyists out there, it will come as no surprise that the county is also a coveted hotspot for anyone who wishes to unearth Roman, medieval or Victorian artefacts galore.
What do the royal family, Adele, and Michelle Obama all have in common? All three have, at some point, been draped in silk that has been woven right here in Suffolk. Suffolk's weaving history goes all the way back to the 18th century – and has continued to thrive, hundreds of years later.
Clients from all over the world flock to silk makers such as Sudbury’s Gainsborough Fine Weavers, Stephen Walters, and David Walters Fabrics for some of the finest silks that money can buy. The county’s silk is so prestigious in fact that Gainsborough has held a highly-coveted Royal Warrant since 1980.
Anyone who’s a regular reader of our Weird Suffolk series will know all too well that Suffolk is a county filled with spooky tales, legends and myths galore.
A number of its hotels, pubs and historic buildings are reportedly home to ghosts, spectres and spirits – even some of our villages have some stories to tell. For instance, the settlement of Woolpit is where the famous ‘green children’ were reported to have visited in the 12th century, and who could forget the tale of the Black Shuck – a ghostly dog that has been seen to roam around East Anglia. He has been spotted in places such as Bardwell, Barham and Bungay.
More recently and even more famously however, Suffolk was the location of the 1980 Rendlesham Incident, in which a series of unexplained lights were seen glowing near the forest. Dubbed by many in the paranormal community as ‘Britain’s Roswell’, it has become this country’s most infamous UFO event and still has people scratching their heads, 40 years on.
Its depiction in art
Most famously, Suffolk can be seen in a handful of paintings by John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough – two 18th century painters who spent many of their formative years in the county. Constable’s The Hay Wain (1821) depicts the River Stour, with Willy Lott's Cottage on the left-hand side of the painting, while Gainsborough’s 1748 landscape painting Cornard Wood is set near Sudbury.
Other artists who have been inspired by Suffolk include Sir Alfred Munnings, Thomas Churchyard and George Thomas Rope.
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