How many more of these Suffolk village signs do you know the meanings of?

The WIld Man of Sproughton, depicted on the village's sign

The WIld Man of Sproughton, depicted on the village's sign - Credit: Keith Evans/Geograph.org.uk

Reported to have the second largest number of village signs in the UK, every corner of Suffolk is full of weird, wonderful and interesting signs.  

Here are five more village and town signs, and what they mean.  

Sproughton 

Found just three miles outside of Ipswich is the village of Sproughton – and its village sign depicts a tale most interesting.  

Shown on the left-hand side of the colourful wooden sign is the settlement’s late 18th century Grade II-listed Georgian water mill, and to the right is a man running away, carrying a screaming child. But who is this man? And what is he up to? 


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That’s the Wild Man of course...

Legend has it this man was an eccentric hermit who lived in Devil’s Wood nearby. Some tales portray him simply as a vagabond who resided in the woods – while others more sinister suggest he would kidnap the village’s young and run off into the woods with them. 

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So infamous of a tale that the village’s former 16th century pub was named after the mysterious man. 

Fressingfield's village sign

Fressingfield's village sign - Credit: Owen Hines

Fressingfield 

Fressingfield’s village sign, found on Jubilee Corner, depicts a pilgrim and pack mule. This is in reference to the settlement’s association with the 55-mile pilgrimage that many would make to Bury St Edmunds during the Anglo-Saxon period, where people would travel to pay their respects to martyr-king Saint Edmund, who was killed in 869 by the Great Heathen Army of Danes. 

Erected in 1953, the original sign was donated to a local school and replaced with the current version, which was created in order to commemorate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. 

Snape's village sign

Snape's village sign - Credit: Wendy Turner

Brandeston  

Brandeston’s wrought-iron village sign features one of the many thatched cottages that can be found dotted throughout the settlement; the Grade I-listed medieval Church of All Saints, and the Revett family crest in the top centre.  

Andrew Revett was a 16th century government official and country gentleman who bought Brandeston Hall in 1543. He died in 1572, after being imprisoned in the Tower of London for 15 weeks following a land dispute, and was later buried in the chancel of the Church of All Saints. 

Just to the left of the village sign is a hanging man – this is local vicar John Lowes, who was hung in 1645 by self-appointed Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins after he accused him of being in cahoots with the devil. A plaque commemorating John can be found in the village church.  

Clare's sign

Clare's sign - Credit: Su Anderson

Clare 

Home to an estimated 185 listed or protected buildings and monuments, the Suffolk town of Clare pays homage to many of these on its colourful wooden sign which can be found on Nethergate Street.  

On the top left is Clare Castle, a high-mounted ruinous medieval castle that overlooks the settlement, and directly opposite is St Peter and St Paul's Church, a Grade I-listed medieval parish church. Beneath the two is carving of a chained swan - which was the badge of King Henry IV. This same swan can also be found on the sign for the eponymous village pub, The Swan. 

The bottom half of the sign features the historic Clare Priory and Ancient House. Established in 1248, the former is one of the oldest religious houses in England and was the first house of the Augustinian Friars in the country. Built in 1473, the former is one of the settlement’s most eye-catching buildings, and is particularly known for the pargetting on its exterior. 

Snape's village sign

Snape's village sign - Credit: Wendy Turner

Snape 

Designed by Jenny Toombs, and created by Hector Moore of Brandeston Forge, Snape’s village sign was dedicated to former resident Ken Haslam in 1987.  

On the top left of the sign is a ship, and this refers to the Anglo-Saxon vessel that was uncovered in the 19th century by landowner Septimus Davidson. On the top right is a kneeling monk, which commemorates the Benedictine Order at the former Priory of St.  Mary, and beneath that is a curlew bird, which symbolises the inspiration that famed composer Benjamin Britten took from his surroundings for his musical drama Curlew River.  

To the bottom left is the village’s former bridge, which was built in 1802 and demolished in 1960. Many of the bricks from the bridge went on to form part of other structures in the area, including a bus shelter near the church and a curved wall within the grounds of the Red House in Aldeburgh, where Benjamin Britten lived until his death.  

At the top of the crest of a cross that is based on the Consecration Cross which can be found on the south door of the village’s Saint John the Baptist Church. Beneath the sign are four reeds, which represent the abundance of reeds growing by the River Alde on which Snape sits.  

Do you have a favourite Suffolk village or town sign that didn’t make the list? Get in touch with danielle.lett@archant.co.uk to share yours. 

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