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Ipswich has a pleasant, compact centre, with a number of interesting historic buildings in the Ancient House, Ipswich Museum, Custom House and St. Lawrence Church, together with a newly regenerated modern waterfront area with an attractive range of shops and cafes. Visitors on a cottage holiday can take one of the blue badge guided walks to familiarise themselves with the town, or uncover its darker secrets on one of the designated Ghost Tours. Orwell river cruises offer the chance to experience the town and the pretty Suffolk coastline from the water.
Britain’s Anglo Saxon heritage is evident both in the town and in the surrounding countryside, and one of the very finest examples is to be found at nearby Sutton Hoo, just beyond Woodbridge. The site here is of the utmost archaeological importance, and is now under the care of the National Trust, where a Visitor Centre has an exhibition with a full-scale reconstruction of the site’s ship-burial of an Anglo Saxon warrior king, complete with artefacts excavated from the giant burial chamber which remained untouched and undiscovered deep below the Suffolk countryside until the nineteen forties. In addition to a fascinating insight into our Anglo-Saxon heritage, the hundred-acre site offers lovely woodland walks with beautiful displays of seasonal flowers in the grounds.
Another glimpse of life in this era is offered at the West Stow Anglo Saxon village, between Ipswich and Bury St. Edmonds. Here, there is a reconstruction of a typical village of the period on the site of the original settlement, which dates from around 4-650 AD. Visitors can experience village life as it is thought to have been in Anglo-Saxon times, and marvel at artefacts recovered from the various excavations that have taken place on the site. The rural location makes an ideal setting for a day out, with a play park and facilities for families and a large country estate offering ample space for walks on the woodland trails, a ramble by the river or a picnic by the lake.
Another fascinating attraction for visitors to this area of East Anglia is Ickworth House and Gardens, at Stowmarket, just a short drive from West Stow. Ickworth was the whimsical creation of the eccentric fourth earl of Bristol, who commissioned the fabulous house with a striking central rotunda amid superb formal gardens in the early nineteenth century. The house is home to an important art collection, including works by Velasquez and Titian, and is open to the public. The gardens are filled with equally rare gems, including some ancient tree species and an eerie Victorian ‘Stumpery’ of upturned trees, and offer contrasting styles, from the Pleasure Gardens to the formal Italianate gardens. The vast estate has way-marked trails to be enjoyed, it can also be discovered on two wheels using the designated family cycle trail, and younger visitors can run off steam in a children’s play area.
Those who enjoy a day at Ickworth may also appreciate a country residence of a different nature at the ancient Wyken estate, less than ten miles from Bury St. Edmonds. Here, the visitor will find more modern gardens in the grounds of an Elizabethan country house, romantically created and cultivated over the last thirty years with a seamless blend of rose garden, wildflower maze, kitchen garden, nuttery and much more. Also on the estate is a thriving vineyard, producing four varieties of wine, which can be sampled at a restaurant and café on the site. Also farmers markets are held on the estate on Saturday mornings.
Why not take a look at our self catering cottages in Suffolk?