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Mid Suffolk tourist information & travel guide

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Returning to the coast you reach the most easterly town in Britain, Lowestoft. This is first and foremost a thriving fishing port, and secondly a holiday resort. There is a Marina, two theme based piers, an amusement park, and in the East Point Pavilion, the Mayhem Adventure Soft-Play area, something to keep young children out of mischief when on holiday. Lowestoft has an historic High Street and an unusual triangular Market Place which hosts the weekly market. Other things to try out if you are holidaying here are visits to one of the local smoke-houses, and the Lowestoft Porcelain factory, where you can paint your own wares, and if you like tea, there is a café on the sea-front which serves 33 different types.

The centre of Suffolk, between the rivers Waverney in the north and Stour in the south, is where the county drew its wealth from in the middle ages with the production of wool and woolen cloth. From Eye in the north, a heritage town on the river Dove, to Sudbury in the south, a trip through this part of Suffolk is like a visit to the set of an edition of Lovejoy. You will recognize so many places from period films and television dramas - many of the available holiday cottages have featured on the screen too!

The village of Lavenham is without doubt the prettiest in Suffolk, and one of the best-preserved medieval villages in the whole of England. Unfortunately this has meant that it is now almost swamped by the number of tourists who descend on it every year. There are more than 300 listed buildings, some timber-framed, others lavishly decorated with pargeting, cosy pink thatched cottages to rent, crooked houses, antique shops, ancient inns, art galleries, and excellent restaurants. When the woolen industry moved to the north and west of England the inhabitants of Lavenham could not afford to build more modern housing. Their loss, our gain!

To the south, the village of Long Melford is best known for having perhaps the longest High Street in England over 2 miles and the lovely timber-framed buildings that line it. In the centre of the village is Melford Hall, a turreted Tudor mansion, which still has the original wooden paneling in its Banqueting Hall, a Regency library, and charming gardens. Kentwell Hall, to the north of the village, is Tudor, as well, and is a moated Country House with its own bakery, gardens and some interesting brick mosaic paths. There are some wonderful places to eat and drink in Long Melfort (perfect if you are renting a holiday cottage here), including two on the village green, which are very welcoming with leather wing-back chairs next to glowing log fires.

Sudbury is the largest of these wool towns and has survived the loss of the woolen trade by transferring much of its production to silk weaving, although it still produces its characteristic blue cloth. The main attraction in Sudbury is Gainsborough's House, the very building in which the artist was born, and now something of a shrine to him. The Museum now houses the largest collection of his work in England, including the only known sculpture the artist is known to have produced. There are a great variety of houses to rent for a holiday in Suffolk nearby. Sudbury was also the inspiration for Charles Dickens as the town of Eatanswill in The Pickwick Papers.

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