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Suffolk is England at it`s most tranquil and rural. A landscape that has inspired artists and musicians like Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable and Benjamin Britten. Many scholars believe the Anglo-Saxon `Epic of Beowulf`, the oldest known English poem, was composed in the County over twelve hundred years ago! There are no motorways and few large cities but numerous attractive villages and small towns like Lavenham, Clare, Kersey or Framlingham, whose streets are lined by timber framed and elaborately pargeted (plastered) houses. Many date back to the 15th and 16th Centuries, a time when Suffolk was a major force in the English economy, it`s merchants growing wealthy on the proceeds of the wool and cloth trade. They gave generously for the improvement of church buildings and the County claims some of the most spectacular medieval churches in England. Today agriculture is the principle industry of Suffolk, which boasts outstanding locally produced food and is home to many breweries and vineyards.

AMERICAN CONNECTIONS: In 1602 the Suffolk born adventurer and entrepreneur Bartholomew Gosnold sailed to the Americas, where he named both Cape Cod and Martha`s Vineyard, the latter after his infant daughter. In 1607 he was instrumental in establishing the first permanent English colony in America, at Jamestown. Twenty years later many of the Pilgrim Father`s came from Suffolk and throughout East Anglia, it is no coincidence that the first three shires in New England were named after Suffolk and the adjacent counties of Essex and Norfolk. From 1943-45, almost half a million US military personnel passed through East Anglia, most as part of the 8th USAAF. The airfields required for this entailed the largest civil construction project ever undertaken in the UK. Though most ceased operation after 1945, Suffolk is still dotted with memorials and museums relating to this period, some actually housed in former airfield buildings. These are fascinating places to visit particularly for those whose relatives served during this dramatic period of history, which is the subject of a forthcoming HBO mini series 'Masters of The Air', directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks.

For a longer excursion, perhaps a night or two staying in hotel or farmhouse accommodation, why not take a trip that combines historic medieval churches, picture postcard villages and countryside with a visit to local museums and airfield memorials that movingly recall more recent events?

Blythburgh Church


Tower Bridge
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