Explore Long Melford
PUBLISHED: 12:27 13 March 2017
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Indulge your love of art and antiques, admire mellow Kentwell Hall and Melford Hall, browse stylish fashion for you and your home, and drop into an eatery for some tasty local food
You’ll need to put your walking boots on to explore Long Melford, which is reported to have one of the longest high streets in the country (about 2.5 miles).
Begin at Holy Trinity Church, built in 1484, and enjoy a leisurely stroll through the centre of one of Suffolk’s most interesting villages, filled with art galleries, antiques shops, independent gift and fashion stores, and excellent cafes, restaurants and pubs.
What to see and do
And absolute must is Kentwell Hall, which has been a labour of love for the Phillips family. Patrick Phillips took over the reins of the neglected property around four decades ago, embarking on a brave restoration project, the fruits of which can be seen in the public rooms, charming gardens and rare breeds farm.
The hall is famous for its Time Tunnel recreation events, but so much more is set to happen in 2017, according to marketing manager Sharon Scott.
“We have made a deliberate effort to start offering events you wouldn’t normally expect to have at Kentwell Hall as we wanted to dispel some myths about what we are about. We’re planning theatre and opera shows. We had a great magic day, and we’re looking to introduce open air cinema as we look to appeal to a wider demographic. Other plans include Kentwell experiences, offering accommodation on-site with tours of local vineyards, canoeing and bike trails.
“Because it is a family owned house people have that freedom to walk around, which you don’t always get at stately homes. Children can run through the woods, climb trees, make dens and enjoy the storybook trails.”
Long Melford is blessed with not just one Tudor mansiion, but two. Nearby National Trust property Melford Hall is also fascinating to visit, not least for its connections to Beatrix Potter.
Long Melford’s high street is filled with really interesting shops. Pop into Lady Jane department store for presents, accessories and kitchenalia.
At Melford Antiques, you’ll get lost browsing the ever-changing bounty of retro, vintage and genuine antique items from more than 150 dealers. There are small pocket money pieces ideal for children, through to fine cabinets, dining sets and more for the serious collector.
Long Melford is a fantastic place for art collectors and browsers with some very fine galleries, including Lime Tree Gallery, Hunter Gallery, The Famous Old House and the Jessica Muir Gallery.
Fashion-wise, the latest looks can be found at Angela, where brands include Joseph Ribkoff and Gerry Weber, and at Nutmeg you’ll find Part Two, Sahara and Great Plains. Men are equally well catered for at Hall Street, where there is a huge collection from Gant.
Look out too for the traditional Ruse Butchers and the new Duck Deli.
Eating and drinking
The trickiest part of any visit to Long Melford is deciding where to eat. For afternoon tea, cakes, scones and the like, Tiffins Tea Emporium is a great find. The rarebit and ploughmans always prove popular, and they have an excellent selection of gluten-free meals and cakes.
For all-day dining there is the Long Melford Swan where you can pop by for brunch with a twist (tattie scones, Stornoway black pudding, haggis bon bons, poached egg), lunch and dinner. Everything is made from scratch on the premises using local and seasonal ingredients. The kitchen even smokes its own salmon.
You also can’t go far wrong with dinner at long-standing favourite bistro Scutchers, run by Nick and Diane Barrett.
Long Melford facts
Francis Bacon, the painter, was a frequent visitor to Long Melford in the 1970s, viewing the village as an ideal escape from the pressures of London. He stayed at Westgate House, where the Georgian property’s large walled garden is said to have played host to numerous parties, as Bacon enjoyed entertaining his friends from the East End.
Holy Trinity Church is one of the great Suffolk wool churches, built almost entirely in the 15th century when the village was dominated by prosperous local cloth merchants. It is rightly regarded as one of the most spectacular wool churches in England.
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