Our favourite Suffolk villages: Long Melford
PUBLISHED: 17:15 23 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:24 20 February 2013
Richard Bryson on why he thinks this west Suffolk village is so special
Richard Bryson on what makes this pretty west Suffolk village so special
So called because it is basically one long, lean, three mile settlement Melford (as the locals call it) is a busy working village rather than a sleepy dormitory. The Bury St Edmunds end of the village is the prettiest as it opens out on to a green surrounded by attractive houses, a simply majestic church (Holy Trinity) and Long Melford Hall. And not too far from the green is Kentwell Hall, known for its lovely grounds and medieval re-enactments.
The Sudbury end may not be so eye-catching but was lifted by the conversion of an old maltings into flats and terraced housing. At about the same time a nearby pub suddenly became a trendy wine bar called The Percy, as even this quiet Suffolk backwater seemed to embrace the yuppie culture of the late eighties.
Between these two points there is the main street full of antiques and art galleries, boutiques, books and gift shops, traditional butchers and a caf and tearoom. It can match the upmarket feel of Norfolks Burnham Market but because of the mix of businesses it can seem a little friendlier, and a little less snooty to the average visitor.
Perhaps less well known are the interesting walks to be enjoyed on the edge of the village. You can stroll off towards Liston and Foxearth or visit Rodbridge Pits, an area of gravel pits and woodland bordered by the River Stour. Borley Rectory is a mile or two up the road and there is some lovely meadowland in the vicinity, perhaps best enjoyed from the vantage point of the old railwayline that used to run between Sudbury and the village.
One glorious summers day (and before the bypass was built), I walked from Long Melfords garden centre to Lavenham and was surprised by the undulating landscape, copses and streams along the route. Perhaps this footpath still exists. While I forget the year I do know when we got home Englands so called tortoise of a Test batsman Chris Tavare (then playing for Somerset) was carting the bowling to all corners in a limited overs match on terrestrial televison.
Indeed the village has thriving cricket and football clubs but tucked away from the main street so that you cant catch a game while driving by.
Melford might just be one of the best villages in the county for eating out. Restaurants come and go in the main street and there are some good pubs for a pint and not too expensive lunches but on, or near, the green it has Scutchers, which we never tire of praising, and the Black Lion Hotel both high quality establishments and well worth a visit.