Why Long Melford is Britain’s seventh most desirable village

PUBLISHED: 11:21 04 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:26 04 June 2020

Visit Melford Hall from April to October every year    Picture: G. Mills

Visit Melford Hall from April to October every year Picture: G. Mills

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The historic village with what’s reputed to be the longest high street in the country and surrounded by beautiful countryside, is a great place to live

This article was written prior to lockdown and all information should be checked before your visit.

Don’t take our word for it

Long Melford is without doubt one of Suffolk’s most attractive places to live. In a nationwide poll by estate agent Savills it came seventh as one of Britain’s most desirable villages.

As its name implies, the village has a very long high street– actually called Hall Street as it leads practically to and from Melford Hall – populated by independent shops, art galleries, a great antiques centre, excellent cafes, restaurants, pubs and inns.

For people hoping to make it their home, the village offers a range of property from very old historic houses and cottages to contemporary family homes, all within easy access to local amenities and superb countryside.

A bit of history

It’s impossible to live in Long Melford without being aware of its very special place in local history. The name Melford is derived from ‘mill’ and ‘ford’, and ‘Long’ refers to the 2.5-miles high street, which is claimed to be the longest in England.

John Nunn with Iron Age pots that have been donated to the Long Melford Heritage Centre. Picture: GREGG BROWNJohn Nunn with Iron Age pots that have been donated to the Long Melford Heritage Centre. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Long Melford is one of Suffolk’s Wool Towns which became wealthy in the Middle Ages as a result of East Anglia’s booming wool and cloth industry.

The result is some superb buildings including the late 15th century Holy Trinity Church and the brick hospital, founded in 1573 for 12 poor men and two poor women.

The village’s grandest homes are its two Tudor mansions. Kentwell Hall, one of England’s finest Tudor houses, developed between approx 1500 and 1578, has been rescued and refurbished as a much loved family home and traditional style farm with rare breeds.

It stages special events throughout the year, including historic recreations and open farm days.

Melford Hall is a large red brick Elizabethan house, built around a quadrangle and decorated with mitre-topped turrets. It is run by the National Trust which organises events throughout the year.

A good place to find out more about the village’s past is Long Melford Heritage Centre, at the rear of the village hall in Chemists Lane.

Thousands flock to the annual Long Melford Street Fair on Sunday.

PICTURE ANDY ABBOTTThousands flock to the annual Long Melford Street Fair on Sunday. PICTURE ANDY ABBOTT

It was opened in 2011 following the filming of the Great British Story with presenters Michael Wood and Dr Carenza Lewis.

A community Big Dig associated with the programme revealed many artefacts from Long Melford’s Roman and Medieval past and inspired two local amateur archaeologists, John Nunn and Rob Simpson, to set up the Heritage Centre, now run by volunteers.

Village life

Long Melford has always been known as a good place to browse and buy antiques and collectables. It still has antique shops, but the village is increasingly regarded as the place in Suffolk to go to see and buy art.

It has some excellent galleries selling work by local and nationally known artists, such as Jessica Muir, Lime Tree Gallery, Famous Old House Gallery, Imagine Gallery, and Douglas Payne Studio and Gallery.

In fact Long Melford has always been an arty place. Francis Bacon was a frequent visitor in the 1970s when his lover’s brother, David Edwards, owned the Georgian Westgate House. For Bacon it was a bolthole to escape the pressures of life in London.

Long Melford today is a vibrant community. Every year locals organise a street fair in July with stalls and traditional games.

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From June to August Melford Music holds lunchtime recitals in Holy Trinity Church, while for more than a decade Long Melford Open Gardens on the last May Bank Holiday, has raised money for the church, with courtyard gardens to country houses welcoming visitors.

Eating out

Opportunities to eat out locally are increasingly part of home-hunters’ decisions about where to live.

Long Melford offers plenty of choice from tea rooms and cafes, such the Melford Tea Rooms, the Olive Tree Tea Room and Tiffin’s Tea and Coffee House.

Pubs and inns include The Black Lion Hotel, The Bull Hotel, The George and Dragon, The Hare Inn, Cafe Marsala, The Cock & Bell, Gigi’s Trattoria and The Swan Inn.

Location, location

Long Melford is situated between Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds, in south west Suffolk, on the edge of Constable Country and the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Long Melford Church 2

This is a beautiful part of the county with undulating countryside, the wonderful River Stour Valley and the river running through it. Historic Lavenham is just a 10-minute drive away and there are lots of other pretty villages, such as Cavendish, to get to know.

There are excellent public footpaths that enable you to get out and about and enjoy a healthy lifestyle exploring the countryside.

If education is a consideration there are well regarded schools in Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury and Ipswich. There are also further and higher education opportunities at University of Suffolk in Ipswich and West Suffolk College at Bury St Edmunds.

For commuters, there are mainline trains to London Liverpool Street from Ipswich and Colchester, and connections from Sudbury.

Take a look

Visit the village and see it for yourself. Long Melford is on the B1064 – take the A131 then the A134 from Sudbury or the A134 from Bury St Edmunds.

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