I know quite a bit about unsung heroes, living in Staffordshire, which is often overlooked in favour of Derbyshire, certainly where the Peak District is concerned. Suffolk is the only county in England I haven’t stepped foot in. It turns out that little East coast bump that holds Norfolk, also houses Suffolk, one the North half, one the South. It’s that simple, yet as a Midlander, I’ve consistently visited Norfolk.
When I asked around for recommendations, they were few but enticing – tales of breathtaking skies, castles, seaside, wonky medieval villages and Romans and Anglo Saxons.
Is Suffolk a hidden jewel of a county too?
I’m utterly smitten after exploring some gorgeous posts from my fellow family travel bloggers and I think you will be too. There’s been some vicious stuff in some (jealous and concerned about losing influence) broadsheets-that-should-know-better recently about influencers not influencing holiday decisions, well these posts are a lovely reminder of just how much blog posts can take you places and firmly implant a destination on your mind.
Suffolk has 50 miles of coastline from tourist resorts to arty beach towns to wilder nature reserves like Minsmere. It has some of the best preserved medieval villages, castles, places to run wild and wide open skies.
Constable County in Suffolk
Suffolk is Constable country, the painter was born here and painted his most famous works here. Of all the paintings by John Constable, perhaps the most best known is The Hay Wain, the setting of which is seen in a photo above. I bet you’ve seen it and will know the painting, the photograph alone gives me deja vu. It depicts a horse and cart crossing the River Stour, a white cottage visible on the left bank.
In Flatford you can still explore the white cottage, Flatford Mill and Bridge Cottage, which houses a John Constable exhibition. Visit Suffolk have ideas on finding more Constable Country.
If it’s history you are after, follow Cathy from Mummy Travels as she takes her daughter on a road trip through Suffolk. At Sutton Hoo they explored Anglo Saxon history at the final resting place of the King of the Wuffinga, Raedwald, King of East Anglia who ruled here in the 7th century. There’s is plenty of history for little ones to get hands on with, followed by burial mounds to explore.
Let Emma from A Bavarian Sojourn take you to Laveham, one of the best preserved Medieval Villages in the UK. Packed with over 300 listed buildings, many of them wonky, it is absolutely fascinating. The reason my kids will want to go, as Emma rightly points out, is that part of Harry Potter Deathly Hallows (1&2) was filmed here. Anything that convinces kids to wander round old towns is wonderful, and Emma has some great pointers on things to visit and spot.
Explore Nature In Suffolk
I love this post from Nell at Pigeon Pair And Me, all about the places to run wild and explore nature in Suffolk. High Lodge looks like a great bet.
Cerys from Rainy Day Mum also let me know about Minsmere RSPB reserve. This sounds like an exciting reserve to visit as it has so many different settings – a unique mix of coastal trail, Island Mere and woodland. I love that during her visit Cerys ‘saw Marsh Harriers (species with global concern), a Bittern (critically endangered) and Avocets (species with global concern).’ Do check out her post to pick up tips on making the most of a visit with kids.
Let Trish from Mum’s Gone To… take you on a tour of this arty seaside town. See Maggi Hambling’s sculpture, Scallop or join the Pebble Homage on Aldeburgh Beach, walk past pretty coloured houses, old fishing boats on the shingle, Trish’s post will also sort you out with the best places to get Fish and Chips and a gorgeous tearoom.
Bury St Edmunds and Ickworth House
‘One of those towns that England does rather well, steeped in history, full of lamp lit cobbled streets littered with half timbered buildings, lots of great places to eat.’ As Emma discovered, Bury St Edmunds is great to explore with or without the kids, but if you are planning a child-free romantic escape, Emma has done it in style and has some lovely tips over on Bavarian Sojourn.
‘4th Earl of Bristol, Frederick Hervey, who began building Ickworth House in 1795, following his eventful trip to Italy. He didn’t live to see his neo-classical design, with famous Rotunda, completed but his son continued the work and the building.’ As Trish explains in her account of visiting Ickworth the Herveys were characters and this National trust property tells some eyebrow raising tales of life above and below stairs.
Walberswick and Southwold
I loved reading Chloe’s account of a family holiday spent at Walberswick and Southwold on either side of the River Blythe. Walberswick is close to Minsmere reserve mentioned above, and just a short hop across the foot ferry and a 15 minute walk into Southwold. The beaches look vast and incredible and it feels like stepping back in time, her kids had so much fun on the beaches and Chloe’s pictures make me really crave some sunshine.
I had dismissed Felixstowe as a larger port town, but Cerys has a lovely Felixstowe guide which enticed me back with tales of beach combing workshops, beach hut hire, forts, crabbing, and a trip on a fun little foot ferry.
I couldn’t cover everything here and feel I have only dipped my toe in the water, you may also want to add Framlingham Castle and Jimmy’s Farm to your list.
Do you have any other Suffolk Gems? Please leave them in the comments for other’s to discover.
If you’re looking for accommodation for your adventure, Suffolk Country Cottages have a range of family and dog friendly places. Pearvain is in Constable Country or The Old Pottery is near Bury St Edmunds. Pantiles is a funky, very contemporary family friendly place sleeping 7 near Aldeburgh or Dart Cottage sleeps 4 and is 2 minutes from the beach in Aldeburgh.