Home   Bury St Edmunds   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Five Suffolk hidden gems to visit this spring with locations in Bury St Edmunds, Aldeburgh and Polstead



More news, no ads

LEARN MORE


Suffolk is full of stunning countryside, picturesque towns and villages and rich historical landmarks.

However, many of the most interesting and quirky locations in the county remain fairly hidden to residents and visitors alike.

If you're looking to take a trip off the beaten track this spring and learn about Suffolk's hidden history, here's five of the county's lesser-known gems to visit.

The Ickworth Monument is found in the ground of the National Trust site
The Ickworth Monument is found in the ground of the National Trust site

Ickworth Monument

The Ickworth Monument is located on one of the National Trust trails at the southern end of the Ickworth House park.

It was erected in 1817 as a memorial to Frederick Hervey, the 4th Earl of Bristol, who started building Ickworth House in 1795 and died in Italy in 1803 before the building was finished.

The monument was erected in 1817 as a memorial to Frederick Hervey, the 4th Earl of Bristol
The monument was erected in 1817 as a memorial to Frederick Hervey, the 4th Earl of Bristol

Ickworth House fell to his son, the 5th Earl of Bristol, and was finished in 1829.

The limestone monument is 95 feet high and is located in Monument Meadow, the highest point in the estate and second highest in Suffolk.

The 9km circular trail to the monument takes visitors on a scenic route including Parson's pond, Albana Wood, the walled garden, canal lake and family church and is described as suitable for active families.

Slaughden

Slaughden was lost to sea in the very early 20th century
Slaughden was lost to sea in the very early 20th century

The village of Slaughden, or what remains of it, is found just south of Aldeburgh and has an incredibly interesting history.

The coastal location was washed away in the early 20th century, leaving only a sea wall and shingle bank as a reminder of what once was.

The last surviving Martello Tower of clover design also stands at this part of the Suffolk coastline. It is now used as holiday apartments and has stunning views from towards Orford Ness and Aldeburgh.

Slaughden is rich in history. Five ships sailed from the village to fight the Spanish Armarda and Benjamin Britten's 1945 opera 'Peter Grimes' is based on a poem written by local poet George Crabbe.

Today it is home to two yacht clubs and a boatyard and is a great place for a coastal walk.

Bury St Edmunds Guildhall

Bury St Edmunds Guildhall in Guildhall Street is the country's oldest used civic building.

Bury St Edmunds Guildhall, the country's oldest continually used civic building
Bury St Edmunds Guildhall, the country's oldest continually used civic building

With a history spanning over 800 years and the earliest mention of the building dating back to 1279, the Guildhall is home to the only surviving Royal Observer Corps WWII operations room in the country.

The perfect place to learn about the history of the area, with tours and events running on a weekly basis, the Guildhall is popular with residents and tourists alike.

Orford Ness

The Orford Ness National Trust reserve is full of history, particularly the many abandoned buildings that are scattered around the walking routes.

It is believed that man first used the spit to gather food, such as eggs and fish, and to graze cattle.

The coastal location saw defensive construction undertaken during the naval wars and threat from Napoleon but cattle and sheep continued to graze.

In more recent years, Orford Ness was used as a military test site and was closely guarded from 1913, preventing public access.

Throughout both World Wars, top secret experiments were carried out at Orford Ness, including ballistics testing, experimental radio beacons and the birth of radar.

At the height of the Cold War, Orford Ness was used for development work on the atomic bomb and from the 1970s the Ness was home to RAF Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) with large quantities of munitions being destroyed on the site.

In 1993, the site was sold to the National Trust and visitors come to learn of the coast's rich history and wildlife.

Red Barn Murder Walk in Polstead

This four-mile walk in the Suffolk village of Polstead, close to Sudbury, follows the story of the Red Barn Murder, which took place in 1827.

William Corder, the son of a tenant farmer, and Maria Marten, the daughter of the village mole catcher, were having an affair and would meet each night in the Red Barn.

Maria became pregnant, although she lost the baby after just a few weeks, and her parents demanded the pair were married.

Marten's Lane, Polstead, where Maria lived. Picture: Google maps
Marten's Lane, Polstead, where Maria lived. Picture: Google maps

William then arranged for Maria to meet him at the barn dressed in man's clothing so they could escape and elope to Ipswich but when Maria entered the barn, she never came out.

A year later, after Maria's stepmother Anne dreamed that Maria had been murdered in the Red Barn, her body was discovered under the floorboards. She had been shot, stabbed and strangled.

Her lover was arrested and charged with murder. He claimed he was innocent but was found guilty and hanged in Bury St Edmunds in August 1828.

The murder walk takes visitors around several locations in the story, including the homes of both William and Maria and the church where Maria was buried.

Which of these hidden gems will you visit this spring?