A mecca for antiques enthusiasts owing to its excellent range of shops (and appearances in the Lovejoy television series), Long Melford also boasts the longest village high street in the country, a church of cathedral-like proportions, two historic mansions and an atmosphere that will have you planning your next visit before you’ve even departed…

It’s amazing to think that the peaceful village of Long Melford is only about 53 miles away from the hustle and bustle of London.
Admittedly, the high calibre boutiques, art galleries and restaurants to be found here have a sophisticated London-esque quality about them, but the reason so many city folk make for Long Melford is because it is the perfect tranquil antidote to the stresses and strains of metropolitan life.
Located in the heart of the lush Stour valley, opportunities for walking, cycling and wildlife-watching abound in the surrounding countryside. On clement days you can lunch by the river at the Rodbridge Picnic Site or embark on a three-mile valley walk to Sudbury, while rainy days promise cosy pub lunches in front of roaring log fires and a perfect excuse to seek shelter inside the village’s historic buildings.

If you are arriving by car, there is plenty of free parking available on Hall Street (Long Melford’s main north-south road) or you could try the green at the top of the village. Alternatively, plan a car free day by catching a train to Colchester or Sudbury followed by a pleasant bus ride into the village.

Lovers of history will be glad to learn that Long Melford is yet another Suffolk location with a fascinating past.

An Iron Age tribe known as the Belgae settled in the area; they were followed by the Romans – who left a number of dwellings here – and the Saxons.

At the time of the Domesday Book Long Melford was already quite a prosperous place and by 1235 it had gained its weekly market and annual fair. In subsequent centuries it became even richer by virtue of the woollen cloth trade and, like other Suffolk ‘wool’ towns and villages, its architecture serves as a wonderfully conserved reminder of this time.

Of particular note are its Hall Houses, magnificent timber-framed buildings constructed down both sides of the wide main street. There are at least 12 of these in the village centre, although later brick frontages disguise some.

Also renowned is Holy Trinity Church, a magnificent Suffolk ‘wool’ church of breathtaking proportions which stands on a hill at the north end of the village. The church was completed in 1484 (although its tower dates back to 1903) and contains a lot of mediaeval stained glass, including a Rabbit window symbolizing the Trinity.
What makes this church even more special is the fact that it hosts a superb programme of evening concerts and lunchtime recitals organised by the Long Melford Music Society.
Visit the website for further details.  Do not leave the church without visiting the Lady Chapel!
Incredibly for a village the size of Long Melford, there are two historic mansions to explore.

The romantic, turreted National Trust-owned Melford Hall, located near the green, is one of the East of England’s most celebrated Elizabethan houses. Lived in by the Hyde Parker family since 1786, the property has played host to many an illustrious visitor in its time – from Queen Elizabeth I to Beatrix Potter.

The Hall has a number of interesting exhibits including fine Chinese porcelain, 17th century Dutch paintings and a Beatrix Potter exhibition, as well as beautiful gardens and grounds which contain a 16th century banqueting house. Visit the website for further details.

Kentwell Hall, the village’s other mansion, has been home to a succession of families over the centuries but it owes its existence to the Clopton family, members of whom built the present building between around 1500 and 1550.

Today it is lived in by Patrick and Judith Phillips and their family, who opened the property to the public in 1976. Three years later the couple introduced the award-winning historic re-creations for which the Hall has become famous. Loved by adults and children alike, these include the Great Annual Re-Creation of Tudor Life, when visitors are transported from modern day to the 16th century via a time tunnel. Visit the website for further details.

Shopping & Eating

Long Melford has a well-deserved reputation for the quality of its antique shops – and more recently its art galleries as well.
In addition there are some excellent specialist boutiques in the village, making it a fantastic place to search out those unusual Christmas gifts. Home interiors and exclusive clothing/accessories are also well represented.
Food wise, there’s everything from fashionable restaurants to atmospheric pubs and good cafés. The Black Lion Hotel has an unrivalled position overlooking the green and offers an elegant restaurant and cosy bar and lounge areas. Scutchers on Westgate Street is another highly recommended food destination, as is Chimneys restaurant on Hall Street.

Annual Events

Another major part of Long Melford’s appeal is its sense of community and extensive programme of events (many free) which run throughout the year. There’s something for all ages and interests, with highlights including the annual summer ‘Music on the Green’, Christmas concerts and summer open-air performances at Kentwell, various events at Melford Hall, Long Melford Street Fair (during summer), The Big Night Out in November, not to mention farmers’ markets, art exhibitions, antiques fairs and more.