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…
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.
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.
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!
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
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.