“Suffolk has dozens of beautiful villages, … but none matches Kersey for sheer eye-catching perfection.”
Crooked houses washed in apricot and cream, pink and burnt orange, line Kersey’s single village street that slopes from the high-perched church to the water splash in the valley bottom. Suffolk has dozens of beautiful villages, enriched through medieval wool wealth and dignified through age, but none matches Kersey for sheer eye-catching perfection.
The Times, 23 July 2016.
Widely regarded as the most picturesque village in the East of England, Kersey is in the heart of Suffolk’s rolling countryside. Here’s our list of the Top 7 reasons why you should visit Kersey this summer.
1.The beautiful walks
Interchangeable with the beautiful scenery. Kersey and its surrounding countryside is breathtaking. And what better way to experience this beautiful environment than to take to the many footpaths and pretty walks that pass through the area.
2. Its fascinating history
Kersey was first mentioned in an Anglo-Saxon will of about 900 AD. It was a thriving community at the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066, and the village’s inhabitants and their farming activities were mentioned in the The Domesday Book of 1086. By calculation the population then would have been about 150.
From the 12th century Kersey grew significantly and enjoyed considerable prosperity. The Lord of the Manor of Kersey was granted the right to hold a weekly market in 1252 and early in the 14th century, the church, already rebuilt since the 11th century, was further enlarged.
Clothmaking was well established by the beginning of the 14th century in nearby towns such as Hadleigh and Sudbury and there are indications that Kersey might also have been involved, although the association of its name with Kersey cloth is not supported by historical evidence.
The cloth, which was used for garments made for the yeomen, tradesmen and later army uniforms, was exported from Kersey up until the 19th century.
The village lost a large proportion of its population in 1346, due to the Black Death. The village recovered during the 15th century, but the Priory, which had been in financial difficulties for many years, went into decline and was dissolved in 1444. Its lands passed to King’s College, Cambridge which also took over the responsibility for appointing the parish priest, a right which was not relinquished until the 1920s. The college sold its lands in 1930.
When the centre of the woollen industry moved north to Yorkshire in the 17th century, Kersey became almost entirely dependent on agriculture and its population and prosperity rose and fell in line with that industry.
The changes in village life over the past 150 years have been particularly marked. In 1844, the population of 787 supported three shoemakers, two tailors, two blacksmiths, two corn millers, a grocer and draper, a baker, a saddler, a wheelwright, a brewer and several bricklayers and carpenters, as well as two public houses. In 1992 there were two public houses, one general store and a sub-post office. However, by 2009 there was only one public house and neither a village shop nor a post office.
Universal free education reached Kersey with the opening of the village school in 1873, but it was not until the 1950s that the village enjoyed the material comforts of mains electricity, running water and drainage.
3. The Architecture
The picturesque village of Kersey dates back to medieval times. Take away the few cars that occasionally park on the main street and you’d be forgiven for thinking you had slipped 500 years back in time.
There is scarcely a building without character, from the timber framed Bell Inn to the River House looking over the ford, with its massive Elizabethan door.
The 14th century parish church tower overlooks the village from the top of the southerly hill. Turn down the road into the village centre and you will pass between two rows of old houses and buildings, some strikingly gabled in black and white, and many of which date from the Elizabethan times.
4. Kersey Mill
Located on the site of an old Stone Mill, The Mill is a place of recreation, with tea rooms such as Little Treats, crafts, such as Glass & Craft, shopping venues such as The Revival Exchange, and health and beauty services. A beautiful, natural environment to unwind in.
5. The Bell Inn
Dating back to the 14th Century, The Bell Inn is Kersey’s local pub. A lovely example of Kersey’s period buildings, the inn is lined with old oak beams and flagstone floors.
The family-run establishment has a varied and delicious menu, featuring traditional, locally sourced, homemade food, including pies, beer battered fish and chips, steak and kidney pudding, and sausage and mash. Also, watch out for the resident ghost!
6. The Wildlife
Calling all keen birdwatchers: Kersey not only provides the prettiest, countryside walks, but you can also spot a variety of birds, animals and insects. Bring your binoculars, or why not enrol yourself in one of the Photography Courses, based at Kersey Mill.
7. The ‘Splash’
The Ford, locally known as the ‘Splash’, is found in the centre of the village, crossing the main street. It might look like a large puddle at some points in the year; this is actually a tributary of the River Brett.
For pedestrians, there is a small bridge allowing you to cross without having to fish out the wellies!
Come and stay at Priory Holme, a postcard perfect, traditional thatched cottage perched on top of the hill overlooking the picturesque village.