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Explore the Heart of Suffolk

At the heart of Suffolk, amid rolling countryside and meandering rivers is a clutch of pretty towns and un-spoilt villages, among them Hadleigh, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Debenham and Sudbury. Their peaceful pace of life makes these Suffolk towns and villages ideal places to unwind and watch the world go by.

Watching the world go by is easy in Sudbury, which straddles the navigable River Stour. There can immerse yourself in the life and work of Thomas Gainsborough, born in Sudbury in 1727, and tread in his footsteps through Sudbury’s famous watermeadows. Sudbury is also the UK’s Capital of Silk, a heritage industry that still survives today and contributes to Sudbury’s historic architecture.

Hadleigh is a charming Suffolk Wool Town that bears all the hallmarks of medieval wealth, including half-timbered merchants’ houses, and a fine 15th century Guildhall. Hadleigh has 246 historic listed buildings in total, including a magnificent medieval church, and the pink-painted cottages that are synonymous with Suffolk.

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North of Hadleigh is Stowmarket, an ancient town on the River Gipping. A wonderful starting point for river walks, Stowmarket is also home to the Museum of East Anglian Life, a museum spread across 80 acres of farmland full of exhibits from Suffolk’s agricultural past. Another must-visit in Stowmarket is the John Peel Centre, a creative arts hub founded in honour of the late radio DJ.

Nearby Needham Market is a picturesque small town perfect for walkers and cyclists, with many local shops, pubs and restaurants, and a beautiful lake. No visit to Needham Market is complete without stepping inside its church, which boasts one of the finest double-hammerbeam roofs in the country.

To the east of Stowmarket and Needham Market is Debenham. Like many places in the heart of Suffolk, Debenham grew wealthy due to the medieval wool trade, and is full of 14th century merchants’ houses. Rows of independent shops, restaurants and pubs add to Debenham’s unspoilt charm, as do the swathes of gorgeous surrounding farmland.

Use the tabs on this page to find out more about the towns and villages in the Heart of Suffolk, and start planning your perfect trip.

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