Official Visitor Website

Explore the Heart of Suffolk


The main features of the heart of Suffolk, are the rolling countryside, meandering rivers, pretty towns and un-spoilt villages, among them Hadleigh, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Debenham and Sudbury.

vintage tractor at Museum of East Anglian Life

Vintage tractor at The Food Museum, formerly the Museum of East Anglian Life, in Stowmarket

Sudbury, which straddles the navigable River Stour, is where Thomas Gainsborough was born in 1727.  Here you can immerse yourself in his life and work whilst walking in his footsteps through Sudbury’s famous watermeadows.  The town 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.

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 Food Museum, formerly the Museum of East Anglian Life, a museum spread across 80 acres, 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 and pubs, 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.

cyclists in Debenham

Cyclists in Debenham (c) Lyndsay Want