Long Melford is undoubtedly one of Suffolk’s most attractive villages. In fact, in a nationwide poll by Savills, the estate agent, it came 7th in Britain as one of the most desirable villages!
As its name implies, the village has a long, long High Street, populated by charming independent shops, vibrant art galleries, antique centres, cafes, restaurants, and, of course, typical Suffolk Inns. So, given all of this combined with beautiful architecture and amazing countryside, it is no wonder that this is such a desirable place.
However, traffic can be a bit slow moving at times!
A potted history
‘Melford’ is derived from ‘mill’ and ‘ford’, and ‘Long’ doesn’t need explaining to anyone who has attempted to walk the main street in Long Melford – all 2 ½ miles of it! The longest in England. There are many interesting sights in Long Melford, and it is well worth a visit in its own right. If you start at the top of the village, with Holy Trinity Church (see above and below), that’s the best place to begin. Like many in the area, Holy Trinity is a wool church of the late 15C. However, the tower is a later addition (1903). The Church is light and airy and contains several noteworthy memorials and brasses inside. Just outside the Church is the brick hospital, founded in 1573 for 12 poor men and two poor women.
There is also the Tudor mansion in Melford Hall.
Melford Hall (pictured below) is a large red brick Elizabethan house built around a quadrangle and ornamented with mitre-topped turrets. It is run by the National Trust, and they organise many events at the Hall throughout the year so take a look at what’s on there by clicking on the link above.
For more great National Trust sites in Suffolk, check out Lavenham Guildhall, Sutton Hoo, Dunwich Heath, and Orford Ness Nature Reserve. Or check out the Suffolk Tourist Guide’s further information on The National Trust in Suffolk.
At this end of Long Melford, from the Church sloping down along the Green, is a delightful row of houses, some small, some Georgian, some Queen Anne, all with little gardens in the front and no two alike.
It is well worth parking your car by the Church and walking down the Green past this row, past (or through!) The Black Lion and along by the old School house where there are frequent Book fairs and Antique Shows, and into the village. However, the walk back to the car up the hill is another matter…!
When coming into the main part of the village from the northwest (ie Church end), you’ll see The Bull Inn on the left.
This was built in 1450 and has a fascinating history, including playing host to John Lennon in the ’60s for a spell. Ambling along the lovely main street, you’ll pass numerous antique shops, art galleries and pubs, several boutiques, restaurants and cafes.
Opposite The Bull, be sure to look out for the Long Melford Heritage Centre, which is situated at the rear of the Village Hall in Chemists Lane. Opened in 2011 following the filming of the “Great British Story” with presenters Michael Wood and Dr Carenza Lewis, the associated community Big Dig revealed many artefacts from Long Melford’s Roman and Medieval past. The programme inspired 2 local amateur archaeologists, John Nunn & Rob Simpson, to set up the Heritage Centre, and since then, a willing band of volunteers run the Centre.
From April until November, the Centre is open on Saturdays 10 am – 4 pm, Sundays 12 – 4 pm and Wednesday afternoons 2 – 4 pm; admission is free. In 2014 the “Long Melford Sword” (pictured above right) will be on display for the first time. This is a 2nd-century Roman military Spatha sword discovered some years ago in Hall Street, along with a replica of the sword as it would have originally looked. Also, for 2014 will be a photographic and artefact display of Long Melford’s WW1 servicemen and women to commemorate the Centenary of the start of that war. Many more photographic and artefact displays of bygone Long Melford will also be on view, so pop in and see how the Village used to look in days gone by.
One of the attractions of Long Melford today is its thriving and growing hub of Art Galleries. In the past, the village was known as an antique centre, and it still has several antique shops, but now the village has a reputation for being the place in Suffolk to go to see and buy works of art.
There are several world-class Art Galleries in Long Melford, and they all offer better value for money than in London, so come and visit them soon!
Two examples worth looking out for are The Jessica Muir Gallery and the Lime Tree Gallery, both on the main road through the village.
Long Melford has a vibrant local community, and every year they organise a street fair in July. It’s always great fun, and you can have a go at line dancing as well as all the other traditional Village Fete games –
Did you know that Francis Bacon was a frequent visitor to Long Melford in the 1970s? His lover’s brother, David Edwards, owned Westgate House, which was an ideal escape for Bacon from the pressures of London. This lovely Georgian house has a large walled garden which played host to riotous parties, as Bacon enjoyed entertaining his friends from the East End. See if you can spot the Long Melford influence in Bacon’s work!
After all this sightseeing, you’ll need some recuperation time over a nice beer or tea, so head for The Swan Long Melford for a light bite or full meal in this stylish brasserie with outside seating.
Another great eating-out option comes from Cafe Marsala, Long Melford. This top Indian restaurant offers the very best in authentic cuisine from the vast menu at very reasonable prices and has a Family Buffet every Sunday.
And then you’ll need some retail therapy, and Long Melford really comes into its own with Ladies’ fashions. There are several lovely boutiques in Long Melford, and you’re unlikely to leave the village empty-handed!
If you’ve still got some energy after the long walk along the long high street, then turn off the main street and head for the water meadows about 1/2 mile away. If it’s been raining, then the water meadows are likely to be seriously waterlogged, which is great fun if you’ve got some wellies and a water-loving dog!
Long Melford is one of Suffolk’s many gems. It has lots to offer the visitor, from historic buildings to contemporary fashions, and the food available throughout the Village – from the butchers to the restaurants and pubs – will keep you sustained throughout your stay.
As the Village is situated between Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds, and Lavenham is just a 10-minute drive away, Long Melford is also a fabulous base to explore the surrounding area. The Long Melford B&B; was a former Inn and now offers plenty of good accommodation for your stay – so take a look at what’s on offer and book your stay in Long Melford now! For other Long Melford Accommodation just click on this link
Please see Visit Long Melford, the village’s own website, for more information on this lovely village.
How did your visit to Long Melford compare? Let us know what you think by emailing [email protected].