Orford is known as a foodie paradise in Suffolk and although it’s not the easiest place in the world to reach, when you’re there you won’t want to leave, and you might find yourself searching for an estate agent! It is the perfect place for a leisurely weekend break as it is far enough away from it all for relaxation, but with plenty on offer to keep you entertained and, most importantly, well fed.
There are also not one but two smokeries in Orford – both legendry. Richardson smokehouse, just off the market square, specialises in fish & cheese, and Pinneys specialises in Oysters. You’ll be spoilt for choice!
On Saturdays there’s a weekly food market in the town hall in the market square where locals sell their produce – you can buy delicious honey truffles, cakes, jams, vegetables, bread….
Also the local Inns – The Crown and Castlerun by the infamous Ruth Watson of Hotel Inspector fame, and the Kings Head Inn all offer fabulous local food so you won’t go hungry! See below for more details of these Inns and accommodation.
Recently opened is a new bakery that is taking Orford and surrounds by storm. The Pump St Bakery at No 1 Pump St, just off the market square, is a Grade 11 listed 17th C building that has been converted into a cafe and bakers shop. Chris Brennan, the owner and founder, realised that his bread and pastries were selling very well in Orford’s weekly Country Market so he set up the
bakery, and all of the bread and pastries sold in Pump Street Bakery are baked daily (I had a rhurbarb doughnut there recently and can highly recommend it!). Follow the delicious smells to find the bakery!
Click here for a review of Pump St Bakery in the FT Sept 2013
For those of you who like historical gems, St Bartholomew’s Church is a sight to behold. This Grade 1 listed 14th Century building, with 12th century remains attached, and is open daily to visitors.
Also, there is no finer example of English Heritage than Orford Castle (pictured below). Built between 1165 and 1173, the Castle’s central keep is all that remains yet this is still an impressive sight both up close and from a distance. The unique polygonal towerkeep of Orford Castle stands beside the pretty town and former port which Henry II developed here in the 1160s.
Orford Castle is open to visitors and is maintained by English Heritage in Suffolk. The circular interior has five floors and includes kitchens and a chapel. For a really stunning view climb up the 27 metre high tower. Visitor’s reaching the very top of the keep will be rewarded with breath-taking views of the village and surrounding countryside, including the River Ore and Orford Ness.
There is a shop onsite, as well as Orford Museum which features exhibits from Anglo-Saxon, Roman and earlier times, plus items associated with Orford’s mayor, and the lighthouses & airfield on Orford Ness.
Just off the Quay at Orford nature lovers will be delighted by Orford Ness National Nature Reserve – known as ‘The Island’ as it is Europe’s largest vegetated shingle spit. Fortunately it is protected for the nation by the National Trust in Suffolk. Visitors will discover a huge variety of rare species and habitats of coastal wildlife – including shingle, saltmarsh, mudflat, brackish lagoons and grazing marsh. The Reserve provides an important location for breeding and passage birds as well as for the coastal shingle flora and wildlife, including a large number of nationally rare species.
The Invisible Lighthouse
Local resident Thomas Dolby has produced an ‘impressionistic documentary’ covering the decommissioning & gradual destruction of the Orford Lighthouse which is now being left to the mercy of natural elements & will eventually collapse into the sea. View the trailer for his Invisible Lighthouse Tour in Sept & Oct 2013 by clicking on the link above.
From 1913 until the mid-1980s Orford Ness was used as a secret military test site and today visitors can walk amongst some of these unusual and intriguing test sites and buildings. The Ness is only accessible by ferry, and guided tours & walks are available to visitors, with a focus on subjects such as natural history, military history and general interest. There are also events held for children.
Find out more here – Orford Ness Nature reserve
Bird lovers will be drawn to Havergate Island bird sanctuary nearby, which is maintained by the RSPB and is a famous breeding ground for avocets and turns. There’s plenty of other wildlife thriving on this unspoilt island – find out more here RSPB Havergate Island.
The banks of the river Butley provide a perfect breeding ground for Gigas Pacific Oysters. They are harvested from the banks and you can buy them from the Butley Orford Oysterage. There is also a smokehouse alongside the river, selling all manner of local produce. Nearby is the Butley Oyster Restaurant where you can stop for some well earned refreshment & sample this unique local product!
Orford is just 5 miles from Snape Maltings Concert Hall, a converted malt house which is today home to Aldeburgh Music. Concerts of varying musical genres are performed year-round, with an emphasis on the work of Benjamin Britten who founded Aldeburgh Music, and should you find yourself in here during the summer, the Aldeburgh Festival is a musical experience not to be missed.
A first class Hotel & Restaurant in Orford is The Crown and Castle, owned by the legendry Ruth Watson (of Hotel Inspector fame, and author of several best selling cookery books) along with her husband David and business partner Tim Sunderland. Winners of the 2013 Good Hotel Guide César Award, this 21 bedroomed Hotel is more of a restaurant with rooms as food is the top theme. Relaxed and stylish, with comfortable rooms and top cuisine, the Crown and Castle is a great option for a ‘get away from it all’ break in the country.
What’s your favourite thing about Orford? Please send all comments and reviews to us at [email protected].