Want to spy out a Suffolk village full of charming buildings and interesting history? Try this one for size.
Walsham Le Willows lies a few miles away from Bury St Edmunds, between Ixworth and Finningham.
It’s a large village and encompasses an estate that was owned by a former partner of the Whitbread Brewery.
Richard Martineau made the purchase in the mid 1800s. It was his family line which is alleged to have made big differences to the community – creating homes and livelihoods for local people.There are a number of features around the village today, which have all been provided by the Martineau family.
For example, you’ll still see the school that was created by them for the children of the estate workers.
Various artefacts have been found in the village which date it right back to a Roman settlement.
The first real written evidence comes in the 11th Century.At this time, the village is referred to as Walsham, and there are references to several manors on the land.
The name took on ‘le Willows’ much later.
It seems the village has always had a thriving and industrious community.
A directory of Suffolk in the 1800s refers to it having a number of shops and workplaces, with tradesmen covering the fields of thatching, baking, and gun-making to name a few.
If you enjoy looking at period buildings, you’re in for a treat.
Plenty of listed buildings still remain in the village of Walsham Le Willows, including the mock Jacobean cottages which were buit by John Martineau for the estate workers.
The church, St Mary’s, was built in the 15th century and stands on the site of where a Norman church originally stood.
There’s also The Priory Room. This was opened in 1902 and was another feature granted to the community by the Martineau family.
Although it once had many shops to serve its community, Walsham Le Willows now has just two shops, but also a couple of popular pubs worthy of a visit.
Lesser known about the village is that it houses the Vajrasana Retreat Centre.
This is located at Potash Farm in the village, and is the retreat centre for the London Buddhist Centre.