In the early summer of 2018 we visited the beautiful Suffolk town of Hadleigh. The SuffolkChurches website says “the heart of the town is still probably the loveliest of any in East Anglia,” and we would certainly agree with the description. It’s known as a Wool Town, as it became very wealthy from the production of woollen cloth in the Medieval period, and many of it’s buildings date from that period. We had a lovely afternoon exploring the town centre, which is full if independent shops and tearooms. As well as timber framed buildings from the Medieval and Tudor periods, there were many other attractive buildings to admire, which help to tell the towns story. On our walk we discovered a second-hand bookshop and a proper old fashioned haberdashers selling material, reals of cotton, balls of wool and all things crafty.
At the centre of the town is the parish church of St. Marys. This is one of the Suffolk wool churches, built from the profits of the Suffolk wool trade, when the rich merchants wanted to thank God for their wealth – and also show it off to the friends and neighbours. Opposite the church is the Grade 1 listed Guildhall which has been run by the Hadleigh Market Feoffment Charity since 1438. Next to the church is the Deanery Tower, which was the gateway of the now demolished Medieval Deanery
There are many beautiful rivers in Suffolk, including the River Stour which runs through the Dedham Vale an the River Lark in Bury St. Edmunds. Hadleigh has the River Brett running through it, and on our visit we took the opportunity to walk along its riverside path. We crossed an old pack-horse bridge, having made sure that the geese and chickens in the small holding beside it couldn’t catch us, and then followed the path to the top of the town.
We ended up back on the High Street where we had a cup of tea and a cake before making our way home through the back roads of Suffolk. This was our first visit in about 20 years, and we’d forgotten just how lovely Hadleigh is. We won’t be leaving it as long before we go back again.