12 Hours in Woodbridge, Suffolk

Another of my trips as things were opening up here in the UK was to visit the market town of Woodbridge, in Suffolk. Woodbridge is a special place to me as it’s where my Granny and Grandpa lived as I was growing up and we used to visit during school holidays and for Christmases regularly. I wanted to re-trace my childhood steps and discover more of the area on a visit.

Woodbridge is a great day trip, or one night stay destination. If you have longer in Suffolk, then you could also combine it with any of the following to make a long weekend (or even week long) break:


History of Woodbridge

Woodbridge is an historic market town, and lies on the River Deben. The area was occupied by the Romans for 300 years after Queen Boudica’s failed rebellion in 59 CE, and after the Romans left substantial Anglo-Saxon settlement ensued. The Angles gave their name to East Anglia (the region made up of the counties of Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire in the East of England).

The town has various buildings from Tudor, Georgian and Victorian times and also has a tide mill in working order – one of only two left in the country. Woodbridge also has two windmills – Buttrum’s and Tricker’s, and is also home to RAF Woodbridge which was used during the Cold War by the US Air Force as the base for Tactical Fighter Squadrons until 1993.


Things to do in Woodbridge

1. Woodbridge Waterfront & Tide Mill

The waterfront has been a bustling place since the 1400s, with the area initially a thriving ship building centre. Merchant and naval ships were built here, including for Edward III and Sir Francis Drake! The quay allowed the town to prosper and local trade in cloth and rope helped build the town’s riches. Today the waterfront has a number of cafes, a nice maritime museum and some good walking paths so it’s worth dedicating an hour or so to.

At the waterfront

Also at the waterfront is the Tide Mill, and there has been one on this site for over 800 years. It’s a fascinating contraption as when the tide rises, the water gets trapped in a large pool which is then released to turn the machinery and produce grain. Amazing! You can now visit inside the Mill to see it working.

2. Market Hill

The Market Hill is a stunning collection of old buildings, with the Shire Hall built in the 1500s at the centre. Also nearby is the wonderful St Mary’s Church (where my Grandpa used to be vicar), and a number of nice pubs and restaurants perfect for a spot of breakfast or cake.

3. Sutton Hoo

Now made famous by the film The Dig, Sutton Hoo is where the richest ever treasures were found on British soil. In 1939, Edith Pretty excavated some of the mounds on her estate- and it uncovered the burial site of an Anglo Saxon King! The most likely candidate is King Raedwald of East Anglia, the most powerful King in England in the 600s and who died in around 624 CE.

The visitor centre is amazing and you can see some of the treasures recovered. There are also lots of walking trails around the burial mounds and a lovely shop to browse as well.

4. Seckford Hall

Seckford Hall is a Tudor period house just outside of Woodbridge. It was the family home of Thomas Seckford who founded many local almshouses and schools (and is buried in St Mary’s church, mentioned above). Enid Blyton even visited here in 1915 and found inspiration for her books.

The Hall is now a hotel, where you can choose to have a very special stay. Or just visit for a lunch, dinner or afternoon tea and discover the beautiful grounds. We chose to stay here for the night and the rooms were comfortable and full of character.

At Seckford Hall

5. Take a trip to Framlingham

Framlingham is a lovely market town, about a 30 minute drive away from Woodbridge, and is another spot where my grandpa was vicar (and he still lives there). The town’s biggest attraction is the incredible castle. Initially built in the Norman era, it was destroyed by Henry II to squash a rebellion against him, but rebuilt by Roger Bigod in the late 1100s. Interestingly, it wasn’t built as a royal castle, but instead has been a family home.

It played a significant role during the Wars of the Roses as home of the Howard family – Thomas Howard was attainted in 1547 for his part in supporting the claim of Mary Tudor to the throne, however Henry VIII died the day before Thomas was due to be executed at the Tower, and his successor, Mary’s half-brother Edward VI spared him, though gave Framlingham to Mary. When Mary seized power in 1553 she collected her forces at Framlingham Castle before successfully marching on London. Thomas was released from the Tower by Mary as a reward for his loyalty but eventually Elizabeth I seized the throne, and the last of the next Thomas Howard was executed for treason in 1572 the castle passed to the Crown.

After the collapse of the Howard’s power, in the 1600s the castle became a work house and the chapel was destroyed. It was then used as an isolation unit during the Plague, became a prison and was used as an armoury during the Napoleonic Wars. Eventually it was passed to English Heritage, who maintain the site for the public to visit.


If you’re in Woodbridge for a day, or with an overnight stay, then I recommend starting the day in Woodbridge itself and covering the waterfront and market hill with a big breakfast or brunch along the way. Then head on to Sutton Hoo for a couple of hours, before heading to Seckford Hall for a 3pm afternoon tea. Finish the day in Framlingham by exploring the castle and indulging in dinner before heading home or back to your hotel.

What do you think of Woodbridge and Framlingham? Would you like to visit? I hope I’ve managed to show you another lovely part of England which might inspire you to visit one day. Stay safe and happy travelling!

23 Comments

  1. When I make it to England, Iโ€™ll have your posts in hand as my guide ๐Ÿ™‚ This looks like such a picturesque place to stay and the history was really interesting to read about. I havenโ€™t watched The Dig, but I have heard that is a great show. How incredible to have such a wealth of treasures on your property, laying in wait to be discovered for hundreds of years!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww that is such a nice thing to say, and I’m so glad you like them ๐Ÿ™‚ For such a small country, we have a lot of nice things to do round every corner. I hope you get to visit us soon! Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you like it Lyssy! You’re right, we are so blessed with these ancient castles dating back over a thousand years now – when you next come to the UK I’ll have to send you on a tour of them all!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another charming place in England to explore! Iโ€™m especially drawn to Seckford Hall, particularly for that delicious-looking afternoon tea. The Woodbridge Waterfront would also be a wonderfully-tranquil spot to relax and enjoy a drink. Thanks for taking us on another of your jaunts in your home country!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for reading – I’ve enjoyed sharing all my England trips this year on the blog, but am hoping to mix it up next year with some European travel. It’s so hard though to make the call on when to go – technically we could now but I’m still not entirely comfortable. I guess I’ll just go when it feels right. Have a great weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree with you: even if appears that itโ€™s okay to travel internationally, I personally will not be comfortable going overseas until at least mid to late 2022!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yet another wonderful place to explore, especially Seckford Hall. Staying a night or two on the beautiful grounds would be an amazing experience for sure. Thanks for sharing, I am glad to see that you finally had a chance to visit a place where your Granny and Grandpa once lived, it must have been an emotional visit ๐Ÿ™‚ Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading Aiva, and yes it was an emotional visit. I went back to what was their house and a lady was walking out of it, and I peered through the windows and it had all been done up. I lost my granny last year and I could picture her in the kitchen cooking, or walking in and out of the door. It’s weird the only thing separating me from those moments was time – but it felt nice to go back. Seckford Hall, and Suffolk in general, is just so beautiful – well worth a visit if you ever get the chance ๐Ÿ™‚ Have a great weekend Aiva xx

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow Han, what a delightful and unexpected surprise. I spent three summers living and teaching English at Woodbridge School between 2005-2007. As your post shows, it’s a charming little town. Sutton Hoo is a must see in the area, glad you’ve also done that. Frankly, I would also go back just to relive past days. Oh, and check out Seckford Hall, which looks lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow that’s such a small world! It really is a lovely town with lots of great things nearby; I really love Suffolk and am glad you got to spend so much time there. Have a great weekend and thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I just mapped it. At 3 hours away by car, it’s probably a bit far for our upcoming trip, but it’s an interesting idea for a future trip. Looks like a great area. Oh, those Howards. They got into all sorts of mischief for the sake of power, favor, and influence, didn’t they. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh it’s just out of reach for a quick day trip, but maybe one day ๐Ÿ™‚ there’s loads to do in Suffolk in Woodbridge and on the coast (Southwold, Aldeburgh etc), plus you can go to Bury St Edmunds, Lavenham (home to all the famous ancient houses) and Ickworth House as well. You could easily spend a weekend in the area with so much to do there. Oh those Howards indeed, they changed allegiance more often than I change my socks!!! Thanks for reading and have a great weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Woodbridge looks like an amazing place of fond childhood memories, as well as a very early historical site. The waterfront, market, church, Sutton Hooโ€ฆand that mask and shield are splendid discoveries from antiquity! I just love all the historical architectureโ€ฆthank you for sharing, dear Hannah & have a wonderful week ahead ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a wonderful stroll through a beautiful place! I would definitely choose Seckford Hall as my choice of accommodation โ€“ looks really lovely! And those treasures โ€“ that must have been a great find!

    Like

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