Town-Hopping in East Anglia

Suffolk County We did not rest after Sutton Hoo, oh no. We next went to nearby Woodbridge, well-known for its boating harbor and tide mill, on the edge of the Suffolk Coast. Several festivals are held are held there every year, and we saw none of them. But it was good to know we were puttering around a town described as a “gem in Suffolk’s crown”, which has been named the best place to live in the East of England. So there.

It seems a nice little place, but we didn’t really stay long enough to see its gem-like qualities. I did manage to get an excellent potato and leek soup there, so points for culinary arts to Woodbridge.

Our main destination in the town was 15th century St. Mary’s Church. It seems to be the heart of Woodbridge, despite the many changes it has experienced over 700 years.

We caught an afternoon train to our next destination: Bury St. Edmunds. It was dark and stormy when we arrived, so we weren’t able to grasp the charm of the town till this morning, when we woke up in our luxurious B&B to see a snow squall. The weather has been quite varied this trip. We are back to hats and gloves.

Bury St Edmunds is a historic market and cathedral town and at one point it was the major English pilgrimage site, before St. George and his dragon came along and replaced poor St. Edmund as the patron saint of England. He was an East Anglian king slain by the Danes in 869.

After the Reformation, St. Edmund also suffered the indignity of having his tomb and remains “lost,” so all that is left is this magnificent 16th cathedral.

We also visited St. Mary’s, a lovely church that is the largest parish church in England. It has the distinction of being the humble final resting place of Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister and a one-time queen of France.

Bury St. Edmunds is also the home base of Greene King beer. Though we were told that the smell of wheat and hops permeates the town, it was so windy that I guessed we missed it. We did have some of their IPA product in the pub last night, and pronounced it very nice, though not as cold as we would prefer. But that’s Americans for you.

By a bit of luck, we were able to have a look at the inside of the Theatre Royal, which saw its first performance in 1819 and is today Britain’s only working Regency playhouse. It is a lovely restored active theatre, and we are sorry to have missed a performance there.

And just before we left, the town was nice enough to throw us a parade! Or rather, the Third Regiment Army Air Corps formed a parade around the town to mark the 50th anniversary of the Regiment. What a nice way to end our visit to our final East Anglia town.

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