6 spectacular sites for Suffolk Day

Home to the most easterly point in England, Lowestoft Ness in Suffolk is the first place in the country to see the solstice sun rise each summer on 21st June.

Today is also the second annual Suffolk Day, and to celebrate we take a tour of six spectacular Suffolk sites.

  1. Suffolk Pink

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The Old Grammar School, Lavenham, Suffolk. © Historic England

Long before Millennial Pink existed, residents of Suffolk were mixing berries, or possibly blood (though this has been disputed), in with lime wash to create a delicate pale pink with which to decorate the exteriors of their homes.

Nowadays estate agents wax lyrical about the charm of towns and villages like Lavenham, but strict rules apply to owners of these homes, who must retain the original shade.

2. A House in the Clouds

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Designed as part of the Thorpeness village development for Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie in 1923, The House in the Clouds was originally a water tower: it was converted into a house in the 1970s.

The site was originally a small fishing hamlet but was redeveloped by Ogilvie as a nostalgic, ‘fantasy’ holiday village. The water tower was clad in wood in a bid to make it fit with the new vernacular.

3. Orford Ness

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As the largest vegetated shingle spit in Europe, Orford Ness is of international importance in 20th Century military history. Initially used in the First World War as a flying field, its remoteness led to its use for the investigation of bomb ballistics. Between 1953 and 1971, the spit was occupied by the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment. Its primary task was environmental testing to simulate the conditions that nuclear weapons and their components might experience during trials and in service use.

4. Dunwich

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Further north along the coast is what may have been the capital of the 6th Century Kingdom of East Angles, which lasted until 918 when it was incorporated into the Kingdom of England. Today, the village of Dunwich is home to less than 200 people.

It was originally an important international port, with over 3000 residents recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. However, a series of devastating storms in the 13th century ravaged the town, and most of the historic buildings. The ruins of the monastery, Greyfriars survive as does the solitary grave of Jacob Forster who died in 1796. The surrounding graves were lost to the sea but his remains on the cliff edge.

5. The Willis Building

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Ipswich competes with neighbouring Colchester for the title of England’s oldest town and is home to many medieval buildings.  Most of the Grade I buildings in Ipswich date from at least the 18th Century, with many going back further. With one exception: the youngest Grade I building was built in the 1970s.

The Willis Building was one of the first buildings designed by Norman Foster, now one of the most famous architects in the world, and makes masterful use of complex architectural innovation.

6. Black Shuck

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On the 4th August 1577, ‘a strange, and terrible wunder’ occurred in north east Suffolk. A huge black dog is said to have burst into St Mary’s Church in Bungay and later the Holy Trinity Church in Blythburgh, following a clap of thunder. The dog killed two worshippers, caused the church steeple to collapse and supposedly left scorch marks on the door of Holy Trinity

Today, the Black Dog name adorns many local shops as well as the marathon and the local football club. Meanwhile an excavation at the nearby Leiston Abbey uncovered the bones of a large dog, which may have dated from the 17th Century. The press went wild, had the great mystery of Black Shuck finally been solved? The archaeologists didn’t think so, suggesting instead that it was ‘a working dog that lived long into “retirement”’.

Further Reading

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