Top things to see in Suffolk town for a pretty weekend getaway

If aliens built a Proper English Town from a book, it would probably look like Woodbridge.

This historic Suffolk town is the first touristy stop on the East Suffolk line from London to Lowestoft, Britain’s easternmost point.

As our two-car train juddered to a halt, we saw yacht masts and a top-notch ice cream parlour. Climb a hill of narrow pavements and wonky Tudor houses to the grand Shire Hall at the top.

Our base at The Crown hotel was just minutes along from it, among smart restaurants, gift shops and proper timber pubs. More than one shop sells flamingo ornaments and there’s a violin-maker on the main street.

But for me the bottom of the hill, where the town hits the River Deben, was the special bit.

Postcard pretty Woodbridge has smart restaurants, gift shops and proper timber pubs

The river’s lined with so much mud you think the tide can’t possibly cover it. We watched it glisten and pop in the sun, inhaling that wonderful salty smell, in an all-day walk along the shore.

Swans and kayaks weaved alongside people’s boats, where cats yawned and washing dried in the wind, and it felt like time had stopped. I sighed: “I want to live here.”

Our stroll was to Sutton Hoo (Tickets £8.90pp), whose world-famous Anglo-Saxon treasure – buried with its king inside a great ship – was unearthed months before the Second World War started.

The burial mounds are just grassy lumps, but the National Trust’s decent, child-friendly exhibition (mostly replicas, as originals are in the British Museum) set my imagination free.

A model of an Anglo Saxon burial mask at world famous Sutton Hoo

I half-closed my eyes and could picture ancient kings, the Tudor grave robbers who destroyed so many of their riches for ever, and Basil Brown, the archaeologist who turned up spade in hand in 1938 and exposed the remains to the world.

The site is currently undergoing a massive £4million redevelopment and will reopen next Easter.

Back in town we visited one of the only two working tide mills in Britain. My partner was dubious at first, but as we watched the cogs clack and grind wheat into flour, he was converted.

It’s spread over three floors and powered by a tidal pool emptying through its waterwheel. The river’s daily swell has had this use for 800 years.

I felt humbled knowing the restored mill, built in 1793 and run by 40 people, still sells its flour in the local Co-op. (Find out more at, tickets from £5pp).

Our base at The Crown hotel was minutes from the attractions

Check your dates: we were lucky and went during the 10K race and SpringFest music festival in May. That meant packed pubs, live bands and even a silent disco in the Angel – which has 170 gins on rotation.

Drivers might only want Woodbridge as a staging post. It’s the start of a lovely 40-mile stretch teeming with seaside towns, including pretty pastel-painted Aldeburgh – with its art galleries and restaurants – and Southwold, home to Adnams Brewery.

If you’re planning on sampling a bit too much of the fabulous gin they also make here, the train from Woodbridge also goes to this lovely resort.

A room at The Crown hotel

Further south, towards Aldeburgh, is quirky Thorpeness, with its mad House in the Clouds, beautiful boating lake and marvellous Emporium, stuffed to the rafters with antiques, collectables and vintage goodies.

Another stop if you have your own wheels is the sprawling complex at Snape Maltings, just south of Aldeburgh – spend a few hours here browsing more antique and vintage stalls, arts and crafts workshops and galleries, and stock up on deli items and baked goods.

Or linger longer for a concert – next week (October 19-21) is Britten Weekend, celebrating the area’s famous son.

I may have to conduct another visit to the county.

Book the holidau

BOOK IT: Bed and breakfast at The Crown at Woodbridge starts from £125 per room per night for two sharing., 01394 384242.

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