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Britain > Suffolk > Woodbridge

A riverside town with a long history


Tide Mill
River & Harbour
Independent Food Shops
Sutton Hoo
Woodbridge is on the banks of the River Deben, just a short distance from the sea. Throughout its life, the town's prosperity has been linked to the water. For years it built boats and manufactured sails. The port grew into a busy, lucrative place, with dozens of trading ships calling here every year. It has a since become a more recreational place, perfect for sunny weekends. You can walk alongside the river, past the country pubs and the yacht clubs.

Boats in Woodbridge Harbour
One of the earliest businesses on the River Deben was the Tide Mill. Woodbridge's residents have been using the power of the sea to grind corn for nearly a millennium. The current pointy-roofed, white-walled building dates from 1793. By the time it finally closed, in 1957, it had become the United Kingdom's very last working tide mill. Thankfully, the site wasn't abandoned. It was refurbished and opened to the public, so they could learn how the mill served its townsfolk for so long.

Painting of the Tide Mill as displayed inside

Inside the Tide Mill
Just across the river from here is a place called Sutton Hoo. At first glance it looks like nothing more than a few grassy mounds, but this was the site of one of the most important archaeological discoveries in British history. In the 7th century, one of the first Saxon kings ruled over East Anglia. He was buried here, inside an entire 27-metre-long ship. This was just one part of a huge graveyard, discovered in the 1930s. It contains royals, soldiers and even prisoners, all ready to sail towards some sort of afterlife. The Visitor Centre tells the full story, and displays a selection of Sutton Hoo's treasures. There's even a full-size reconstruction of the main burial chamber.

One of the mounds at Sutton Hoo
Photo EccyLad

A replica burial helmet
Photo wit
A broader look at the area's local history can be found at Woodbridge Museum. The exhibits chart the town's progress in the centuries since the Anglo-Saxons buried their ships.
The treasures of Sutton Hoo show just how old Woodbridge really is. It has 1400 years of recorded history, and much more that was never written down. You can see evidence of this in the varied range of architectural styles, from Georgian houses to Tudor pubs. Sometimes these get mixed together, as 18th century refurbishments of 16th century originals.

Shirehall in the centre of Woodbridge

The Kings Head

The church in the centre of Woodbridge
In the main shopping streets, such architecture is best found by keeping your eye above street level. Down on the ground floor, old buildings have often been transformed into modern shops and restaurants. Many of these are locally-owned, independent businesses. Woodbridge has a particularly good reputation for its food. There are lots of delicatessens, cafés and tea shops. According to the residents, the bakeries serve the best croissants this side of the Channel.

One of the indepedent food outlets in Woodbridge
When you visit Woodbridge, it might be a good idea to keep one eye on the sky. In December, 1980, the nearby forest of Rendlesham was the site of Britain's most famous UFO sighting. Officers and staff at the nearby RAF base reported unusual activity on the radar, so they sent people to investigate. Their encounter with fast-moving flashing lights made both national and international news!
Visitor Information
Woodbridge Tourist Information Centre, Station Buildings, Woodbridge, IP12 4AJ. Tel: 01394 382 240
Sutton Hoo (NT) is open daily, April to October, 10:30am to 5pm (plus limited opening in winter, 11am to 4pm). Entry costs around £7.20 for adults, £3.75 children. Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DJ. Tel: 01394 389 700
Woodbridge Tide Mill is open daily, May to September, 11am to 5pm (plus weekends in April and October). Entry costs around £2.50 for adults, £1.50 children. Tide Mill Way, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12. Tel: 01728 746 959

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