Three special Suffolk villages

    Spotlight 7/2023

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    Transcript: Three special Suffolk villages​


    Full of charm, stories and secrets, Orford lies on the coast south of Aldeburgh. It offers fine dining, cosy pubs and some of the tastiest seafoodFisch und Meeresfrüchte​seafood, bread and chocolate in Suffolk. This unprotected coast has a history of trade and strategic defence, as shown by the red-brickZiegel​red-brick warehouseLagerhauswarehouses, coastguardKüstenwache​coastguard’s cottage, old customs house and, rising high above everything, Orford Castle. Built by Henry II in the 12th century, the castle overlooked enemies, near and far.​

    The greatest threat to this busy port was the shingle spitLandzunge aus Kies​shingle spit (or “ness”) that separated it from the North Sea. As the spit spread, access to the quayKai​quay became more difficult and the town fell into decline: fall into ~verfallen​decline. With legal trade decreasing, smuggling increased, and legend tells of secret tunnels beneath the village. Secrets of a more modern era were guarded closely on Orford Ness, where the Ministry of Defence carried out testing of military technology for 70 years, from 1913 on. Now it’s a peaceful nature reserve, and a ferry or boat trip along the rivers Ore and Alde is the best way to explore this beautiful and mysterious area.​


    On the southern border of Suffolk, Flatford, and its small collection of historic riverside buildings, make a perfect picture – literallybuchstäblich​literally. For while the gentle flow of the River Stour marks the boundaryGrenzeboundary with Essex, the area’s timeless waters, bridges, trees and fields form a scene that most art lovers will immediately recognize: this is Constable country.​

    Born in East Bergholt in 1776, John Constable is regarded as one of Britain’s most famous landscape artists. Suffolk landscapes, especially the Stour Valley and Dedham Vale of his “careless boyhood”, were firm favourites. “They made me a painter (& I am grateful),” he wrote in 1821.​

    The Hay Wain, perhaps his best-known work, was painted at Flatford mill(Wasser)Mühle​Mill. Willy Lott’s Cottage, shown in the painting, and the mill are now run by the National TrustGesellschaft für Denkmalpflege und Naturschutz​National Trust; they include a study centre, Constable exhibition, guided walks and riverside tearooms. You can best enjoy Constable’s landscapes, however, by hiring a rowing boat (UK)Ruderboot​rowing boat or walking along the riverside path between Flatford and Dedham.​


    Wandering around historic Lavenham is like taking a time machine back to the 16th century, when the village was an East Anglian centre for the wool trade.​

    Lavenham is considered to be Britain’s best preserved medievalmittelalterlich​medieval village. With an unrivalledunübertroffen​unrivalled collection of timbered and half-timbered medieval buildings, it also has independent shops, fine dining, and cosy pubs and cafes. The triangulardreieckig​triangular Market Square is a delight, with a market cross from 1501 and housing the beautifully proportioned Little Hall and Corpus Christi guildhall (UK)Gildehaus​Guildhall, complete with exhibition, walledhinter hohen Mauern, ummauert​walled garden and tearoom.​

    This is not a place to rush through. To get a feel for what Lavenham is about, it’s well worth walking the length of the village, all the way up the hill to the 14th-century Church of St Peter and St Paul. It can make you feel a bit dizzyschwindelig​dizzy, though, as there’s hardly a straight house or shopfront along the way. Among the more than 300 listed buildings are many painted in traditional Suffolk Pink, a pastel, rose-pink coloured limewashKalkmilch, Kalkanstrich​limewash used on many homes across the county.

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