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Long Melford (England)

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Long Melford (or Melford, as it is known colloquially) is a large, ancient village in the county of Suffolk, England, on the border with Essex, which is marked by the River Stour, approximately 16 miles from Colchester and 14 miles from Bury St. Edmunds.

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      21.07.2003 01:46
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      Long Melford is a large village in Suffolk, close to the market town of Sudbury, and 20 minutes away from Bury St. Edmunds. The village lies on the A134. So how did Long Melford get it’s name? The village street is nearly two miles long, and I was always told as a child, that it boasted the longest main village street in the country, although I am not sure if this is true. Whilst the length of the village is impressive, its width is only a quarter of a mile, hence the name. The village dates from Tudor times, and many influential people have lived there. http://www.longmelford.co.uk/village/people.html sets out a brief history of the village. Long Melford is a tourist attraction and people come from all over the country to visit the village, either as holiday makers or just out for a day trip. I lived in the village for nearly twenty years, before moving to London for 12 years. I am now back in Suffolk, and live five minutes away from Long Melford again. There is a problem parking in the main street. There are spaces for off road parking, but these are notoriously difficult to find in the Summer months, so I would suggest that you either tootle along to the free car park at the bottom of the village green, or actually park on the green itself. The village has a thriving antiques industry, and there are many shops scattered along the high street. New antiques shops open all the time, which proves that they must make a living. Some of the shops are mainly bric a brac, but for the discerning antique hunters, many of these enterprises stock the most outrageously priced items, such as Patrick Marney, who only stock antique barometers, and The Hunter Gallery, who specialise in paintings. The Persian Carpet Gallery supposedly has the largest showroom in East Anglia and is a relative newcomer to the village. The Village Clocks shop has been in the village for as long as I can remember. There is a marvellous display of old
      clocks, which can be seen though the windows. Although two of the public houses have closed in recent times, the village still boasts many of them. The Perseverance is the first pub you will find, as you enter the village from Sudbury. The Percy, as it is known to the locals, is a small pub, recently taken over by new owners. Steve plays darts here on occasion during the year. They do provide bed and breakfast, and also bar snacks. The George and Dragon, in the heart of the main street, has a restaurant within the pub, and you won’t be able to eat there unless you have a few pennies. The food is good, but only served in small portions. The George prides itself on providing live music on a Wednesday evening, when the place heaves. A pleasant courtyard beer garden to the rear of the pub provides a sheltered place to sit and chat, and bed and breakfast accommodation is also available. Moving up the street, The Cock and Bell was my local when I first visited pubs. These days, it does not seem to have young clientele, but serves the most wonderful food, and the restaurant is reasonably priced. The service is good, and the food wonderful, and there are tables outside the pub, if you choose to watch the world go by over a pint. At this time of year, these tables will always be full. The Swan is a pub for the older folk in the village. It has changed many times over the years and I have not visited it for some time. There are two bars, the public bar and the lounge, and they run a darts and a crib team. The Hare is situated at the top of the village, and is another great place to eat. Their lunch time menu is extensive, and they quite often run a promotion whereby you can eat for a fiver. The food is home-cooked, and they serve the most wonderful steak and ale pies, as well as fresh caught fish. There are many hotels in the village. The Bull, which was built in 1450, is an impressive timber building. The
      inside has inglenook fireplaces, and many original features, creating the impression that you have been transported back in time. Many famous people have stayed at The Bull, both in the past and the present, and it is also a very popular place for weddings and private functions. You can expect to pay £55.00 per person per night for bed and breakfast. The Crown is a smaller hotel, situated in the middle of the village, which also has a small public bar to the front. The restaurant is well used, both for patrons and the locals. If you’re looking for a more upmarket meal, Chimneys Restaurant is the place to go. The restaurant is housed in a 16th century timber framed building, which serves a la carte as well as fixed price menus. Years ago, Chimneys was named Jason’s Carvery, where we used to have many family Sunday lunches. These days, the portions are small but I am told the food is fantastic. Scutcher’s Bistro, is at the west of the village, and was converted from a thriving pub, into a more upmarket eaterie. I have not eaten here, but it is on a par with The Black Lion, a 17th century establishment, about two minutes walk away in that the food is expensive and you don’t get much for your money. However, all of these places are busy throughout the year, and booking is essential. Spaghetti Junction has been open in the village for about five years. An extensive pasta and pizza menu is served, at reasonable prices, and the restaurant is always busy. Spag Junction also provides wonderful salads and fresh ground coffee, as well as heavenly cream teas. There is a shop on the first floor, selling some wonderful homewares. For a fast food snack, Chips and Chopstix provided freshly cooked fish and chips, together with a small Chinese menu. My parents used to own this business, and although the menu is still good, I’m going to be biased and say not as good as years ago. However, most of the menu is c
      ooked to order, and is always piping hot. If it’s good old Indian you fancy, Melford Valley Indian Cuisine is situated next door, and is open until late most days of the week. The United Reformed Church Hall provides a base for the local playgroup, as well as the small village library, which opens three days per week. The Hall can also be rented out for private parties. The Village Hall was built approximately 15 years ago, and, as well as being used for private functions, it is also used for antique fairs, plant and tool sales, and is the venue for blood donation. However, the evening sessions are always manic, so it is best to go in the afternoon. The Hall is set back from the road and a small stream runs behind it, which is a great place for catching “tiddlers”. Our children love getting in the car and visiting this spot with the dog, and if you are really in a walking mood, it is possible to visit the next village, by walking across the fields from here. To the other end of the village is a spot called Liston, although theoretically, this is in Essex. Here there is a wonderful waterfall in the river, as well as a millpool. The fields parallel to this spot make a wonderful walk and we often visit with the dog. Years ago, a railway line ran through the village, connecting Bury St. Edmunds to Sudbury. This has now long gone, but some of the bridges remain on the fields, and I have fond memories of my Dad sitting me on a stile, to watch the old steam trains chug past. The village boasts its own fire station, which has in recent years been relocated to the main street. It is run by retained firefighters, most of whom I went to school with, and it is not uncommon to see the fire engine out at fetes and open days within the village. The “new” village school was built just as I left primary school in the seventies. It is situated to the east of the village, a two minute walk from the do
      ctors surgery, which is another new building. Due to the building of new houses in the village, facilities could not cope, and many new buildings had to be erected. The school has its own swimming pool, as well as a woodland walk, and a new play area. When children leave the primary school at the age of nine, they will then attend middle school in Sudbury or Clare, both a bus trip away. There are a vast amount of shops in the village. Long Melford Saddlery sports a magnificent range of equestrian products, and has an impressive full size model of a horse outside the shop. I was once hoisted onto this after a heavy drinking session, and left there. I could not move for fear of falling off! As well as providing everything the horse rider needs, the shop also stocks pet feeds for smaller domestic pets, as well as bedding and accessories. Fleetwood Caravans is a thriving business in the village, where caravans and touring vehicles are made on site. There are three car sales businesses within the village. Rodbridge Car Company is the better of the three, and stocks a wide range of second hand cars, at which we bought our most recent model. The prices are competitive, after sales service is superb, and the staff are friendly and helpful. There is only one petrol station in the village, Southgate Service Station. This also sells a small range of used cars, and has a hand car wash on the forecourt. Swags and Bows specialises in interior designs, as well as some beautiful but expensive cuddly toys, or if it is fashion you want, why not take a walk up the street to The Puffa Shop, who not only sell jackets, but fleeces, wallets and accessories. Instep is an Italian boutique who sell shoes, handbags and boots. Angela’s Boutique now have two outlets in the village, but this is another shop that you only need enter if you have serious dosh. Far too posh for me, but people come from miles to buy her clothes.
      Landers Bookshop has been in the village now for twenty years and is a wonderful place to browse. The shop offers a huge range of books, both old and new. The staff are friendly, and fudge, sweets and stationery can also be purchased here. The shop will also order titles for you, if they have not got them for sale. The Posting House Pottery is run from a house in the village, and is a great place to visit. Roger, who owns the business, can always be seen at the village street fair, which was held this weekend, with his potters wheel, demonstrating his skills, and he also encourages the children to take part. There are two butchers in the village, Clarkes and Ruses, who both offer a wonderful array of meats, pates, game, etc, and both provide a home delivery service. Of the two I prefer Ruses, who also offer a variety of jams, sauces, honey etc, all made locally. There is a small Co-op supermarket in the village, but Tesco and other larger stores are in Sudbury, a ten minute car journey. There is a Spar shop incorporating “The Patisserie”. In the village, which stays open to 10pm each night. We have had to use this on occasion if we have run out of cigarettes! The cakes and bread served here are made on site, but it has to be said that they are not as nice as they used to be years ago. The Holy Trinity Church is a magnificent piece of architecture, and stands imposingly to the rear of the village green. The Church was built in the 15th Century, and has a chapel attached to its right hand side, called The Lady Chapel. This chapel was originally used as the village school, and an early times table square can still be seen in the wall, but the chapel is now often used for smaller weddings. The wonderful stained glass windows, mostly date from medieval times. The tower, is the most modern part of the church, and was built in 1903. The Clopton family (who now have a road named after them in the village) originally p
      ut up the money to build the church, and some of the windows bear witness to this, depicting their images. I have lost count of the number of weddings, funerals and christenings I have attended at the church, but I do remember the old rector falling in a burial plot during a service. The church can be visited and also tours can be arranged. Every time we have visited, Amber has always bought something from the little shop, which is open for tourists. Kentwell Hall is situated to the north of the village and is very popular with tourists. The Hall is approached by a long tree lined avenue, and when I was small, it seemed never ending. I always thought I would find a pot of gold at the end of it. The Hall was built by the Clopton family and overlooks the church. It has recently been refurbished and it is possible to tour the house and the gardens, although I would imagine the main revenue generated is from the Tudor Days, which take place here, normally in the summer months. My children have all visited Kentwell throughout their school years, and they have to dress accordingly, depending what period of history is being re-enacted at the time. Kentwell also hosts a lambing day in the Spring, and farmers markets on selected weekends. Melford Hall was built in 1554 by Sir William Cordell (another person who has a road named after him in the village), and is also open to the public. Queen Elizabeth 1 visited the Hall in 1578, when it was completed. The Hall originally had a moat, but in recent years, this has been removed, and the majority of the building is in its original form, although through refurbishment, due to a horrific fire in the 1940’s. There are some wonderful displays of furniture and paintings within the Hall, some painted by Beatrix Potter. The Hall was purchased in the 1700’s by Sir Harry Hyde Parker, and is now owned by his descendents, Sir Richard and Lady Hyde Parker. The estate for The Hall is massive, and the Hyde Parke
      rs also own the village green. The grounds of the Hall are often used for Country Fairs, as well as The Big Night out, a firework display, which begins with a float procession through the village, and culminates in a spectacular firework display and funfair at The Hall. This display attracts thousands of visitors each year and gets better every time I visit. It is possible to see the display three miles away where I live now, but there is nothing like going to the event. The old village primary school, set on the village green, is now a community centre, and boasts an antiques fair most weekends, as well as craft fairs and farmers markets. The car park beside this is the only man made car park in the village. The village has its own football club, which is set to the west of the main street. The Club runs adult, as well as youth teams and was formed in 1868. The adult team now play in the Ridgeons League, and the stadium is undergoing work ready for the new season. The Cricket Club, adjacent the football club, was formed in 1855 and reformed in 1954. The ground has always been well maintained, and the cricket pavilion is also hired out for private parties. A tennis court is also on the site, at which no charge is made for hiring, and which Jack uses regularly. The Silver Band in the village was formed in 1894 and is still going strong to this day. Every Christmas, the band plays carols along the main street, as well as performing throughout the year at various venues throughout the country. House prices in the village vary. If you want a prestigious location on the main street, or adjacent the village you can be talking up to ¾ million. However, the village is expanding all the time, and many new estates are growing by the day, and the prices there are much cheaper. I have to be a snob here and say that if I ever lived in Long Melford again, it would have to be on the main street where I lived whilst growing up, so it loo
      ks as though unless I win the lottery, that is never going to happen. I have only touched on the places to visit, eat and some of the history of the village in this review. For a village, Long Melford is a wonderful place to visit, and has the most amazing range of places to eat, drink and shop. If you’re ever down Suffolk way, visit Long Melford and see for yourself what a wonderful place it is.

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        13.11.2000 04:02
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        I come from a small village called Long Melford. Situated 17 miles south of Ipswich and and 15 miles south-east of colchester it has it's advantages where it is located. Well what can I say about Long Melford? Well to start with it is a very historical village,it goes back to the 12th century or even further I am not sure. It gets its name from being literally a long,long street which starts at the top with a very old church, boasts of a medieval village/come hall and of course Melford hall, then it proceeds downwards to the high street where all the shops and public houses live. Melford is well known for it's antique shops I currently think they consist of 15 and given the size of the village this is an considerable amount. In the village there is also 7 public houses and two hotels. One hotel being of very high standard and the other just as good but a more informal atmosphere. I am not sure if people are aware but the countryside surrounding Long Melford is beautiful and nearly un-spoilt,I say nearly because a few years ago an ugly by-pass was inserted but in all due respect it was needed to ease congestion. There are a great deal of villages surrounding this pretty village, from Glemsford, Gt Waldingfield and the equally famous Lavenham which is renowned for it's tudor buildings and suchlike. Lets begin by mentioning Kentwell Hall. This hall is re-enacted each year, where people volunteer to spend their summer living as the people of the hall's era did once live,it is amusing to see them as they really do live like it even coming to the pub for a quick pint in there gear. I think Kentwall Hall is also famous for the witch trials that were held there. They used to hang all those unfortunate women from the tree's that create an avenue leading to the hall. Believe me it isn't a nice place to go at night!! Long Melford also consists of a tudor hotel which is owned by trust-house forte
        , and it was also the location for the 'lovejoy' series that was shot a few years back. It is a beautiful hotel that is enjoyed by many,many tourists each year. Also surrounding Long Melford is the village of Borley about 2 miles away which was once famous for the 'borley rectory ghost' which has now been proven as a hoax. There is loads to do and see in this village or in any of the surrounding villages that are all stooped in history and lots of friendly people. And how do I know that well I am one of those friendly people that have lived there all my life!! You should be able to find out more by visiting your local tourist information centre. There is also no need to book in advance as there are plenty of b&b's and lots of coach trips you can book as you get there. All I can say is don't be shy give us a try.

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