Sunday, 26 March 2017

Short Visit To Woodbridge in Suffolk, UK

Mid March we decided to visit Woodbridge in Suffolk for a couple of days.  It lies just North of the famous port of Felixstowe.  Woodbridge lies around 8 miles from the coast along the river Deben. There are over 1100 years of recorded history relating to the town, with many old buildings still visible today.

We arrived on the Sunday evening at The Grove Guest House located on the A12 just on the edge of Woodbridge.   After checking in and unpacking we walked into the main part of Woodbridge, which we had been told on arrival was about a 15 minute walk.

Some shots of our double, en-suite room, our room was at the rear of the property.  Because we live in a static van on a caravan site, it was actually a nice change to have a view that most people take for granted!!


I think we were in the 'blue room.'  It was a lovely bright, warm room with en-suite.



Our walk to the old market place, did take us just over 15 minutes, but that was allowing for stopping to take a couple of photos on route.

There was a windmill lurking in the shadows, it looked quite spooky nestled behind the trees with its outside lighting.  Buttrum's Mill also know as Trott's Mill is a Grade II listed tower mill, built in 1836 replacing an earlier post mill.


Sunday night in mid March is not the best of times to try and find something to eat. most of the pubs stopped serving food at 6pm.  We liked the look of a small placed called the East Coast Diner so opted for that and were glad we did.




I chose a rose wine from the specials list and Ian had a designer beer with an unusual name!




The menu was a mixture of burgers and pizzas.  I chose 'The Bacon BBQ Burger' and Ian 'King Frank' a smokey pork frankfurter, both with a side of skinny fries.


After the food and drink we had a bit more of a wander around the town.  We came across this large sculpture in the grounds of the Quay Church


This lovely flock of sheep can be found in the window of The Leather and Sheepskin Limited.


I love the name of this little shopping precinct.


The old market place at Woodbridge is dominated by the Shire Hall constructed in 1575,  Originally the ground floor was an open corn market.


To the side of the Market Place can be found a statue of Queen Victoria proudly standing in the Garden of Remembrance.


After breakfast on Monday morning we took the short 10 minute drive to Sutton Hoo, the world famous Anglo Saxon Royal Burial Site, looked after by the National Trust.  When you first arrive you are advised to visit the exhibition center where the history of the site is explained and you can see accurate replicas of some of the items excavated in June 1938.


The iconic image associated with the finds is the Kings Helmet, a large replica hangs over the entrance of the exhibition hall.


The first thing we did was sit and watch an 8 minute film of the history before wandering around the exhibition.  There are volunteers on hand to chat to you and answer any questions you may have.

There are a few of these handsets dotted about where you can listen to recordings of the main characters involved in the excavations, one of them being Basil Brown the chief archaeologist, along with other archaeologists Jack Jacobs and Charles Phillips.


Here we can see an exact replica of the Iron Helmet, down to the size and weight being the same as the original.  Other materials used in the helmet are bronze, tinned-bronze, silver and guilt-bronze and garnets.


There were some period costumes for the children to dress up in. they were a bit small for hubby. so made do with modelling the helmet.


You can step back in time and step inside the burial chamber.



The one thing that struck us as we were admiring the artifacts on display was how good the craftsman's eye sight must have been.  Today we rely on good lighting, magnifying equipment, all they had was the naked eye and day light.  When I walk around seeing the number of people, young and old wearing glasses due to poor eye sight, it makes me wonder that with all our technological advances as a people we have our weaknesses.

Once you have finished walking around the exhibition you are then directed to walk around the grounds and towards the burial mounds.  We stopped off at the Cafe for a coffee and a cake before we headed off.  Unfortunately the weather had deteriorated by this time and it was blustery and raining but we still decided to have a walk.

The view from the cafe shows the start of the green short walk that takes you to Tranmer House the house that the estate belongs to.  This time of year the walk is lined with daffodils, today dancing in the wind.  They have even provided a frame for your view or photograph.


From the cafe we are heading to our left and following the (yellow walk) Burial Mound Walk and also the start of the (red circular walk) Valley Walk.  Again there are some lovely clumps of daffodils here, even on a dull day like today they add a lovely splash of colour.


We have come across the boat seat, a lovely carved seat sheltered by a boat structure sitting on end, with beautiful views across the valley to the River Deben in the distance.


Just to give you an idea of the scale of this seat, here is a picture of me, Ian could not get further enough back to get all of the structure in as there was a fence in the way.


Looking across the valley to the River Deben gives you a sense of how large an estate this is.


Further along the path we get a slightly better glimpse of the river with Woodbridge lining part of its bank.


From here we can see Tranmer House, which we will call in to later.


We have now reached The Burial Ground and unfortunately the rain is being blown straight at us.  I would advise if you have the time and it is a better day to take the tour that gets you right onto The Burial Ground as it is difficult to see it from the cordoned off walk way.

The mound we are looking at was reconstructed in 1993 and the site of a second robbed out ship burial.


There are several sheep around the site with their work cut out keeping the grass clipped.....


and some grumpy looking pigs!


We have now left the Burial Ground (yellow route) and are carrying on around the Valley Walk (red route), thorough the Top Hat Wood.


We spotted this large fungus growing high up on the trunk of one of the trees.


Found the lovely quite spot where the Honey Bees live.


As you continue along the Pinewood Walk (blue circular route) you get to see more of the River Deben and its banks.


Here you can see some of the houseboats that are moored up here.




We are know walking through Chestnut Walk, and spotted the 'friendly dragon'.




We then found a 'crocodile' that was lying low in the undergrowth hiding from the dragon!


We have now come to Tranmer House brought by Edith Dempster after her marriage to Frank Pretty after he had proposed to her one a year for 24 years before she accepted his proposal.  However after only 8 years of marriage Frank died of cancer.  After Franks death and looking at the strange mounds visible from the house Edith decided to contact a local historian, eventually Basil Brown a local archaeologist turned up with a spade.

The ground floor of the house is open to the public and unlike most houses looked after by the National Trust you are encouraged to touch and investigate the items on display and even sit on the furniture.

Along one of the wood panelled walls of one of the living rooms sits a gramophone in a dark wooden case' on a dark wood table.


After the darkness of the wood panelled room the dining room is very light and airy with lovely views across the estate, although on a windy day like today you really get to know how exposed this house is on the site.



You don't see many of these writing bureaus these days.


There is a display of the items of kit used back in the 1938 dig.  My first typewriter as a child was a Corona.


There is a photo of a chair like this with Edith Pretty sitting in it, with a blanket rapped around her legs, and binoculars in her lap, watching the excavation of Mound 1. A copy of the photo can be seen underneath the chair.


In one of the outbuildings there is a reconstruction of Basil Brown's workshop.



After heading back to the restaurant for a scone and a cup of tea we headed back to Woodbridge to explore a bit more of it in daylight.

Unfortunately the weather was still changeable so we found ourselves dodging showers but still manage to see more.

In Woodbridge we came across Woodbridge Violins, suppliers, restorers and repairers of stringed instruments since 1991.  I don't think I have ever seen so many stringed instruments in one place. Unfortunately there was nobody about in the shop at the time so I had to take the photos through the shop window.  The building that the shop is located in dates back to the 16th Century.



Above on of the doorways along Church Street we spotted this carved relief with the inscription W& R AD1866.  As yet I have not be able to find out what it means.


We have now found our way down to the banks of the River Deben here we are looking across to the Tide Mill.  This was the location of the first Tide Mill in the country and operated for well over 800 years, longer than any other.  The earliest records shows a Tide Mill on this site in 1170.  The Tide Mill has been restored and renovated over recent years and is one again fully operational.


There is also a Yacht Club and Rowing Club and Cruising Club, located down by the river, it must be a very busy place at times.


There is quite a good path along the top of the river bank with seats dotted along it so its is a good place to go for a walk.  Although it is still very windy and keeps trying to rain, so its not looking its best.



We spotted an Oystercatcher on the path way in front of us, they are lovely birds with their bright orange beaks.  Not the best of shots as it was a bit to far away.


Also spotted a Curlew wading along the rivers edge.


For the last year or so I have been interested in the various weather veins that I come across when I am out and about.  This is a first it can be found on the roof of the Woodbridge Cruising Club.  There emblem is taken from the Anglo-Saxon Longship found at Sutton Hoo.


There are some interesting looking boats and house boats moored here and this cream colored one is no exception.


This plaque with the date 1568, can be found on Quay Side on the wall of the 16th Century house formerly the Ship Inn, first meeting place of the Independents in 1650.


Here we are looking at The Old Towns Water Pump installed in 1877.  It is Grade II Listed and of Gothic design, 


For our last evening meal in Woodbridge we visited the oldest pub in town the Kings Head Inn built in the 15th Century.  It can be found on the corner of the Market Place.



They even have a menu for your four legged friends.

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