Many artists have escaped to Suffolk to gather inspiration throughout the years, whether it be for music, poetry, writing or art. The county is famed for its stunning scenery, from the rolling fields of Constable Country to the serenity of Shingle Street.
Indeed, some of the most famous paintings in England’s history were created here in Suffolk including several pieces by Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable, as well as the iconic scallop by Maggi Hambling. Suffolk has also inspired musicians, from Britten’s magnum opus “Peter Grimes”, to Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill”, written about his childhood in Framlingham. Amongst the writers that have drawn inspiration from Suffolk are George Orwell, E.M. Forster, Beatrix Potter and P.D. James, with tales of everything from murder mysteries to nightmarish dystopias.
Whilst there are frankly too many fantastic locations to list, we have rounded up a few of our favourites – perfect if you are need of some artistic inspiration (or if you just love exploring!).
Picturesque villages, rolling farmland, rivers, meadows, ancient woodland and an abundance of wildlife; this is the Dedham Vale. This lowland landscape, characteristic of Suffolk’s scenery, was made famous by John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough many years ago – yet is still recognisable for its distinctive beauty.
Due to the ploughing of much of East Anglia’s traditional grasslands for arable farming, the presence of this area has become ever more precious in recent years, which has led to the Dedham Vale’s landscapes of hedgerows and wildflowers to become some of the country’s most vulnerable landscapes. A must see if you are holidaying in the county; we recommend a stay at the quintessentially English Wash Cottage in order to get the most out of the area.
Westleton to Dunwich
Dunwich is an interesting place; what was once a thriving port city in ancient times is now a few houses and a pub, due to erosion of the coastline. What remains however is certainly a thing of beauty, made all the more fascinating by its history. To get the most out of this area we recommend taking a walk, starting in the small village of Westleton.
Starting from Westleton, head along paths overlooking the marshes before cutting through them to the beach. A stroll along the shingle will bring you to the glorious Dunwich Heath, a haven for wildlife, stunning in both the summer and autumn months when the purple heather and yellow gorse are in bloom. If you’re interested in staying in Dunwich itself, take a look at Bridge Cottage, just minutes from the sea.
Located around eight miles south-east of Woodbridge across the marshes on the far side of Hollesley, Shingle Street’s desolation adds to its unique and enduring appeal to creative people everywhere. The only settlement in Suffolk without any actual streets, the area encompasses a long line of bungalows and cottages facing out directly onto shingle and the North Sea.
The reasons for the street’s eerie isolation are certainly of interest; residents were forcibly evacuated in 1940 in anticipation of a German invasion, and after the war it was deemed uninhabitable due to the number of mines that had been laid on the beach. The street never truly regained the prosperity it once had, and despite its isolation there is an abundance of birds and wildlife, thriving in seclusion. A stunning area – you can even stay there yourself at 6 Coastguard Cottages.
Holding an attraction for wildlife and birds such as woodlark, nightjar, dartford warbler, goldcrest and nightingale (to name just a few), this peaceful common is full of surprises. Compact but nonetheless beautiful, this peaceful common is full of wonder throughout the year; in summer silver-studded blue butterflies dance amongst the hedgerows whilst in autumn you can expect bold red and white mushrooms, appearing as if by magic by the changing of the season.
This fairytale-like location is best explored by walking; a particularly popular route is through Snape towards Tunstall, passing through Blaxhall Common on the way. Certainly, one of the features that make the Suffolk Coast so unique are its areas of lowland heath; much depleted over the past century, there are some wonderful areas that are still well worth an explore, Blaxhall Common being one of them. To get the most out of this location, holiday at Acorn Barn; surrounded by open fields, it is just the place for a relaxing break.
An area of Breckland in Suffolk and southern Norfolk, the Brecks is characterised by its strange landscapes, with the twisted scots pines of Thetford Forest, purple heathland, rare wildlife and uncommonly blue skies. Ideal for outdoor sports with routes for cycling and walking, it’s beauty can be explored on both bike and foot.
The heart of the Brecks is of course Thetford Forest, a deep pine forest home to many rare birds, hare and deer, offering rivers for wild swimming, recreation parks and even “Go Ape” activities. This is certainly one for all the family to enjoy, with activities for all age groups – you certainly will not hear “I’m bored”. Adults can sit back, relax and enjoy the gorgeous, inspiring scenery.
Image of Dedham Vale courtesy of Flickr.