Published: 27/04/2019 By Susie BullmanA lot of people feel that way: Hadleigh is most definitely nestled in the countryside (you’re surrounded by irresistible walks, a river, churches and beautiful scenery) but it’s also got ALL the amenities you’d ever need: schools, doctors’ surgery, supermarket (not huge but ample), independent shops, pharmacy, tearooms, the lot!
It’s got creative Suffolk folk, pink timber houses, pubs that lure you in with their cosy comfort, and rather nice eateries too.
It’s a 20-minute drive from the A12 and it’s between the larger towns of Sudbury and Ipswich, on the River Brett.
Why does Hadleigh appeal?
Hadleigh is an ancient market town in countryside that inspired the great painters Gainsborough and Constable. It was centre of industry for wool and cloth, as so many of these now-quaint Suffolk villages were.
It has also been the home to the rich and famous. If you remember the Avengers, the late actor Patrick Newell used to live there. Acclaimed poet, Pauline Stainer, made it her home for a time. Maggi Hambling CBE, the contemporary painter and sculptor was born there and fashion commentator Caryn Franklin, MBE, lives there too.
There is one more rather famous living being who returns to Hadleigh year after year: and that’s Nobby the Norfolk Horn (sheep). He’s part of the Sheep Show, a travelling roadshow of dancing sheep who appear regularly at the annual Hadleigh Show in May. This is one of the biggest annual attractions: a brilliant agricultural show with Vintage Tractors, Young Farmers, livestock, art marquees, rural craft and local producers.
What are the houses like?
If you like the Suffolk pink timbers, then there are plenty of those along Benton Street and in the centre of the village. But there is actually a wide range of housing available in many different styles, so you are bound to find something that suits you.
What’s good about living in Hadleigh?
The community is supportive and active. There is a summer music festival in July and of course the agricultural show (one of the oldest one-day events) in May. There are hundreds of different activities and events going on throughout the year, including Christmas Light switch on, art exhibitions in the church, garden openings and jazz nights.
There is a market every Friday from 9-2pm just off the High Street, which boasts local produce including fresh fish!
Hadleigh has its own football and cricket team, with the leisure centre not far off the High Street, too.
It’s the kind of place that you don’t really have to leave as everything you could want or need is there. Saying that, it’s quite a central location as access to either townlife or countrylife is very straightforward.
If you work in Ipswich then you’re only 20-minute drive away. Or the bus service is pretty good with frequent and varied routes to the surrounding villages and towns. Trains to London are probably easiest caught by driving to nearby Manningtree where a direct service to the City of London only takes 60 minutes.
What are the schools like?
In the past the schools hadn’t been rated so highly by Ofsted but they have been working hard to improve and now the town’s primaries, St Mary’s CofE & Hadleigh Community are ‘good’. Beaumont Community ‘requires improvement’ but as Ofsted says, they are ‘taking effective action’. The secondary school Hadleigh High is rated as ‘good’.
Talking to the locals, you’ll find that they’ll say Hadleigh is a great place to live. They avidly support their local businesses and it’s a very self-sufficient town. Just as in days of yore, it continues to be a bustling market town, full of Suffolk character!
Where to Stay?
If you’re in need of luxurious Bed and Breakfast accommodation we can whole-heatedly recommend The Gables on the High Street (although booking in advance is recommended): http://thegableshadleigh.co.uk/