Last Updated on December 1, 2020
When it comes to history, Suffolk has something of an enviable reputation. From thirteenth century churches to abbeys and stately homes, Suffolk competes with the very best when it comes to sites of historic interest.
Perhaps the best way to get immersed in the rich history and heritage of Suffolk, however, is to visit one of its many historic houses.
Largely open to the public, it’s incredibly easy to travel back in time and discover something special in the towns and villages around the county.
1: The Red House
Located in the coastal town of Aldeburgh, the Red House was once the home of esteemed Suffolk composer Benjamin Britten and his partner Peter Pears. Built in the late 17th century and extended at various points during the intervening centuries, the red brick farmhouse and its gardens are open to the public.
Walking through the well-preserved 1950s and 60s interior, visitors are provided an intimate view into the way that Britten lived and wrote. From the studio to the library and out into the garden, guests will no doubt find themselves feeling inspired by the house and its surroundings. What’s more, with exhibitions being held over the year, visitors are also treated to something unique whenever they visit the Red House.
2: Kentwell Hall
A majestic stately home situated in Long Melford, Kentwell Hall dates back as far as the Domesday Book of 1086. The backdrop to countless costume dramas and hosting regular Tudor reenactments, it’s difficult to think of anywhere in Suffolk that transports its visitors back in time so effectively. Open to the public, a walk through its portrait-adorned hallways and moat-fringed garden makes for a truly charming experience.
Like many of the historic houses around Suffolk, Kentwell Hall presents a number of events each year for its visitors to get involved in. From open-air cinema screenings to themed days out, it would be no exaggeration to say that this is where history comes to life.
For braver holidaymakers, Kentwell Hall is also home to Scaresville. An annual and experiential Halloween event, it was once voted the best seasonal attraction at the Screamie Awards and is no doubt best reserved for the strong of heart.
3: Clare Ancient House
As the name suggests, the Clare Ancient House is indeed an ancient house located in Clare, the smallest town in Suffolk. A Grade I listed building and recognised as being of national importance, the property is now a museum open to the public.
Believed to have been built during the 14th century, this timber framed house embodies all the charm one would expect from a historic home in Suffolk. Here, visitors have the chance to pore over artefacts dating back as far as 5,000 BC and learn more about the building and town of Clare.
Changing each year, the exhibitions on show at the Clare Ancient House make this an historic house in Suffolk worth returning to time and again.
4: Ickworth House
- A commanding country house found a short drive from Bury St Edmunds, Ickworth House is the total embodiment of history. Adorned with paintings from Gainsborough and with a walled garden dating back to the Tudor period, it’s easy to take a journey through the past.
Its impressive rotunda was originally commissioned by the 4th Earl of Bristol as a place to house all of his riches. Today, visitors to Ickworth House are invited to pore over these various treasures on guided tours.
It’s a fantastic place to take the dog, too. Indeed, the parkland and gardens are also a great choice for anyone who fancies taking a lengthy stroll through the posher side of the Suffolk countryside.
5: Heveningham Hall
Home to a fun-filled annual country fair, a classic car exhibition, and one of the best firework displays in Suffolk, Heveningham Hall is a Grade I Listed building that dates back to the early 18th century.
Equipped with two huge wings, a grand library and drawing room, it’s a quintessential English mansion in every respect.
Though not open to the public in the same way other houses on this list are, should you find yourself visiting Woodfarm Barns around the time that Heveningham Hall is hosting one of its regular events, you won’t want to miss out.
Feeling suitably inspired?