Last Updated on March 9, 2023
Two beautiful medieval villages in the heart of Suffolk, perfect for a day out for our holiday cottage guests. Lavenham and Long Melford are full of history and culture, so if you’re interested in those or simply shopping and dining, these places are ideal for you. It’s an excellent day out just half an hour from Woodfarm.
So what are we going to share with you in this episode of our ‘Grand days out’?
- Bridge Farm Barns
- Antiques shopping
- The Swan at Lavenham
- The Black Lion
- Melford Hall – National Trust
- Kentwell Hall
Just half an hour to the South fo Woodfarm and only ten minutes between each other, these have long been a favourite of mine and are also very popular with our guests so I figured it was high time I wrote about them.
The original wool capital, Lavenham is the ideal place to indulge yourself – with award-winning places to eat, superb galleries, shops and boutiques as well as plenty of events to attend. It has been described as the “finest medieval town in England”, making it a real gem.
Long Melford also has a lot to offer – historic buildings, antiques, shopping and excellent restaurants. It’s been attracting visitors and tourists from across the UK since the Tudor times. I wasn’t around then; I’ve just heard that!
We’ve got plenty of ideas and recommendations on the best spots in these villages for you, so have a read!
Bridge Farm Barns
A great stop off to the towns is Bridge Farm Barns, just outside Chelsworth – a unique little shop and tea room. Like an “Aladdin’s Cave”, the shop is filled with extraordinary items including ceramics, preserves, jewellery, cards and local prints. You can also get your hands on a Corn Dolly (if that’s your thing), a handmade art form made from specialist straw.
The restaurant and tea room specialises in delicious homemade food. They welcome visitors for breakfast, morning coffee, lunches and afternoon teas. On Sundays they provide a yummy home-cooked roast dinner for lunch, but my biggest recommendation would be for the tasty Thai Green Curry.
Antique shopping in Lavenham & Long Melford
I’ve lived around the area for many years now and have been to Lavenham & Long Melford more times than I care to remember. A lot of these trips have involved shopping for antiques, many of which now are housed in my Suffolk holiday cottages. There are plenty of shops to choose from in both towns, all independently owned, with many sharing larger premises. You’ll find everything from fine antiques to what I prefer, which is proper old Suffolk farmhouse or country pieces. This old chair (it’s a commode!) in the Granary Barn was from the Antiques Warehouse in Melford. Whether it’s furniture or jewellery, toys or good old nick nacks, you really will find everything here. There are too many shops to list, just go to either town and hunt. They’re easy to find!
The Swan at Lavenham
This is a cosy little spot for afternoon tea. Sit in front of the open fire and get a great sense of medieval history surrounded by a luxurious interior.
Their afternoon teas have an appetising selection of savouries and cakes, with a menu of specialist teas and coffees so there’s something for everyone. Teas include Russian Caravan – a nutty brew, Peppermint Tea, Fruit Infusion, or the traditional Earl Grey. You can even go all out and order a bottle of champers!
You can opt for just a cream tea with a scone or a selection of freshly baked cakes, pastries and finger sandwiches, or go all out with the Emporer Swan Afternoon Tea which has a little bit of everything. Costing £21.95 you may think it’s a little pricey, but the delightful food is certainly worth every penny.
They are more than happy to cater for those with special dietary requirements, e.g. gluten-free. I recommend booking in advance as they are pretty popular!
Local resident (who you may have heard of) Claudia Schiffer stayed at The Swan the night before her wedding. I saw her leave for her nuptials, surrounded by a mass of paps. My daughter and I had a good view from the tea room opposite.
The Black Lion
My old local when I lived over that way. The Black Lion in Long Melford provides breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, all of which is prepared with local and fresh ingredients.
The Traditional Afternoon Tea comes with fruit scones and fruit compote, cornish clotted cream, and a selection of fresh cakes, pastries and finger sandwiches.
To get your mouths watering, their dinner menu includes Gressingham Duck Croquette to start, Cromer crab risotto as a main, and baked cherry and treacle tart to finish. Just thinking about their food is making me hungry!
Book in advance to avoid disappointment, The Black Lion is another popular place to dine and is very dog friendly
Melford Hall – National Trust
Enough of where to eat, now here’s a place to visit! Home of the Hyde Park family, Melford Hall is a stately home built in the 16th century with tonnes of stories – from Beatrix Potter sketches to collections of Tudor paintings and Chinese porcelain, everyone has left their mark. There’s no better way to educate yourself with history than to see the evidence and artefacts for yourself.
The staff and tour guides are excellent in creating imagery in their storytelling and enthusiasm.
Throughout the year they have exciting activities and events to take part in, such as picnics, story readings and walks. Take the Melford Hall Estate mile-long park walk to see the picturesque scenery and beautiful gardens that surround the medieval home.
You can enjoy a cream tea and fresh sandwich and cake or biscuit on the lawn. The gift shop offers a range of gifts, local produce, books, Melford Hall’s storybook, and Beatrix Potter goodies.
It has been referred to as a “hidden gem” and is truly worth a visit.
It’s also home to a great charity music festival and I’ve played there the last three years, which is a great experience. A huge stage with Melford Hall in the background. Here’s me with my band Elephant in the Room in 2015
Kentwell Hall is an ideal place to visit for a great afternoon out. It’s a romantic, red-brick Tudor mansion in a tranquil garden setting. It is a beautiful home that has been lived in for over 500 years. A writer described it over 100 years ago as “a little great house of magical beauty” and many visitors today share that feeling.
Visitors get a tour of the house and gardens, where they can see the rooms that have been lived in by the family. There is also the Rare Breed Farm which has been rebuilt in the 1980s and filled with farm animals.
Visitors can enjoy:
- the brick-paved maze
- the immensely tall pillared Ancient Yews
- the re-installed Icehouse
- the huge Sculpted Cedar Tree
- the Yew Castle
Events at Kentwell Hall run throughout the year, and include costumed events, theatre & opera, and the Halloween themed Scaresville that runs every year. There is an endless amount to see and explore here.
If you’re not all-tea’d-out, enjoy afternoon tea or a light lunch in the Stableyard Tearoom. They have a seasonal menu with produce from the garden and farm, as well as a range of tasty cakes and biscuits.
I do hope you enjoy your day in Lavenham and Long Melford, whether you’re staying in one of our Suffolk holiday cottages or not. If you haven’t experienced this beautiful area and you’d like to come and see what it’s all about for yourself then why not check out our Availability & Prices page and get yourself booked in for a stay here at Woodfarm. Please pass this link on to anyone you think may be interested to read it and check out our other days out too.