Top Historical Sites In Suffolk

Abbey gardens entrance

Last Updated on March 9, 2023

Throughout the 8th largest county by size, there is a huge amount of history to explore and to discover the amazing heritage and legacy that it has left behind. And, you may notice a ‘Cambridgeshire’ entrant here, but its history is so great that it must be mentioned.

Orford Castle

Orford Castle is located in the quiet, former port village of Orford, located next to, but across the water from, Orford Ness. Built in the 12th century by the orders of King Henry II to consolidate his regional powers within East Anglia, it has been described by some as ‘one of the most remarkable keeps’ in England. Compared to other castles, it can be noted that it has a distinctively different, unique shape, with a more polygonal shape to it. The castle holds a spectacular view over Orford Ness and the beautiful rolling hills that surround the castle. 

St Edmundsbury Cathedral – Bury St Edmunds

Suffolk doesn’t host any cities, but it does host 1 cathedral – and that is in Bury St Edmunds. Situated next to the stunning Abbey Gardens is the magnificent St Edmundsbury Cathedral, which towers over the street below and is the main feature in the skyline over the town. The cathedral, which is open to the public, hosts a wide range of different events and exhibitions throughout the year, for everyone to visit, and to have a stroll around the magnificent building, with its stunning architecture. For over 1000 years, different churches were erected where the cathedral now stands, but the cathedral we know today had its nave date back to a church that was built there in 1503. Over time, the cathedral was made even more stunning, by introducing alterations in the 18th and 19th centuries, and, being completed in 2005, a new tower, which is the iconic staple of the Bury skyline.

The Anglo-Saxon archaeological sites

Situated between Mildenhall and Bury St Edmunds, you will find West Stow Anglo-Saxon village and country park. The village has 125 acres of countryside, with nature, history, archaeology and films on to interest everyone, as well as livestock. It is where Anglo-Saxons lived from 420-650 AD, and the reconstructed village now hosts eight recreated buildings for you to explore and look at the history around the culture of how the Anglo-Saxons lived. Secondly, you will find, just outside of the town of Woodbridge, the Sutton Hoo archaeological site. When people say Sutton Hoo, you may think of the famous Anglo-Saxon helmet. The helmet, when it was first found, had been highly corroded away and it took a team an extensive amount of work just to transform it into the helmet we know today. It all started in the summer of 1939, just before World War 2 would break out, and archaeologists found a buried ship with treasures hidden within it – and this is where the story of Sutton Hoo started. Make sure you visit so you can see all the hidden treasures that were below the ground, and to see what Anglo-Saxon treasures they found.

Kentwell Hall – Long Melford

A Tudor mansion, full of over 500 years of rich Tudor history, sounds like a historian’s dream, with fascinating and rich stories throughout its existence. It dates back to the 16th century, when it was built by the Clopton Family who had an extensive amount of wealth, and over time, it has changed hands many times until the present family that owns the hall. However, in 1970, the hall stood neglected and a lot of repairs were needed and someone took it on and this can be seen throughout the interior. The exterior has more or less been left the same since it was built, however, the interior has had a mixture of different eras contributing to the design of the rooms. It is a great day out for all the family to explore the different eras and stories that surround this stunning, grand hall.

Ely – Cambridgeshire

Right, ok, it is Cambridgeshire, but only 4 miles away from the Suffolk border and it is too good not to mention. Before the Fens were drained, Ely used to be a lonely, isolated island, jutting out of the marshland. What some people may not know is Ely’s role in trying to stop the Normans from keeping control of England. After the Normans invaded in 1066, and William gained power across England, pockets of rebellions and revolts popped up across England, and one of the most famous ones came right from Ely. Hereward the Wake, who was an old English thegn (just below the earl in the hierarchy), was unhappy when he returned from exile to see how his land had been given away, so he decided to use Ely as cover, and he joined up with Danish forces. However, after they raided Peterborough Abbey, and they returned to Ely to defend it, the Normans had captured Ely – it is believed that this was because Norman forces bribed the local monks. Now, you can visit Ely Cathedral, which was built in 1083 and is now the principal building in the Diocese of Ely, and it can be viewed from quite a few viewpoints around the area, dominating the skyline of Ely.

With so many other historical sites within Suffolk, it’s time to get out and explore everything else in Suffolk – including the historical sites on this list. To do so from a fantastic base, why not do this when staying at one of our Barns and Barges for rent?