Suffolk has a rich history which spans across hundreds of years. Over that time a number of significant buildings, events and people have left their mark on the towns and villages and Woodbridge is no exception.
There have been archeological finds in Woodbridge which date back to the Neolithic Age, however the most famous discovery is that of King Raedwald’s burial ship in Sutton Hoo, which sits across the river from Woodbridge. Potentially one of the most important Anglo Saxon sites in the United Kingdom, many of the pieces discovered in 1939 are now housed in The British Museum and were some of the richest treasures to ever be found in British soil. A National Trust site, you can visit Sutton Hoo to learn all about the discoveries made and see replicas of the treasure.
Woodbridge Tide Mill
Today Woodbridge Tide Mill is a Grade I listed building and is a living museum which demonstrates the water wheel which still turns to grind wholemeal flour. The first recording of the tide mill was a medieval mill in 1170. Operated by the local Augustinian priory in the Middle Ages, the mill was acquired by Henry VIII in 1536 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Both the mill and the former Woodbridge Priory were given to Thomas Seckford by Queen Elizabeth I and the mill continued to pass through various hands until the seventeenth century when the mill was rebuilt and it is this mill which is preserved today. The Tide Mill was one of the few UK mills in operation by the start of the Second World War and when it closed in 1957 it was the last commercially operating mill in Britain. Mrs Jean Gardner purchased the mill in 1968 and a restoration programme was launched and five years later the mill was opened to the public. In 2011 further restoration took place which included a new water wheel and fully restored machinery which allowed it to begin milling again. Today the Tide Mill is managed by Woodbridge Tide Mill Trust and staffed by volunteers. Be sure to pay the Tide Mill a visit, and why not buy a bag of flour to take home with you?
Wickham Market’s millwright, John Whitmore, built Buttrum’s Mill in 1836 and was one of the finest examples of his work. The mill was initially run for many years by the Trott family - for whom the mill was originally built, and was later run by the Buttrum family. The mill worked by wind until 1928, then the shutters were removed from the sails in 1934 and stored inside the mill. In 1937 the mill was bought at auction by Mr Kenney, a mill enthusiast. In the 1940s the fantail blew off and damaged the cap. In 1950 East Suffolk County Council were granted a lease on the mill, with the council aiming to preserve an example of each main type of windmill and restoration was carried out from 1952. The work was finished in 1954 at cost a total of £4,000 - in part funded by the Pilgrim Trust. The work included replacing the wrought iron gallery around the cap with a wooden one, as well as building a new fantail and cap. More damage occurred in 1966 when a gale buffeted the cap, and restoration work was carried out in the late 1970s, with a new cap craned onto the mill in 1982 and new sails fitted in 1984. Now a Grade II listed building, the mill has been restored to working order and the ground floor displays the history and workings of the mill.
This Tudor period house sits in Great Bealings, just outside of Woodbridge. Constructed in the 1530s, the Hall was the family home of Thomas Seckford who was an official in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Ownership of the Hall remained in the hands of the Seckford family until 1673 when it was bequeathed to Seckford Cage before going onto to be sold several times. In 1940 the Hall was purchased by Sir Ralph Harwood who saved the neglected building from a demolition contractor. The Hall was quickly commandeered by the army during the Second World War, and was returned to Harwood who began restoration of the building in 1946. These efforts were carried out through using materials which were rescued from other stately homes and churches. Seckford Hall was acquired by the Bunn family in 1950 and the Hall was converted into a country house and hotel. Said to contain furniture once used in Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, it is said the Hall houses the chair that King Henry VII is said to have died on. Today you can dine, golf, stay and even get married at Seckford Hall, and soak up the history of this wonderful place. Or treat yourself to a spa break and relax in luxury.