A visitors guide to the Market Town of
Hadleigh in Suffolk. Tucked neatly into the valley of the River Brett lies
the old wool and Market Town of Hadleigh, a sleepy village by all
accounts, but with a gentle hum of activity. A place of both historical
and architectural importance, Hadleigh was once considered one of the
richest Suffolk wool cloth towns. The town can trace its history back even
further with evidence of both 1st century and 5th century habitation
Hugging the outskirts of the town and running its full length is a lovely
riverside walk along the babbling River Brett. Houses and cottages cuddle
together in a fascinating higgledy piggledy jumble of different periods.
Old-world images are conjured up by timber framed medieval dwellings many
with lattice windows, pargeting and other forms of ornamentation.
The word Hadleigh is believed to come from the Norse word Haethlega -
which means a heath covered place. In George Street on the edge of town,
evidence was found of a Saxon settlement and the remains or a Roman villa
have also been found.
Hadleigh can lay claim to royal connections, as during the 9th century the
Danish King Guthrum resided here, and is said to be buried in the
churchyard of St. Marys. A further claim to fame was that the town was
once painted by Gainsborough.
Near to the church is the eccentric Deanery Tower which dates from Tudor
times, with ornamental towers rising over 50 feet. It was built
during the late 14th century by the Rector of Hadleigh - Archdeacon
William Pykenham, who intended it as a gatehouse for his mansion house.
Unfortunately William Pykenham died before his dreams of the manor house
could be fulfilled. The intended gatehouse is now a private
The church of St. Mary's is located close to the town centre, built over
many centuries it is considered to be a very fine example with its high
church spire. Overlooking its graveyard is the the wonderful three storied
six hundred year old Guildhall. This timber framed building has worn many
faces over the years. A market house, a cloth hall, workhouse, school,
assembly room, guildhall and even a corset factory. It currently houses
the town council, but tours are available through its venerable interior
between the months of June and September.
There is much of interest in the town of Hadleigh with a plethora of
things to look at and enjoy and many different and interesting walks to
take. Hadleigh is located some 9 miles from Ipswich and under two
miles from the picturesque village of Kersey
It is also on the Cycle South Suffolk route as well as the Hull to Harwich
Sustrans cycle route.
the 16th century
Hadleigh had as its Rector Rowland
Taylor. A very religious man who was exceedingly generous to the poor.
Unfortunately when Tudor Mary ascended the throne the Rector was arrested
and condemned to die. On 9th February 1555 with his nine children looking
on he was taken out to Aldham Common where he was tied to a stake and
burnt to death. A stone in the common marks the spot where he was burned.
George Inn in
the high street was used by a gang
of smugglers during the 18th century. They would plan their devilish deeds
inside its very walls.