A visitors guide to the historic market
town of Stowmarket Suffolk, which lies in the Gipping Valley.
Stowmarket lies equally distant from the towns of Bury St. Edmunds
and Ipswich and is the largest town in Mid Suffolk.
It was the industrial growth of Stowmarket in 1793 with the opening of the
canal to Ipswich, which put Stowmarket firmly on the map. Canal boats and
barges were lifted some 90 feet, through 15 locks over the rivers 17-mile
navigable length. Unfortunately when the canal company went into
liquidation the navigation of this river way ended in 1932.
The medieval heart of Stowmarket lies around the parish church of St.
Peter and St. Mary, which is over 600 years old and the oldest building in
Stowmarket. It was Edward III who granted the town a market charter
in 1347 and markets selling a range of locally produced goods are still
held in the town centre on Thursday and Saturday. There is also a
monthly Farmers Market, which is held on the 1st Friday of every month in
the Barn at the Museum of East Anglian Life. Stowmarket has 131 listed
buildings of special architectural or historic interest and you can pick
up a 'Town Trail' leaflet from the local Tourist Information Office, which
illustrates some of the towns history as well as guiding you around some
of its historical buildings.
The town is surrounded by a rural landscape and many of Suffolks
picturesque villages. There are a number of circular walks and a wide
range of footpaths which take you from the heart of Stowmarket to the
surrounding villages and countryside. They include the Mid-Suffolk
Footpath, a twenty mile long distance path linking the towns of Hoxne with
Stowmarket; the Middy Railway Footpath, which takes you along the route of
the old Mid-Suffolk Railway, finishing at Brockford Railway Museum.
The Gipping Valley Footpath which covers the 17 miles on the old
tow-path. The walk takes take you from the centre of Stowmarket
through Needham Market
, concluding at
the Ipswich Docks. There are also shorter circular walks signposted from
The Open Air Museum of East Anglian Life at Stowmarket covers a 75
acre site. Here you can discover the history and natural world of
East Anglia; learn about East Anglian crafts and traditional Gypsy
culture. There are 3km of woodland and riverside nature trails to be
explored, 15 restored historic buildings to be visited and the museum also
has rare breads of cattle and sheep and Suffolk Punch Horses.
The many different gardens of Helmingham Hall are open to the public from
May to September for two afternoons a week. Its park encloses 400 acres
with herds of both red and fallow deer roaming free.
Stowmarket has a popular shopping centre and benefits from a main line
railway station; an 18 hole Golf Course, which has been designated by the
English Golf Union as a 'Centre of Excellence; a Regal Cinema and Theatre
and a good social scene with many active clubs and groups and two
nightclubs. Its Leisure Centre has three swimming pools, squash, indoor
bowls, football, climbing wall and a Health Club.
Stowmarket hosts many events throughout the year including a Carnival
during the summer months and an annual Traditional Music Day held in