Wondering where to go this half-term? Have you thought of Suffolk, a county which has beautiful rolling countryside, a magnificent coastline and more gastropubs than you can shake a stick at? We have visited a number of times with our son and there has always been something to interest him: Southwold Pier was a big hit when he was 10, finding a Jack Wills shop in Aldeburgh ticked the boxes when he was 17. Stately homes, castles, pretty villages and plenty of bracing walks make for a relaxing family break.
To give you an idea of what to see in the county, here’s my suggestions based on our own experiences over the years.
National Trust Sites
A hugely important archaeological site, Sutton Hoo is home to a number of Anglo Saxon burial mounds including a notable ship burial. When they were excavated, many fascinating treasures were found including a superbly preserved helmet which is now housed in the British Museum. Families can visit the burial mounds, discover more about the excavations and see replicas of the buried treasure, plus some originals.
Trish’s Top Tip: If your kids like dressing up, seek out the costumes in the main exhibition room and they can pretend they are Anglo Saxon warriors.
|Things to see at Sutton Hoo|
Acres of parkland to discover on foot or bike plus a huge house to explore, both upstairs and downstairs. Ickworth has a fascinating history to tell, beginning with the eccentric 4th Earl of Bristol who, inspired by his visits to Italy, began the construction of the house we see today, with its extraordinary central Rotunda. The National Trust ensures that the property is family friendly: staff are knowledgeable, children are amply provided for and the atmosphere is decidedly unfussy.
Trish’s Top Tip: Look for the stumpery in the garden: a curious collection of old tree stumps planted to provide a habitat for lots of wildlife.
If you want to show your children the original location of Constable’s famous painting, The Hay Wain, bring them to Flatford Mill on the River Stour and let them take a photo of the same spot nearly 200 years later. There are a number of walks here so bring a picnic and just enjoy the fresh air in an area listed as a place of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Trish’s Top Tip: Don’t miss the Flatford Wildlife Garden, created by the RSPB to give families inspiration for giving nature a helping hand. This half term there are daily events for children including making a mini-beast maisonette and a frog lodge.
|The location of ‘The Hay Wain’|
Where to Stay
If you want to stay somewhere special then why not try the Ickworth Hotel, part of the Luxury Family Hotels group. Located in the East Wing of Ickworth House (see above) the hotel knows what families want. They provide bottle warmers, slings and buggies for babies; a cinema and games room for older children plus there are bikes to hire, a swimming pool, tennis court and a complimentary crèche for two hours a day. Two restaurants: fine dining for adults only in Frederick’s and family dining in The Conservatory from lunchtime onwards, including a children’s high tea served in the cinema. If you’re looking for a little more independence, you can book an apartment in the recently refurbished Lodge. Each apartment has from one to three bedrooms plus a kitchen and even more facilities for children: a big games chest, book cupboard and a garden full of outdoor toys.
We visited the hotel as guests of Luxury Family Hotels. You can read more about our stay on my blog Mum’s Gone To…
|The Lodge, Ickworth Hotel.|
Suffolk really does have plenty to entertain families of all ages. I’ve touched on a few places to visit but there’s also Framlingham Castle, Kentwell Hall, Thetford Forest on the border with Norfolk and even Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park for those needing an adrenalin rush. Plus, wherever you’re based, you will find some great places to eat as many pubs and restaurants are keen to source local ingredients so foodies will be more than satisfied.
Sutton Hoo: Tranmer House, Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge, IP12 3DJ
Ickworth: The Rotunda, Horringer, Bury St Edmunds, IP29 5QE
Flatford: Flatford, East Bergholt, CO7 6UL
Details about the above properties from www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Ickworth Hotel: Horringer, Bury St Edmunds, IP29 5QE www.ickworthotel.co.uk