Old Town Hall Antique & Collectors Centre
High Street, Needham Market. 01449 720773
A colourful jumble of 40 stalls over two floors, selling everything from vintage hats and costume jewellery to toys and china. The building has a rich history; once a petty sessions courthouse, it has also served as a library, police station and cells.
The Tool Shop
78 High Street, Needham Market. 01449 722992
The tawny glow of wooden implements, along with a giant woodpecker in the window, declare this shop as the leading specialist of antique woodworking tools in Europe. Over 1,500 carving tools tempt, as does a new range of Japanese cooking knives endorsed by Gordon Ramsay.
Alder Carr Farm
Creeting St. Mary. 01449 720820
Hens scuttle as goats bleat a welcome to this farm shop filled with mouth-watering deli treats such as homemade fruit ice-creams. Don’t miss the studios, including the Old Piggery Pottery, where Paddy Peters and Helen Brown produce colourful plates, mugs and dishes in distinctive glazes.
60 High Street, Hadleigh. 01473 822333
Occupying a large slab of Hadleigh’s lovely High Street, Partridges has that reassuring hardware shop smell, the telltale sign that simply everything of necessity, be it bathplug chain, lawn mowing aid, gardening gizmo or garage tool, will be found here. Every high street should have one.
Adnams Wine Cellar & Kitchen Store
73-75 High Street, Hadleigh. 01473 827796
Perhaps a slightly surprising venture from Suffolk brewers Adnams, but this brightly lit, modern shop offers beautifully arranged, quirky, quality, kitchenware alongside distinctive wines and beers.
Lady Lane Industrial Estate, Hadleigh. 01473 828176
This traditional ironwork company has a spacious modern showroom displaying its vast range of curtain poles and decorative ironmongery. Quality home furnishings, from lighting to garden furniture, are also on offer.
Sudbury & Long Melford
Stephen Walters & Sons Ltd
Cornard Road, Sudbury. 01787 466189
On the edge of town, this silk mill (dating back nine generations to a Huguenot artisan in 1720) wove the material for the wedding dresses of Princesses Anne and Diana. The mill shop is packed with rolls of the lushest silks, linens, cashmere and fine wools, some at great prices.
46 Gainsborough Street, Sudbury. 01787 372958
Thomas Gainsborough, master of portraits and landscapes, was born here in 1727. Today, his works hang on the walls of the family home, which boasts a lovely garden, tearoom and gift shop, too.
Cuckoo Flower Home
9 Hall Street, Long Melford. 01787 391008
The elegant linear display of this interiors shop, converted from a former stables, leads from garden space to hall, kitchen and lounge to bedroom. ‘We wanted to create the feeling of a contemporary home in an old building,’ say owners Ann and Owen Roberts. Products include Conran furniture, Biggie Best fabrics and Sibona bedlinen.
Melford Antiques Warehouse
Hall Street, Long Melford. 01787 379638
Rambling over four floors in an old maltings building, 180 dealers display fascinating collections of antiques spanning over 200 years with pretty much all the furniture, paintings, silver, glass and china you could ever want.
The Guildhall of Corpus Christi
Market Place. 01787 247646
Impressively higgledy-piggledy, this 1527 lime-washed timber Guildhall was built to regulate the wool trade and has been the town hall, prison, workhouse and wool store. It now acts as a tiny museum with a courtyard garden, shop and café.
Elizabeth Gash Knitwear
36 Market Place. 01787 248561
Making the most of Lavenham’s ‘woolly’ heritage, Elizabeth sells knitwear from around the British Isles. Look out for chunky jumpers by Sophie’s Wild Woollens of Yorkshire and Lorry Marshall’s knits using yarns from the Scottish borders.
High Street. 01787 247218
Jeni and Tom White preside over this 15th-century house, seven rooms deep, with an ever-changing range of 30 dealers selling anything from antique furniture to jewellery and clothing.
The Rather English Company
16a High Street. 01787 247347
Costume designers and couturiers Dougie and Annabel Hawkes are now enthusiastic tea importers. Their shop also boasts curiously English items such as Dents luggage, gloves, scarves and ties. ‘We made the costumes for A Rather English Marriage and the name just seemed appropriate,’ says Annabel.
The Wildlife Gallery
97 High Street. 01787 248562
A modest shopfront belies a tardis of 20th-century and contemporary wildlife and landscape art, incorporating both paintings and drawings as well as wooden, ceramic and bronze sculptures.
WHERE TO EAT & STAY
The Angel Hotel, Bury St. Edmunds. 01284 714000
The vibrant contemporary paintings and local photography on the walls of the bar and restaurant of this Georgian coaching inn (frequented by Dickens, it’s said) set it apart. The rooms are comfy and elegant, with some overlooking the Abbey Gardens.
The Great House, Lavenham. 01787 247431
Run by a charmingly hospitable French couple, this restaurant with five rooms blends chic décor with a tastebud explosion from the award- winning cuisine.
The Bildeston Crown, Bildeston. 01449 740510
Blazing fires bid you a warm welcome in the two bars, while the popular restaurant serves hearty fare to yums of approval that echo around the timbered walls.
For more information go to visit-suffolk.org.uk