A charming market town, Hadleigh has an interesting history. It is one of the first towns in East Anglia that prospered from the cloth/wool industry and is known as one of Suffolk’s ‘Wool Towns’. It has some wonderful architecture, including the fabulous 15th century guildhall and a total of 246 listed buildings.
The town is well known for its pargeting, so when you walk down the High Street, make sure you look up and take note of the front of the buildings.
Hadleigh has a lovely choice of individual shops and boutiques, including the famous Partridges, a hardware shop that has an endlessly extensive range of goods for the home and garden; there are a variety of restaurants, pubs and cafes; a pretty riverside walk and railway walk as well as the really beautiful church/guildhall/deanery tower complex. Make sure you make a short detour off the High Street to see it!
It’s also home to the popular Hadleigh Show in May, one of the oldest country shows in East Anglia and a traditional agricultural show about farming, local produce, crafts and there are lots of shows and demonstrations showcasing the best of what the local area has to offer.
The well know artist Cedric Morris established an art school in Dedham in the 1930s with Arthur Lett-Haines. The East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham, just over the border into Essex, burnt down and a new home for it was found in 1939 at Benton End, a rambling 16th century house and garden on the edge of Hadleigh.
The two men ran a non-traditional art school, allowing students a great deal of freedom of expression and teaching was kept to a minimum. The school became a “powerhouse of art and literature, good food and lively conversation” and poet and writer Ronald Blythe described it as “robust and coarse, and exquisite and tentative all at once. Rough and ready and fine mannered. Also faintly dangerous.” Artists who attended the school include Lucian Freud and Maggi Hambling. The school closed in the 1960s and the house is now a private residence.
Leave yourself plenty of time to look around Hadleigh and the surrounding area, or better still, why not make Hadleigh your base for a short break stay in the area? For further information about the town, please have a look at the Visit Hadleigh website.
Hadleigh lies on the the Cycle South Suffolk route (leaflet available from our tourist information centres) as well as the Hull to Harwich Sustrans cycle route.