| See also the Parish
Church and the Town
Trail which points out the buildings and places listed here
plus other interesting features.
Many of the buildings and shops in the High Street and Market Place
date from the Georgian and Victorian period, and some are earlier,
but most are 'disguised' by more recent alterations or shopfronts.
The following sections provide a summary of the most interesting
Market Place and Town pump
Private houses of interest
The present Bell Hotel was built in 1842 on a site which had been
occupied by an inn for centuries. The inn originally had stabling
for 40 horses, six acres of pasture and chaise house.
King George II stopped at the Bell in January 1737. Having landed
at Lowestoft at noon he arrived at The Bell at 7.00 in the evening
where the party halted to change horses. It took another four hours
to reach Ipswich!
The Bell came under new management
in 2002 and underwent large-scale renovations to the public bar,
lounge, restaurant and guest rooms.
The Market Hall is one of the most distinctive buildings in Saxmundham
with its neo-classical facade strangely sandwiched between the Bell
Hotel and the adjoining shops on the west side of the High Street.
The hall was built as a Corn Exchange in 1846 and given to the
town by the Long family who have their coat of arms above the door.
The hall was renovated in the 1930s to commemorate the coronation
of King George VI.
Saxmundham's first market charter was granted in 1272 by King Edward
I to John De Ramsey, Lord of the Manor. There has been a market
in the town ever since, probably in the same location as it is held
Site of former Angel Inn
The oldest building in the Market Place is the former 16th century
Angel Inn. Prior to conversion a small
cobbled yard, with pump horse trough and stables backed onto the
old A12 road. During conversion many interesting features were exposed
and retained, such as the mullioned window under the eaves.
At the southern end of
the Market Place is the 'Old'
Bank House, Saxmundham's first bank built in
the early 19th century by Gurneys the Norfolk quaker family.
The town pump has recently been restored and placed near to the
entrance of the Market Place car park. It was cast by Garrett's
of Leiston and given to the town by William Long in 1838.
The main station building remains the focal point of a complex
of fine Victorian railway, commercial and residential buildings
that served this busy junction and its employees of the East Suffolk
Railway. The station is now home to a café, travel office
and a number of other small businesses.
Saxmundham Station in 2003
Saxmundham Station opened in 1859 serving Ipswich to Lowestoft
and Yarmouth with a branch line to Aldeburgh opened in 1860. Photographs
of about 1900 show a footbridge, large water tank, and 'staggered'
platforms. Saxmundham was an important junction for both recreational
and commercial traffic serving the resorts of Thorpeness and Aldeburgh,
as well as the industrial town of Leiston. From the 1860s until
after WWII, Saxmundham would have handled the majority of Garrett's
output, on its way to some corner of the world. The station is unstaffed
now and the signal box controls the whole line from Westerfield
to Oulton Broad by radio.
David Kersey with JD Bright's clock
Kerseys shop at 23 High Street has
been a clockmakers and jewellers since 1769 when the business was
founded. During the mid 19th century it was owned by J Woolterton
who, as well as being a clock maker and repairer, was the town's
beadle, a kind of forerunner to the local bobby: the beadle stick
still exists and is in the shop today and there are believed to
be several lockups under the shop.
David Kersey, the previous
owner of the shop and keen marathon runner and charity fundraiser,
is the third in a line of Kerseys going back to the 1930s. A clock
by Jerome D Bright, thought to have been made in around 1790, still
stands in the shop. The shop has now been renamed and taken over
by Jackey L and is primarily a Jewellers.
booksellers, printers and stationers shop at 25/27 High Street was
established in 1834, and although still known as Crisps has a new
owner called Gareth White.
started as an Ironmonger in about 1830 at 46 High Street but has
been sold and after extensive refurbishment by the owners of The
Store is now open and definitely worth a visit. Just beyond Wells,
on the site of the Coach and Horses Inn, is the former GPO and Telephone
Exchange completed in 1954 by T F Winterburn, now used solely
as a sorting office and by other businesses.
In the early part of the 19th century, the jeweller and clockmaker
Jerome Bright occupied Ashford House
and it is here that his son Henry Bright, the painter, is said to
have been born in 1810. In about 1840, two of Jerome Bright's daughters
married Isaac and James Ashford who took over the premises and set
up their antiques and furniture making business. The remainder of
the Bright family moved to Park Lodge in South Entrance. The Ashford
family traded there until the 1980s. Flick & Son estate agents
and auctioneers moved to Ashford House in 1983 having been established
in the town for 150 years prior to this.
Private houses of interest
Monks Cottages in South Entrance
Situated in South Entrance, Monks Cottages
are undoubtedly some of the oldest dwellings in Saxmundham and recently
visited by the BBC House Detectives. The outside has panelled pargetting
in a checker pattern, a reproduction probably of the original 17th
century pargetting. The interiors retain many of the original tudor
features including stud work, plaster and horse hair reinforced
walls, inglenook fireplaces, ornate carved oak beams and large oak
Holly Lodge or the 'White House' in
the High Street was built by John Thurlow, builder and stonemason
and father of the sculptor Thomas Thurlow. Chantry
House at the traffic lights was built in 1850 on the site of
a much older house. The Chantry is reputed to have been connected
with the Wingfield and De Pole families. Further elegant Victorian
houses are to be found in Fairfield Road and St John's Road.
About a mile south-east of the town is Hurts
Hall, the seat of the Long family until the 1950s. It was originally
built about 1650 and bought by the Lt Col Charles Long, (1679-1723)
in the early part of the 18th century. The Charles Long (1760-1838)
who became Lord Farnborough was MP successively for Rye, Midhurst
and Haslemer and the monument for him is in Saxmundham Church, although
he did not live in Saxmundham.The Hall was replaced in 1803 and
again in 1893 after a disastrous fire in 1890. According to Nikolaus
Pevsner's 'The Buildings of England: Suffolk' it had the "largest
dovecote in Suffolk, brick, octagonal, with a high-pitched roof
and a glazed lantern." The entrance and driveway to the hall
are in South Entrance, near the main crossroads, while the hall
itself can be seen across 'the layers' as you enter the town from
the south. The contents of Hurts Hall were sold in 1958, the portraits
of all those Longs who had actually owned it were given to the Christchurch
Mansion gallery in Ipswich where they can be seen and the records
of the estates in Suffolk and Jamaica were given to the Suffolk
County Record Office.