Please, don’t travel to the East of England now. But you can start planning for when it’s safe! When we’re allowed to travel, Know Before You Go – ensure places you want to visit are open, see if you have to pre-book. We’ve supplied click-throughs to attractions for you to check.
Newmarket Home of Racing
Set in rolling countryside on the Suffolk/Cambridgeshire border and home to 3000 horses, Newmarket is rightly considered the birthplace and global centre of thoroughbred horse racing, training and breeding.
Royal connections here stretch back to James I, who had a palace in the town. It was Charles II who popularised horse racing and it’s from his reign that it became known as ‘The Sport of Kings’. Queen Elizabeth II regularly visits the town to see her horses train.
But there doesn’t have to be a race meet on to enjoy Newmarket. Discover Newmarket run a series of fascinating, behind the scenes experiences including guided tours of the famed Gallops and The National Stud or visit the National Horse Racing Museum, housed on the former site of Charles II’s palace and opened by Elizabeth II in 2016.
Royal West Norfolk
For more than 100 years West Norfolk has been the place where the Royal family escape the crowds. Not surprising, as this area has quiet beaches, superb nature reserves and the quiet shores of The Wash.
The gateway to Royal Norfolk, King’s Lynn has more Graded buildings than York, and was one of the country’s most important cities from the 13th century, righty proud of its links with the Hanseatic League. It has many medieval merchants’ homes along cobbled streets and by the atmospheric quays on the River Great Ouse that lead to the North Sea.
Don’t miss the 1683 Custom House, described by Pevsner as ‘one of the most perfect buildings ever built’, and the statue of explorer George Vancouver, the Georgian Hanse House, True’s Yard Museum, the Holy Trinity Guildhall or King’s Lynn Minster. At Lynn Museum discover the story of Seahenge.
The Wash estuary turns to fine beach at Hunstanton, a traditional seaside resort. For nature lovers, don’t miss Snettisham nature reserve with its thousands of waders, the wetlands of Welney, the seal safari and Holme Dunes nature reserve.
Ipswich – Suffolk’s waterfront town
Suffolk’s county town is the oldest Anglo-Saxon town in England, with a rich heritage. Not to be missed is its historic waterfront, now heavily punctuated with restaurants, bars and hotels. From here take a river cruise up the Orwell (which lent its name to author Eric Blair), under the magnificent Orwell Bridge and on to picturesque Shotley Peninsula.
Bury St Edmunds and Beyond
The jewel in the crown of Suffolk, Bury St Edmunds has more than 1000 years of history to explore. Named after the original patron saint of England, visitors will find award-winning restaurants, superb shopping, festivals and lovely parkland.
Crowned King of East Anglia in 855 when he was 14, the later Saint Edmund was captured by the Vikings aged 28 and offered the chance to remain a puppet king if he renounced his Christianity. He refused, so the Danes tied him to a tree, fired arrows at him and chopped his head off.
This and many more amazing things can be learnt on the regular tours of the town.
You’ll discover Bury’s role in the Magna Carta, Britain’s last remaining Regency theatre, Georgian squares, and literary links to Dickens and Shakespeare.
St Edmunds Abbey was one of the richest and largest Benedictine monasteries in the country, but Henry VIII put paid to that. You can visit the Abbey ruins, wondering at Suffolk’s only cathedral, and walk the Abbey Gardens.
Made famous by landscape painters Constable and Gainsborough, Dedham Vale on the Essex-Suffolk border is traditional English lowland landscape, with rolling farmland, grasslands, hedgerows, meadows, woodlands and a rich variety of wildlife.
Essentially still a farming area, the Dedham Vale is punctuated by charming villages and has the picturesque River Stour running through it to its estuary end at Harwich. Look out for the legendary dragon carved into the hillside which can be seen from behind St Stephen’s Chapel in Bures.