Suffolk certainly lives up to its ‘postcard' image of gently rolling countryside and picturesque villages with thatched colour-washed cottages. It is an English county that offers acres of space and tranquillity enjoying a largely unspoiled 45-mile coast, much of it managed for conservation, offering the visitor expansive views, long walks, fine birdwatching and charming seaside villages.
Within this beautiful setting lie some of Britain's finest Medieval small towns; the county is full of original living history as well as a re-constructed Anglo-Saxon village and a whole range of historical re-enactments. There is an unsurpassed heritage spread right across Suffolk, witnessed in its many churches, mills, castles and manor houses, together with museums of agriculture, ships of the sea, transport and archaeology.
The distinctive blend of forest and heath, crumbling coasts and rolling farmland, tiny villages and harbours has inspired both painters and writers to live and work in Suffolk. Two of Britain's greatest painters, John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough, resided in Ipswich for some years producing many of their best pieces. Among the earliest writers living in the county was Jocelin of Brakeland (1155-1202?); born in Bury St Edmunds he became a monk in 1173 and chronicled a typical monk's life in Suffolk - very important to our understanding of medieval life. Sir Henry Rider Haggard (1856-1925) was educated at Ipswich School and bought The Grange at Kessingland 5-years after successful publication of his novel King Solomon's Mines . In 1914 his close friend Rudyard Kipling also worked here. George Orwell (Eric Blair) 1903-50, who took his name from the Suffolk river, lived at Montague House in Southwold during the 1930's.
None of the county's towns are over large and all are steeped in history; the two largest, Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds, are of ancient origin. Ipswich town centre has a well-preserved historic street pattern, parts of which date back to the 7 th century, while Bury St Edmunds in West Suffolk, has a Royal Saxon heritage.
The county does not reveal all of its attractions at first glance, but rewards the unhurried exploration of its secret places, often to be discovered on foot rather than by car.