County of eastern England.
Area 3,800 sq km/1,467 sq mi
TownsIpswich (administrative headquarters), Aldeburgh, Beccles, Bury St Edmunds, Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Sudbury, Southwold
Physical undulating lowlands in the south and west; flat coastline; rivers Waveney (the boundary with Norfolk), Alde, Deben, Orwell, Stour (the boundary with Essex), Little Ouse; part of the Norfolk Broads
Features Minsmere marshland bird reserve, near Aldeburgh; the Sandlings (heathlands and birds); bloodstock rearing and horse racing at Newmarket; Sutton Hoo (7th-century ship burial); Sizewell B, Britain's first pressurized-water nuclear reactor plant; Aldeburgh Festival, held every June at Snape Maltings
Agriculture cereals (barley, oats, wheat), sugar beet; cattle, sheep, and pig rearing; fishing (for which Lowestoft is the main centre)
Industries agricultural machinery; chemicals; coconut matting; electronics; fertilizers; food processing; motor vehicle components; North Sea oil and gas exploration; printing; telecommunications research; silk; timber; brewing
Population (2001) 668,550
Famous people Benjamin Britten (composer), John Constable (painter), George Crabbe (poet), Thomas Gainsborough (painter), Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (suffragette and medic)
Topography Suffolk is bounded by Norfolk to the north; by Cambridgeshire to the west; by Essex to the south; and by the North Sea to the east. The coastline, which is generally low and regular, has been encroached upon by the sea in places, notably at Dunwich. Lowestoft, Southwold, Aldeburgh, and Felixstowe are seaside resorts. In the extreme northwest, near Mildenhall, is a small area of fenland, and southeast of Mildenhall, at Rede, is the highest point (128 m/420 ft) in the county. Around Brandon is an area known as the Breckland, which was an ancient heath, but is now largely covered in forest or reclaimed for agriculture. Ipswich, Felixstowe, and Lowestoft are ports. The River Orwell is navigable by large vessels as far as Ipswich dock; there is yachting on some rivers. Smaller towns include Bungay, Hadleigh, Halesworth, Haverhill, Saxmundham, Leiston, and Woodbridge.
History remains of prehistoric occupation have been found near Brandon. Suffolk derives its name from settlement by the South Folk in the latter part of the 5th century AD. The county suffered much from the later incursions of the Danes. Walton was the scene of the landing of the Earl of Leicester in 1173 when he marched against Henry II. During the 14th century Suffolk became one of the richest counties in England, based on its wool and cloth production, the latter developing with the influx of Flemish weavers. During the Civil War it was a stronghold of Parliament.
Historic buildings Because Suffolk was settled at an early date and subsequently became prosperous, it is rich in buildings of architectural and historic interest. There are monastic remains at Bury St Edmunds (11th century; Benedictine); Leiston (14th century; Premonstratensian); Butley (1171); Ixworth Priory (12th century; Augustinian); Sibton Abbey (12th century; Cistercian); and Clare Priory (13th century; Austin Friary). There are 12th-century castles at Framlingham and Orford; a Roman fort, known as Burgh Castle, near Great Yarmouth; and fortified manor houses at Mettingham (1342) and Wingfield (1385). The many large churches are frequently ornamented with patterns in flint-work, and over 40 of them have round towers, many of which date from the 12th century. The village of Lavenham is probably unrivalled in Britain in its wealth of medieval buildings. Suffolk also has historic examples of domestic architecture, the earliest being Moyses' Hall, Bury St Edmunds (dating from the 12th century), and Little Wenham Hall (dating from the13th century). Tudor houses include Hengrave Hall, Hengrave, and Melford Hall and Kentwell Hall, Long Melford. Ickworth Hall (5 km/3 mi from Bury St Edmunds) is an 18th-century mansion in the classical style.
Constable, John Dedham Lock and Mill