Stowmarket is the largest town in the district of Mid Suffolk with a population of approximately 19,000 and it sits conveniently on the major trunk road of the A14 equidistant between Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds. With excellent rail links to London Liverpool Street (1h 25mins), Cambridge (1h 10mins) and Norwich (35mins), the town is expanding fast with the population predicted to reach in excess of 60,000 within a 10 mile radius by 2015.
In 2011 development work at The Museum of East Anglian Life began, as well as refurbishment work at the new John Peel Centre for Creative Arts. There are also plans to carry out major improvements in the Town Centre with a row of 1960s buildings having been earmarked for demolition to be replaced by modern, large retail units.
A Brief History of Stowmarket
Mentioned in the Doomsday Book in 1086 the town had a population of only 200. The medieval heart of Stowmarket lies around the parish church of St. Peter and St. Mary and in the area leading down to the riverbank. Today the town has 131 buildings listed by the Department of National Heritage as buildings of special architectural or historic interest and one, the parish church, is classified as being of “exceptional interest”. The large Town Centre Conservation Area has a predominance of Georgian architecture within it.
Edward III granted the Town a market charter in July 1347 and the market continues to serve local people every Thursday and Saturday in the Market Place. This popular traditional market is supplemented with monthly Farmers Markets and occasional continental and specialist markets.
Things to do in Stowmarket
Bishop & Miller Auctioneers are one of the region’s leading independent Auctioneers and Valuers. They are always seeking items for auctions, so if you’re sitting on a treasure trove, head down and see them or attend one of their free valuation days. They also offer home visits. Or if you’re looking to buy, visit one of their auctions for an interesting and varied selection of items.
The Museum of East Anglian Life: Stowmarket is home to the Museum of East Anglian Life where you can discover the history and natural world of East Anglia, learn about fascinating East Anglian crafts and traditional Gypsy culture, get steamed up with powerful engines. You can also meet the friendly animals including ‘Major’ the Suffolk Punch Horse as well as rare breeds of cattle and sheep. There are nearly 3km of woodland and riverside nature trails and 15 splendidly restored historic buildings on the beautiful 75 acre site. You can also discover some delicious food and local produce in the new museum cafe.
Helmingham Hall Gardens: Helmingham Hall Gardens see a wide variety visitors, from all over the world visiting the captivating gardens each year. The gardens surround the impressive Tudor moated Hall set in a 400 year old ancient deer park. A visit to the gardens makes a perfect day out for everyone. There is a relaxed atmosphere for people to enjoy the serenity and tranquillity. Most groups take the opportunity to enjoy a delicious lunch or a cream tea in the Coach House and to visit the gift shop, produce and plant stall.
The Regal Cinema/Theatre: The Regal has had an interesting last few years; refurbished in 2007, change of management in 2008, fire damaged in 2009, refurbished again in 2010! It is the only purpose built cinema in Mid Suffolk and has enjoyed increasing attendances in recent years. The refurbishment has seen the building transformed into a classy and pleasant venue in which to enjoy a film or live show and recently hosted two comedy nights as part of the Town’s summer and winter festivals. It also features a comfortable lounge / bar area in which to relax with a drink before or after a show.
Street Entertainment – The market place hosts a number of music acts. Stowmarket Festival was the catalyst for market place entertainment in 2010 and went on to host live music on every Wednesday during August along with an open air cafe.
The Town Centre including Bury Street and the Old Fox Yard: With a unique blend of national and independent retailers the compact Town centre of Stowmarket has much more to offer than you might first think. There is a blend of family run specialist stores and national chains that provide a wide range of products.
Street Markets: Stowmarket hosts a popular street market in the Town Centre every Thursday and Saturday featuring a wide range of stalls selling a variety of products. The market has grown in recent years and the Thursday market in particular is a lively and vibrant place, full of stalls and customers. A Farmers’ Market is held on the first Friday of every month selling locally sourced quality produce.
Visit Stowmarket soon!