Suffolk Day is on the horizon (21st of June) – celebrating everything that is exceptional about our beautiful county. Here James Lightfoot, chairman of Choose Woodbridge, explores some of the historical secrets that make Woodbridge particularly special.
In medieval times bread was the main staple food of people both rich and poor. But it is almost impossible to find a 100% definitive recipe that has been passed down directly from that period. Unless you live in Woodbridge of course.
Here, under lock and key at the Cake Shop Bakery in Woodbridge, is a genuine medieval recipe for a Trencher Loaf – a flat loaf of bread that were cut in half and used as plates during feasts.
Owner Peter Wright said: “The recipe refers to ingredients we don’t use these days but we have adapted it with the help of historians at the Saxon Trust to create a Suffolk Trencher using modern substitutes and we sell this in the shop.”
A wealth of history
The ancient history of Woodbridge was highlighted at a recent Festival dedicated to the epic poem Beowulf , which historians linked to the town .The description of the funeral and treasures in the poem match those of the burial ship at Sutton Hoo (immediately across the river Deben).
Woodbridge’s link to the ship is now further cemented with the project to build a 90ft replica. The Woodbridge Riverside Trust have taken on the Longshed, a building by the Tide Mill to work on – and house – a replica.
Bryan Knibbs, executive chairman of the trust, said: “We have started (in traditional construction) the first St Ayles skiff – a light rowing boat – and have built the frame. Work on building the replica could start in September.”
Music to our ears
Woodbridge is home to one of to one of the most respected music shops in the UK.
Woodbridge Violins is run by Russell Stowe, who has worked with some of the country’s most respected musicians.
One of his most memorable projects was restoring a violin made by a German soldier at a prisoner of war camp.
The instrument was crafted at High Garret in Braintree, which held German and Italian prisoners during World War Two.
Inside was inscribed “Hergestellt in Englischer fangenschaft” – Made in English captivity.
Russell said: “It had got the touch of somebody who knew what they were doing and may have been a violin maker before the war started.”
Among the many independent shops in Woodbridge is a bookshop which has been picked to sell signed copies of books by Kevin-Crossley Holland the famous children’s Author and translator of Beowulf.
Jules Button, who runs the store said: “Independent retailers have had to think about what makes their shop unique and capitalise on the things they offer that online retailers can’t.
“Woodbridge is full of gems like this.”
Woodbridge also has numerous family runs shops that take particular pride in their products. “Come and see for yourself” says James Lightfoot.