Visit to Long Melford Heritage Centre 9th June 2015
In August last year members of the Foxearth and District Society visited Long Melford Heritage Centre and had a conducted tour of the village from the Village Hall to the Old School. This relatively short walk proved to have so many interesting features that we resolved to re-visit to take in more of this centuries-old, historic settlement ; we did our second tour on 9th June when some 20 people walked another stretch. On a very chilly evening, our most knowledgable guides were- as before- Trudi Jeffs and JulieThomson and we began at the Roman Way Green where the building of the Roman road was explained and the way that the village developed from the roadside stalls that peppered the wide thoroughfare to Bury St Edmunds.The first distinctive building pointed out was Melford Place, home for about 200 years to Sir Roger Martin (1667) and his successors. On the other side of the road was the site of a wooden chapel thought to be the oldest part of the village. A hermit was said to have lived there for some years.
Many of the dwellings along the street are mediaeval in origin being timber framed with Tudor, Georgian and a few Victorian facades and this variety of styles adds great character to the village.
A number of houses are of mediaeval hall house design consisting of a central living area with a buttery or pantry on one side and a space for the animals on the other. Over the years windows took the place of shutters and ceilings were introduced to conserve heat: both words have mediaeval English origins.The village has a field which is a scheduled ancient monument and upon which excavations have revealed evidence of a Roman settlement. The village had many alehouses and maltings - indicative of a thriving residual and passing trade.
Our tour ended at the Co-operative store where our guides told us of the night in 1939 when the store burnt down - not through enemy action but probably some carelessness with stored paraffin. Trudi and Julie produced many old photographs - including one of the Co-op ruin -which showed how the village had changed. We look forward to having the company of these two well-informed and helpful ladies at some time in the future when the middle part of the village will be explored.
by Ken Nice