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Further up the hill, on your left, is The Bull Hotel, another good spot for refreshment. The original hotel went up in the 16th century and once hosted Daniel Defoe who, when writing of the town, lamented that it was the place from which excellent Suffolk butter was exported throughout the world, he’d rather they kept it to themselves.

Shire Hall, Market Hill, Woodbridge, Suffolk

The hotel has one permanent resident, sort of, George Carlow an 18th century non-conformist who is buried in the former grounds.

Standing in front of the hotel you can see across the street to the Shire Hall. Another historically significant edifice, it was built in 1575 with money donated by Thomas Seckford, probably Woodbridge’s most prominent citizen and benefactor.

Standing in the middle of a triangular market place, the hall originally had an open ground floor that acted as the town’s corn exchange. Climb the curving steps in front of you, on the down-hill-side of the hall, for great views over Woodbridge and the rolling green countryside beyond.

Carry on up the rise, with the Shire Hall on your left, and have a quick look at the coats of arms over the west doorway and the west and east gables, and the strapwork frills redolent of Dutch architecture of the 1600s. Interestingly along with many Dutch immigrants of the 15th century Woodbridge became home to Flemish brewers who after a respectful period produced such good beers that they sold it back to the Belgians.

Suffolk’s brewing tradition is still strong and the Woodbridge Wander takes on a mellow air if you stop and try out the odd ale in the pubs en route. In front of the Shire Hall is a Gothic wheel water-pump and to the right of the market place, facing up the hill, is a violin manufacturer, who can be seen skillfully creating instruments in his shop window during the week or on Saturdays.

Also worth looking out for round the square is the plaque dedicated to Edward Fitzgerald, translator of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.

The Bull Hotel, Woodbridge, Suffolk

WEEKEND WOODBRIDGE: Words Copyright © 2007 Tony Mudd tonymudd.com, Photos Copyright 2005-2007 Top Floor Studio, Woodbridge, & Tony Mudd. 26.2.2007
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