More of the oldest things in Suffolk - from bakeries to mills
- Credit: John Rushbrook/citizenside.com
We unearth the history of more of the county's most ancient landmarks and places.
Suffolk’s oldest flour mill
Head to Pakenham in the west of the county and there you will find Suffolk’s oldest surviving flour mill. While it is thought a watermill has been in the village for almost 1,000 years, the mill that stands today was built in 1780.
The 17th, 18th and 19th centuries saw the decline of mills across the country – but Pakenham’s remained. This was due in part to its good water supply, machinery and the last two millers who worked there, Bryan Marriage and Walter Hitchcock. Marriage, who bought the mill in 1930, managed to keep it working commercially until 1974.
The mill nearly became a private home, but it was instead purchased by the Suffolk Preservation Society (with the help of a private donor) in 1978, which restored it so it could keep milling flour. To this day, the mill continues to produce flour and welcomes members of the public who wish to visit this historic gem.
Suffolk’s oldest brewery
Established at the end of the 18th century, Mauldons has been brewing beer right here in Suffolk for the best part of 225 years - making it the county’s oldest brewery.
Anna Maria Mauldon first began brewing at Sudbury’s The Bull Hotel in 1795, purchasing a number of pubs and hotels as business thrived before investing in a larger premises in Ballingdon Street.
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At its peak, the historic brewing business consisted of 30 public houses, a wine and spirit business and a small farm before it was sold to Greene King in 1960. Mauldons temporarily ceased brewing before Anna Maria’s great grandson Peter Mauldon decided to revive the business, reopening it in 1982 on the Chilton Industrial Estate.
Peter has since retired, and Mauldons is currently under the watchful eye of Charlie Buckle who bought the brewery in 2019 and carries on the centuries-old tradition of brewing some of the region’s finest ales.
Suffolk’s oldest working lighthouse
With Suffolk’s coastal location, it’s no surprise the county was once home to a number of lighthouses. While many of them have since been decommissioned or demolished, Suffolk’s oldest working lighthouse is Lowestoft lighthouse. Situated near Ness Point – the United Kingdom’s most easterly mainland point – it was built in 1874.
It stands at an impress 16 metres tall, and is 37 metres above sea level. Its light, which has a range of 23 nautical miles, was automated in 1975.
Just under 10 years ago however, this accolade would’ve gone to Orfordness lighthouse. Completed in 1792, it was sadly decommissioned in 2013 and later demolished in 2020 due to coastal erosion.
Suffolk’s oldest surviving sash window
Somewhat of a hidden gem, Newmarket’s National Horse Racing Museum is home to England’s oldest surviving sash window.
The window – which dates all the way back to 1670 – was found in the King’s bedroom within the museum’s Palace House between two walls when the building was being refurbished.
This is the very same window Charles II would have looked out when he stayed in the horseracing town in the 17th century.
Suffolk’s oldest bakery
An impressive feat for any business, Palmers Bakery has continually been in business for just over 150 years – making it the oldest bakery in the county.
Located in Haughley near Stowmarket, the family-run operation has been baking fresh bread for the village every day since 1869.
Speaking to the East Anglian Daily Times in 2013, Kieron Palmer said: “We bought it as a going concern in 1869 but there has been baking on the site since about 1750.
“It was bought by my great-great-grandfather William James Palmer. The business passed to his son William Ewart Gladstone Palmer who developed the business by buying a farm and a mill and property. It passed to my grandfather Roy who died in 1989 and is now run by my father Kenneth and I.”
The bakery celebrated its 150th anniversary back in 2019 with a 2,000-people garden party, with both the Queen and Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill sending their personal congratulations to the family.
On the day, Kieron said: "It was 652 years to the day since a bakehouse was first mentioned in the market place of Haughley in the reign of Edward III.”
Are there any other historic Suffolk monuments that didn’t make the list? Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to share your favourite time-honoured landmarks from across the county.