Do you know the meanings behind these Suffolk village signs?

Walberswick's village sign

Walberswick's village sign - Credit: citizenside.com/Peter Bash/Archant Archives

Reported to have the second largest number of village signs in the UK, every corner of Suffolk is full of weird, wonderful and interesting signs. Here are five village and town signs, and what they mean.  

Woolpit's village sign

Woolpit's village sign - Credit: Archant Archives

Woolpit 

The sign on this list with the spookiest of origins, Woolpit’s village sign pays homage to two of the settlement’s most infamous pieces of folklore.  

The sign – which can be found near St Mary’s Church – depicts two children on the left-hand side, and a wolf on the right-hand side, separated by a church. 

The children signify the ‘green children of Woolpit’ - a 12th century legend concerning two green-skinned youngsters who reportedly appeared in the village. The duo was first recorded by Ralph of Coggeshall and William of Newburgh, who noted they would eat nothing but broad beans and spoke in an unknown language. When the girl eventually learned to communicate with the village, she said her and her brother had come from the land of St. Martin – a subterranean world inhabited by other folk of a similar hue.  


You may also want to watch:


The wolf on the sign is a nod to Wlfpeta, the village’s original 10th century name. Old English for wulf-pytt, it translates to ‘pit for trapping wolves’. As the name suggests, wolves would run wild across the county, and pits were dug in order to trap them and stop them harming villagers and their livestock. 

The Thorpeness village sign shows its famous windmill and house in the clouds. The village is in the

Thorpeness village sign - Credit: Getty Images

Thorpeness  

Most Read

Minimalistic yet eye-catching, Thorpeness’ village sign features two of the settlement’s most iconic structures - The House in the Clouds, and the town's white windmill.  

The House in the Clouds, which features on the right-hand side of the village sign, is a 70-foot cladded water tower that has since been converted into holiday accommodation. Built in 1923 by Glencairne Stuart Ogilvie, F. Forbes Glennie and H. G Keep, its façade was chosen to disguise an unsightly water tower that didn’t fit in with the rest of Thorpeness’ architecture. 

Thorpeness Windmill, which features on the left-hand side of the sign, is a Grade II-listed post mill. Originally built as a corn mill, it was moved to Thorpeness in 1923 and converted into a watermill where it pumped water into the House in the Clouds. While the mill no longer pumps water into the House in the Clouds, their pairing has been immortalised on the village sign for future generations.

Lavenham's village sign

Lavenham's village sign - Credit: Tudor Morgan-Owen

Lavenham 

This historic village is home to not just one, but rather two village signs. While there’s a hand-carved wooden pillar sign opposite the Cock Inn, it is the three-sided wrought iron sign that is more recognisable.  

Erected in 2000 to celebrate the millennium, Lavenham’s elaborate village sign features the Corpus Christi Guildhall on one side, the church of St Peter and St Paul's Church on another, and the former World War II American airbase which was situated just north of the village until 1948.

Lea and Philip Newstead from Kent had the missing Walberswick village sign in their garden for 15 ye

Kent couple Lea and Philip Newstead after returning the Walberswick sign to the village - Credit: Archant

Walberswick 

This coastal village’s sign depicts HMS Basing in its centre – a ship that was built locally for Cromwell’s navy in 1654. Renamed HMS Guernsey in 1660, it was later decommissioned in 1693.  

The sign on which the ship is immortalised was erected in 1953, in order to celebrate the Queen’s coronation.  

However, it was stolen in the 1980s – but later returned after Kent couple Lea and Philip Newstead bought it a decade later, not knowing it was sorely missed by the residents of Walberswick. Keen to reunite the village with its sign after it had been sitting as an ornament in their garden, the pair kindly donated it back, where it has since been restored and now sits opposite the church for all to enjoy. 

Beccles' village sign

Beccles' village sign - Credit: Archant

Beccles  

Beccles’ town sign depicts the moment that Queen Elizabeth I presented John Baas, the first Port Reeve of Beccles with the Royal Charter in 1584. This confirmed the settlement’s rights under the monarchy. 

Such an historic event, the town celebrates Beccles Charter Weekend at the beginning of every July.  

Do you have a favourite Suffolk village or town sign that didn’t make the list? Get in touch with danielle.lett@archant.co.uk to share yours. 

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus