Revealed – The East Anglian destinations on list of best places to live
The best places to live in the UK have been revealed by The Sunday Times – and Woodbridge, Bury St Edmunds and Manningtree have won spots in the eastern top 10.
Bury St Edmunds claims first prize on the list, which names the west Suffolk town the best place to live in the east of England.
Chelmsford and Manningtree are also featured, alongside Woodbridge.
The accolades come ahead of the full reveal of The Sunday Times Best Places to live guide, published on April 14.
It ranks destinations based on a range of factors – from employment, schools, and broadband speed to culture, community spirit and local shops.
We’ve listed some of the reasons why these places have claimed the top spots:
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The Sunday Times panel believes Bury is reinventing itself as a “buzzy cultural hub” – without losing its neighbourly way of life.
Its jazz club and art-house cinema are mentioned, as well as the wide range of artisan coffee roasters, and a bar serving martinis from foraged ingredients.
The town’s choice and quality of schools has seen it re-enter the top 10.
Many nearby state and private schools, such as County Upper and KEGS, have ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ Ofsted ratings.
Judges referred to Charles Dickens’ description of Bury St Edmunds as a “handsome town of thriving and cleanly experience” – and praised its pastel-coloured cottages and gravity-defying timbered houses.
They said the cobbled streets of the market town are a “period drama all of their own”.
Abbey Gardens, next to the town’s cathedral, has scooped several awards for its appearance.
With its sprawling coastline and surrounding mudflats, Manningtree is home to all kinds of wildlife – including a wide range of insects.
Visitors to surrounding nature reserves, such as the Stour Estuary and Cattawade Marshes, can catch a glimpse of wading birds, oystercatchers and lapwings.
Recently, plans were revealed to extend the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to include the Manningtree area.
Manningtree railway station is on the Great Eastern Main Line to London and is just over an hour away from the capital.
The town is also not far from the A12 and A14, and is just under an hour away from London Stansted.
An official claimant for England’s smallest town, Manningtree has a tight-knit community with a regular market and a range of independent shops.
On the fringes of the AONB and just eight miles from the coast, Woodbridge was last year described as having “all the charm of Southwold and Aldeburgh, but it isn’t ‘just for the weekend’”.
Set on the banks of the River Deben, the town is also home to one of the only two working tidemills in Britain.
The Sunday Times judges, who have ranked Woodbridge in the top 10 again for the second year in a row, noted how much of a hit it is with sailing enthusiasts.
Numerous other sports clubs, including those for bowls and watersports, are popular in the area.
The shopping street is packed full of independent shops, selling a range of homemade wares.
Last year’s winner in the east – the city of Chelmsford – has a range of excellent schools, according to the judges.
State primaries such as Beehive Lane Community and good secondaries such as the Sandon School were highlighted in the 2018 entry.
A starter home in Chelmsford will set you back £227,782, while a mid-market property would cost £394,922.
Top-of-the-range homes are slightly more expensive at £632,938, largely due to the city’s proximity to London, which is just over 30 minutes away by train.
Chelmsford’s retail offering has recently expanded, with the revamp of the Bond Street shopping centre and a range of other malls including The Meadows and High Chelmer.
The full list – The Sunday Times Best Places to Live in the east
1. Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
2. Aylsham, Norfolk
3. Bedford, Bedfordshire
4. Blakeney, Norfolk
5. Petersfield, Cambridge
6. Chelmsford, Essex
7. Manningtree, Essex
8. Norwich, Norfolk
9. Saffron Walden, Essex
10. Woodbridge, Suffolk
* The above list is not in order of ranking
• Do you think the top 10 is a true reflection of the best places to live in East Anglia?
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