Monday, September 12, 2011

Euston – 3-4 Septembeer 2011

Many London suburbs are also towns around the UK. We live on the edge of Sudbury, which is a much more attractive town in Suffolk. This weekend we set out to explore the other Euston (also in Suffolk), which for us is the London terminus of our trainline.

Saturday was a reprieve on summer, and we enjoyed a glorious day of sunshine, exploring the Suffolk area around Euston. Starting in Bury St Edmund for lunch, we had a stroll through their Abbey gardens, and agreed with the banners proclaiming 'Bury in Bloom'. The flower beds were a riot of colour.

We also visited the Royal Theatre, which is the last Regency Theatre left in England. It was opened in 1819, and was restored a few years ago. Much smaller than current theatres, it was an interesting glimpse into the past.

After Bury, we next stopped at the lovely little town of Woolpit, which has a stunning church, with a 15th century wooden hammer-beam ceiling, liberally decorated in angels with their wings outstretched.

Pakenham was next, with the distinction of two working mills left near the town. A five story windmill and a watermill, where we stopped for tea and homemade grapefruit drizzle-cake made from flour ground on the premises – delicious.

Euston followed, with a range of lovely estate houses. The 'big house' was not open until Sunday, so we planned a repeat visit. Thetford is just up the road, and quite a a pleasant town, which in 1066 (Norman Conquest)was the sixth most important town in England. It is now a town of has-beens.
All that is left of the castle (built at the time William the Conqueror) is the 80ft mound. There were several priories and other church buildings, a picturesque reminder of the nunnery is the three nuns bridges. Henry VIII's reforms of course played their part in reducing this important town to a collection of ruins.

From here on, our circular route took us through the Thetford forest, with lovely areas of heather, which must do well in the very sandy soil..

On Sunday we paid a repeat visit to Helmingham Hall Gardens, as these would have to be one of our favourite discoveries in this country. There is such a timeless tranquillity about the huge Tudor mansion and the Grade I listed gardens, also residing in their own moat.
The gardens appeared to be under the watchful guard of a large bull with enormous horns, who stood steadfastly by the gate. But he appeared to just be bemused by the warm sunshine, and gave no trouble.

Euston Hall finally opened at 2.30pm. It was a surprisingly simple homely house, despite the grand connections of the family who have always owned it. Decended from Charles II, with a Prime Minister, an Admiral who is recognised as inventing the first weather 'station'.
In the archives room, a newspaper article said the family tree read like a Who's Who of England. The tearooms was like stepping back in time too, as a fiver got two cups of tea and two delicious homemade large pieces of cake.

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