Woodbridge, Suffolk

Woodbridge is a town in Suffolk, East Anglia, England, about 8 miles (13 km) from the sea coast. It lies along the River Deben and has a population of about 11,000. The town is served by Woodbridge railway station on the East Suffolk Line. It lies within a short distance of the wider Ipswich urban area. Woodbridge is close to some of the major archaeological sites for the Anglo-Saxon period, one of which includes the Sutton Hoo burial ship. The town's 1100 years of recorded history have bequeathed a variety of historical architecture. There are facilities for boating and for riverside walks.


The harbour, with Woodbridge Tide Mill in the background
Location within Suffolk
Population7,749 (2011 Census)[1]
OS grid referenceTM272491
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtIP12, IP13
Dialling code01394
AmbulanceEast of England
EU ParliamentEast of England
UK Parliament


Woodbridge lies in the East Suffolk district of the shire county of Suffolk. The town council was formed in 1974 as a third-tier successor to the urban district council and has a mayor and sixteen councillors elected for four wards.[2] The town lies in Suffolk Coastal parliamentary constituency and is currently represented by the Conservative Therese Coffey.[3] The county councillor is Liberal Democrat Caroline Page.

History and heritage

Archaeological finds in the area point to habitation from the Neolithic Age (2500–1700 BC). A ritual site was discovered while excavations were being made for the East Anglia Array wind farm at Seven Springs Field.[4]

The area was under Roman occupation for 300 years after Queen Boudica's failed rebellion in AD 59, but there is little evidence of the Romans' presence. After the Roman soldiers were recalled to Rome in AD 410, there was a substantial Anglo-Saxon (Germanic) settlement. It was the Angles who gave East Anglia its name.

In the early 7th century, King Rædwald of East Anglia was Bretwalda, the most powerful king in England. He died around 624 and is probably the king buried at Sutton Hoo, just across the River Deben from Woodbridge. The burial ship is 89 feet (27 m) long, and when its treasures were discovered in 1939, they were the richest ever found on British soil. They are held now in the British Museum in London, but replicas of some items and the story of the finds can be found in the Woodbridge Museum. The National Trust has built a visitor centre on the site.

The earliest record of Woodbridge as such dates from the mid-10th century, when it was acquired by St Aethelwold, Bishop of Winchester, who made it part of the endowment of the monastery that he helped to refound at Ely, Cambridgeshire in 970. The Domesday Book of 1086 describes Woodbridge as part of the Loes Hundred. Much of Woodbridge was granted to the powerful Bigod family, who built the famous castle at Framlingham.

The town has been a centre for boat-building, rope-making and sail-making since the Middle Ages. Edward III and Sir Francis Drake had fighting ships built in Woodbridge.[5] The town suffered in the plague of 1349, but recovered enough, with encouragement from the Canons, and growing general prosperity, to have a new church (now St Mary's, behind the buildings on the south side of Market Hill) constructed with limestone from the Wash and decorated with Thetford flint. By the mid-15th century the Brews family had added a tower and porch.

On 12 October 1534, Prior Henry Bassingbourne confirmed Henry VIII's supremacy over the Church and rejected the incumbent "Roman Bishop". Nonetheless, Woodbridge Priory was dissolved three years later.[6]

As religious unrest continued in the reign of the Roman Catholic Mary Tudor, Alexander Gooch, a weaver of Woodbridge, and Alice Driver of Grundisburgh were burnt for heresy on Rushmere Heath. Alice previously had her ears cut off for likening Queen Mary to Jezebel. The subsequent religious settlement under Elizabeth I helped Woodbridge industries such as weaving, sail-cloth manufacture, rope-making and salt making to prosper, along with the wool trade. The port was enlarged, and shipbuilding and timber trade became very lucrative, so that a customs house was established in 1589.

Around the town there are various buildings from the Tudor, Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras. Woodbridge has a tide mill in working order, one of only two in the UK and among the earliest. The mill first recorded on the site in 1170 was run by the Augustinian canons. In 1536 it passed to King Henry VIII. In 1564, Queen Elizabeth I granted the mill and the priory to Thomas Seckford. In 1577 he founded Woodbridge School and the Seckford Almshouses, for the poor of Woodbridge. Two windmills survive, Buttrum's Mill, and Tricker's Mill. The former is open to the public.[7]

In 1943, the Royal Air Force (RAF) constructed a military airfield east of Woodbridge. During the Cold War, the United States Air Force used RAF Woodbridge as the primary home for two Tactical Fighter Squadrons until 1993.

Woodbridge is twinned with Mussidan in France.

Education and the arts

The town has state and grant-aided primary and secondary education at Farlingaye High School, Woodbridge Primary School, Kyson Primary School, and St Mary's Church of England Voluntarily Aided Primary School.[8] It has a co-educational independent school, Woodbridge School, with junior and senior departments and facilities for boarding.[9]

Woodbridge has a brass band, the Excelsior, which was formed in 1846, making it the oldest community brass band in East Anglia.[10] There is a local radio station.[11] The town also has a well-maintained two-hectare (5 acre) walled park.[12] Also of interest ecologically are the Quaker Burial Ground[13] and Fen Meadow, 2.67 hectares (7 acres) of traditionally managed grassland.[14]

Sport and leisure

Woodbridge has a Non-League football club Woodbridge Town F.C., which plays at Notcutts Park.

There are numerous clubs and associations in the town, including sports clubs for association football, badminton, birdwatching, bowls, cricket, cruising, netball, road running, rowing, rugby football,[15] swimming, tennis, golf (Ufford Park), yachting and archery.[16] They include Deben Rowing Club and Deben Yacht Club.

The town's Deben Leisure Centre and swimming pool underwent refurbishment in 2017–2018. It closed on 31 August 2017, and now provides fuller services since its reopening.[17]

Places of worship

There are two Church of England churches: the medieval St Mary's on Market Hill,[18] and the Victorian St John's on St John's Hill.[19]

Woodbridge Quay Church in Quay Street, once known as the Quay Meeting House, embodies a 2006 merger of the town's Baptist and United Reformed congregations. It is affiliated to the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the Evangelical Alliance.[20] There is a Methodist Church in St John's Street, a Salvation Army hall in New Street,[21] and the Roman Catholic Church of St Thomas of Canterbury in St John's Street. The last forms a joint parish with Framlingham.[22] Avenue Evangelical Church, on the outskirts of Woodbridge, is affiliated to the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches.[23]

Ostensible UFO

The so-called Rendlesham Forest incident took place in nearby Rendlesham Forest in 1980. Unexplained lights were seen in the sky close to RAF Woodbridge, a United States Air Force airfield, and there were claims that a UFO had landed in the forest. The incident continues to interest ufologists and there is debate between those who believe that an alien spacecraft landed there and those who offer alternative explanations.[24]

Notable residents

Writers Edward FitzGerald and Anne Knight were born in Woodbridge, and fellow writer Bernard Barton lived in the town in later life. Other residents of note include musicians Nate James and Charlie Simpson; actors Brian Capron and Nicholas Pandolfi; painter Thomas Churchyard; Director-General of the BBC Ian Jacob; abolitionist John Clarkson; Roy Keane the football manager, and Thomas Seckford, official at the court of Queen Elizabeth I. The clockmaker John Calver lived in the town.[25] Musicians Brian Eno and Brinsley Schwarz were born in the town.[26] The world's most tattooed man, Tom Leppard, was born in the town. Actor Gavin Lee was born in the town, as was footballer Vernon Lewis.


Coat of arms of Woodbridge, Suffolk
Granted 12th May 1975 [27]
On a Wreath Argent and Gules on the Stump of an Oak Tree sprouting proper a Cock Vert head to the dexter in front of a Cock Or head to the sinister both beaked legged combed and wattled Gules.
Per bend Argent and barry wavy Argent and Azure a Bend Gules charged with three Escallops Argent in sinister chief a Rose of the species Rosa Damascena Var Omar Khayyam flowered slipped and leaved proper.
Preservation And Progress

See also


  1. "Town population 2011". Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  2. "About Woodbridge Town Council". Suffolk County Council. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  3. "Election 2010: Results:UK>England>Eastern>Suffolk Coastal". BBC. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  4. Kennedy, Maev (28 June 2018). "Archaeologists stumble on Neolithic ritual site in Suffolk". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  5. Long, Peter (2004). The Hidden Places of England. Traveller Publishing Ltd. p. 514. ISBN 1904434126.
  6. The Abbey (Junior School), Woodbridge, British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  7. Links to English Heritage descriptions: Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  8. "A to Z of schools by village/town". Suffolk County Council. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  9. "Retrieved 20 December 2010". woodbridge.suffolk.sch.uk.
  10. "Home". Home.
  11. "Community Radio for Woodbridge & The Deben Valley. Retrieved 20 December 2010". debenradio.co.uk.
  12. "Retrieved 20 December 2010". onesuffolk.co.uk.
  13. "Retrieved 20 December 2010". onesuffolk.co.uk.
  14. "Retrieved 12 December 2010". onesuffolk.co.uk.
  15. "Home - Woodbridge Rugby Club". Woodbridge Rugby Club.
  16. "Retrieved 20 December 2010". onesuffolk.co.uk.
  17. "Suffolk Coastal's Leisure Centre Redevelopment Programme » East Suffolk". www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  18. Community: Retrieved 20 December 2010. Architecture: Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  19. Community: Retrieved 20 December 2010. Architecture: Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  20. webmaster@woodbridgechurch.org.uk, Michael Astbury-. "Woodbridge Quay Church". www.woodbridgechurch.org.uk.
  21. "Retrieved 20 December 2010". woodbridgesalvationarmy.org.uk.
  22. Community: Retrieved 20 December 2010. Architecture: Retrieved 20 December 2010.
  23. "Avenue Evangelical Church – A Christ-centred, Bible-teaching, Evangelical church in Woodbridge". www.avenueevangelicalchurch.org.uk. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  24. "[女性に襲われたければ風俗へ]". bentwaters.org.
  25. Garfield, Simon (19 October 2016). "Still ticking: The improbable survival of the luxury watch business | Simon Garfield". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  26. Miller, Andy (5 July 2008). "The life and times of Brian Eno". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  27. "Civil Heraldry of England". Robert Young. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
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