Living in Stowmarket
What is life like in Stowmarket?
Ever since the late Radio 1 DJ John Peel based himself at a Suffolk estate with his own studio, the picturesque surroundings of the county have been growing more and more appealing to people from all four corners of the UK.
Stowmarket in particular is a great place to live, with a Halifax survey earlier this decade naming it as the place with the highest quality of life of all 114 rural local authorities in the country.
Factors that contribute towards Stowmarket's status as one of the UK's most desirable locations include the higher than average number of hours of sunshine, the larger than normal houses and a longer life expectancy.
With excellent transport links to London and the rest of East Anglia and a quaint riverside setting, it is not hard to see why Stowmarket is so popular. It is close to the famous Suffolk countryside, meaning residents can enjoy outdoor activities throughout the year.
The opening of the canal on the River Gipping in 1793 began a period of economic growth in Stowmarket, as it brought new trade links and business opportunities to the area. The population at this time was around 1,500 and it expanded to 3,000 by 1841.
Stowmarket was one of the UK's major producers of malt and the canal allowed local maltsters to send their products first to Ipswich and then on to London.
In 1846, the railway came to the town and further prosperity was achieved, although it did reduce the demand for the canal.
Some 131 buildings are today listed by the Department of National Heritage as being of special architectural or historic interest. Many of these date back to the medieval period, when the centre of Stowmarket was the area around the parish church of St Peter and St Mary.
Former British long distance runner Sally Eastall was born in Stowmarket, while Ipswich Town FC legend John Wark currently resides in the town.
Entertainment, sport and days out
A great way to spend time in Stowmarket is simply to take a stroll in the surrounding countryside or by the river. Alternatively, the Museum of East Anglian Life is a fascinating place to visit, providing an insight into the history of the region.
The Mid Suffolk Light Railway Museum is another interesting attraction, while the Regal Theatre offers the very best of both screen and stage and is the town's premier entertainment venue.
Stowmarket Golf Club is a favourite among those who love to play 18 holes, and sporty individuals can find even more activities to enjoy at the Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre. This boasts a state-of-the-art climbing facility, two swimming pools, a multi-purpose sports hall, beauty rooms and outdoor tennis courts.
For an enjoyable day out, Stowmarket residents should consider heading to the most beautiful rural areas of Suffolk – a county that is renowned for its magnificent flat landscapes. The Norfolk Broads is only 35 miles away and offers the chance to enjoy eye-catching waterways and boating trips.
Eating, drinking & shopping
There is a good selection of places to eat on offer in Stowmarket, along with a number of traditional country pubs that are perfect for a drink with friends or family on a summer's day. The River Bistro is a particularly pleasant venue for a delicious meal.
The Gardener's Arms, The Ten Bells and The Riverside Club are among the most recommended pubs in the area.
Thornham Hall and Restaurant is another prestigious dining option in the town and well worth a visit. Alternatively, residents might like to eat at The Old Counting House, which serves a range of modern and international dishes.
Shoppers should head to the town centre, where a number of outlets are available, ranging from large nationwide chains to smaller independent stores. M & Co, Yours and the QS Group are just a few of the fashion retailers based in the area.
There is also a farmers' market that takes place each Friday, giving consumers the chance to stock up on tasty local produce.
Schools & healthcare
Although it is only a small town, Stowmarket still offers excellent education opportunities to children of all ages. Stowmarket Middle School and Stowmarket High School are the two major institutions available to residents in the area, while there is another high school in the nearby village of Debenham.
Violet Hill House in the town is home to a health centre, while there are several other surgeries available to local residents. For a large hospital, people in Stowmarket will need to make the short journey to Ipswich.
Stowmarket is located next to the A14, which offers good access to other major towns in the region including Bury St Edmunds, Norwich, Ipswich and Colchester.
The town also has its own train station, with rail services to all destinations around East Anglia running from there. In addition, there is a direct link to London, with trains from Stowmarket running to Liverpool Street station and taking about 90 minutes to complete the journey.