Why I Love Suffolk: Penny Wilby

Penny Wilby

Penny Wilby - Credit: Nicky West Photography


I’m not native to Suffolk. I’m originally from Shropshire,  and didn’t visit the county until I met my now husband, who introduced me to Adnams and the Suffolk coast. I will always have fond memories of walks along Aldeburgh’s pebbly beach, enjoying a wide range of Adnams beer in one sitting whilst eating undoubtably the best fish and chips in the world. 


As I now live in West Suffolk, the Sudbury Water Meadows, specifically Friars Meadow, are my favourite landmarks. My daughter rows for Sudbury Rowing Club, so I spend a great deal of time both there and enjoying a walk along the valley path. No matter what the weather or what the season, the river always looks beautiful.  


Dunwich Beach. Quieter than its neighbour Aldeburgh, but still just as charming, and the views across to Southwold always put a smile on my face because it means I’m spending time with my family – my favourite thing to do! 


For me, it has to be Sudbury. In my opinion a much underrated place, living in the shadow of Lavenham, Long Melford and Bury. But there’s something very special about our little market town. Whether it’s the silk history (apparently the first US flag was made with Sudbury silk, in Cross St) the links with artist Thomas Gainsborough or myriad independent businesses, Sudbury is somewhere Suffolk should be proud of. The people are some of the kindest, most thoughtful and community focused I’ve met.

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Places to eat 

There are two places that really stand out for me, both in Sudbury; The Secret Garden, on Friars Street. Amazing cuisine and wine, run by lovely people. And a relatively new discovery for me, Alaz, a Turkish restaurant. Their food is delicious, and I’d recommend both restaurants if you’re visiting the town. 


I am a big fan of pubs and an even bigger fan of great beer in pubs. We’re fortunate to have both in abundance. My favourite is The Edwardstone White Horse, a bit off the beaten track and certainly a destination pub, but it has a bucket loads of really interesting beer, a campsite and its own brewery, Little Earth Project. 


The best event, in my opinion is LeeStock, that runs in the ground of Melford Hall each May and I feel honoured to be part of it and watch it grow year on year. Originally started as a small music festival to celebrate the life of Lee Dunford, every year, the festival has got bigger and better. Not only are their great local musicians, but also some well-known bands, like Lightening  Seeds, Scouting for Girls and Goldie Looking Chain.   


I’m a firm supporter of small local businesses. And Suffolk has loads of them. I love Duck in Boots on Gaol Lane in Sudbury, because they support small, local crafters, put on some great kids events (slime making for example) and have loads of lovely little gifts. I also think it’s an innovative business that immediately embraced changes COVID enforced on it- Live facebook sales, virtual markets and they have the actual real father Christmas coming to visit this year. 


It has to be Sudbury silk, sold all over the world, from Michelle Obama’s inauguration dress to Princess Diana’s wedding dress. 

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