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Do you live in best place in Suffolk & Cambs?

A new survey of the UK's loveliest locales lists five of Suffolk & Cambs towns and villages. So does your neighbourhood make the list?

The Sunday Times has just published its annual Best Places To Live for 2020 and five locations in Suffolk & Cambs made the top 10 of the East category. Well, tell us something we don’t know, right?!

Local knowledge and seeking out the fun stuff is Muddy’s speciality obvs, so here’s our take on those five hotspots, with some suggestions in case you want to go have a nosey once everything is back up and running post-Coronavirus. And, if you’re lucky enough to live in one of the winning locales, let us know what you love about it the best.

Ely, Cambridgeshire

best place to live Ely
Ely Cathedral, The Ship of The Fens

“Ely Cathedral is one of the wonders of eastern England, and if the vision of it rising dramatically above the fens provokes a shiver of awe as you get off the train, imagine the effect when it was built a millennium ago,” says The Sunday Times. But, Ely isn’t just amazing because of its cathedral (although let’s take a second to reflect on how incredible The Ship of The Fens really is!). The streets of the perfectly-sized town is lined with picture-postcard historic houses and cute little squares, it lies on the beautiful River Great Ouse and is also home to one of the oldest schools in the UK, King’s Ely School (read my review here) and fabulous independent shops like The Ely Gin Company.

The Shelfords, Cambridgeshire

Great Shelford

The Sunday Times reviewer wasn’t particularly impressed with central Cambridge, and instead chose The Shelfords, villages just outside Cambs as the best place to live near the university city. They said: “Laid-back village life is just a bike ride from overheated Cambridge. The verdant streets are lined with pretty old houses: a bit of thatch, a few beams, lots of sash windows and yellow brick.” We agree! The Shelfords have that special mix of a village feel, with plenty of amenities, countryside views/ walks on your doorstep and all just a stone’s throw from wonderful Cambridge (yes, Times we still think Cambridge is awesome). Plus one of Muddy’s favourite jewellery brands and LBB member, Eleven Fifteen Jewellery hails from Great Shelford.

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

The Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds

“Beautiful houses, top-class schools, a dash of culture: net result happiness. Bury St Edmunds is almost as uplifting as Armando Iannucci’s new film version of David Copperfield, which was partly shot here last summer…. If only more English towns looked like this.” This was the verdict on Bury St Edmunds and how right they are. Bury is an incredible place to live, with so much history, both big brands and independent shops along the cobbled and winding streets and glorious countryside all around. Plus, it’s not overcrowded or plagued by traffic jams and you don’t need to win the lottery to bag a beautiful house here. Ickworth House Hotel is just outside Bury, if you’re looking for the best place to stay with kids in tow.

Woodbridge, Suffolk

woodbridge Suffolk

“This enchanting town is the last outpost of normality before you hit the highbrow holiday homes of Aldeburgh and the six-figure beach huts of Southwold, aka Hampstead-on-Sea. And yes, we know it’s on the Deben estuary, rather than the coast proper, but there’s still a salty tang in the air, you can go sailing on the water, and the magical evening light can turn a jog along the river into a spiritual experience.” Trying to avoid the eye-watering property prices of Southwold and Aldeburgh… try pretty Woodbridge instead. This town really is a wonderful place to live with independent shops and that seaside vibe. The streets are lined with candy-coloured historic cottages and riverside walks here are some of the nicest in Suffolk. There’s a well-known gastropub in the area too.

Dedham Vale, Suffolk

flatford mill
The Nationals Trust’s Flatford Mill in the Dedham Vale Suffolk/Essex Border

The Times says: “School buses and tractors, rather than hay wains, clog up the roads these days, but there’s still plenty John Constable would recognise in this pretty stretch of countryside on the Essex-Suffolk border. The hedgerows still twitter, the morning mist still rises off the sluggish River Stour and grand old churches still stand proud against the sky.” We say: Dedham Vale might just be the prettiest corner of Suffolk (dare you to differ!). So pretty in fact that John Constable dedicated his paintings to the glorious bucolic views. Living in this area of outstanding natal beauty means all the best bits of country life – long walks along the river, chocolate box cottages, independent shops, – but you’re only a short dive from Suffolk’s beaches, Ipswich and even a main train line into London at Manningtree.

Best places to live in the East

  • Regional winner: Norwich, Norfolk
  • Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
  • Dedham Vale, Suffolk
  • Ely, Cambridgeshire
  • Epping, Essex
  • The Shelfords, Cambridgeshire
  • Ingatestone, Essex
  • Sheringham, Norfolk
  • West Mersea, Essex
  • Woodbridge, Suffolk

See the rest of the list on The Times website.

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