All Suffolk Archives branches are closed. Please see here for further information

Woodbridge and the forest

From about 2pm the tour weaves its way through Woodbridge, Melton, Bromeswell, Eyke, Rendlesham and Tunstall.


Visit the Tide Mill Living Museum in Woodbridge and discover the history of one of the first and last working tide mills in the country. The earliest record of a tide mill on the site by the River Deben is 1170 when it was owned by the local Augustinian priory. The current mill was built in 1793 and became the last working mill in the 1950s. It finally closed in 1957, however, it was saved and fully restored to working order and is now open to the public. For more information on the tide mill and the opening time of the museum, please visit the museum’s website.


The Melton House of Industry was converted to the Suffolk County Asylum and opened in 1829. Renamed St Audry’s Hospital for Mental Diseases in 1916, it remained open until 1993. Upon the hospital’s closure, objects and archives from the hospital went to the Museum of East Anglian Life, Felixstowe Museum and Suffolk Record Offices. Discover more in an article about the St Audry’s Hospital, Melton (ID407)  collection at Suffolk Record Office and on the St. Audry’s Project website.


Why not explore Bromeswell Nature Reserve or the Grade I St. Edmund’s Church?  Find in St. Edmund’s Church a Norman doorway, 15th century tower and nave, and the Mechlin Bell. Illustrated in Church Bells in Suffolk by John James Raven [1890], the Mechlin bell shows Biblical scenes including the Annunciation, Presentation and the flight from Egypt. It was cast by Cornelis Waghevens in 1530 in Belgium.


All Saints Church in Eyke has 12th century features including the base of the tower which has since been lost. The church is famous for the unique key used to lock it. Dating back to the 15th century, the key’s wards were shaped to make the word IKE, an alternative form of the village name. A reproduction can be seen in the church. The church also holds three brasses. One is in the memory of Reverend Henry Mason dated 1619. The other two are both headless and dated to c.1420 and are thought to represent John de Staverton and his wife.


Rendlesham, has a long and varied history, including Anglo Saxon kings of East Anglia and the UFO incident reported in Rendlesham Forest in 1980. The village also had a country house that has since been lost. Built in 1780, the original Rendlesham Hall was bought by Peter Thellusson, a wealthy banker, whose son became the 1st Baron of Rendlesham. The hall was destroyed by fire in 1830 and was rebuilt using a William Burn design. On the death of Frederick Thellusson, 5th Baron Rendlesham, in 1911, the hall was sold for use as a sanatorium in the 1920s. In the Second World War it was occupied by the British Army. Following the end of the war, the hall was demolished in 1949. Today, Ivy Lodge and Woodbridge Lodge, built in 1790 and which once stood in the Humphrey Repton designed grounds, can still be seen.


Why not explore Tunstall Forest? Mentioned in Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses, the forest is popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders. The Forestry Commission’s website includes information on the forest and its spring and summer harvesting operations. Keen cyclists can take a 10 mile trail through the forest, the ‘Viking Trail’, which has been created by the Forestry Commission.