Cab­bages and kings

Lind­say Want takes a whim­si­cal cir­cu­lar walk from Long Melford and dis­cov­ers Lewis Car­roll con­nec­tions in the Suf­folk won­der­lands, around the rolling coun­tryscapes of the Glem Val­ley

EADT Suffolk - - Explore -

Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

‘That de­pends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat. ‘I don’t much care where -‘said Alice. ‘Then it doesn’t mat­ter which way you go’, said the Cat.

‘ - so long as I get some­where,’ Alice added as an ex­pla­na­tion.

‘Oh you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.’ ALICE in Won­der­land – Chap­ter 6/ Pig & Pep­per HEY, you’d be as mad as a hat­ter not to give this one a go. Face up to the orig­i­nal ugly Duchess from Alice in Won­der­land in one of Long Melford’s most beau­ti­ful me­dieval build­ings, be­fore head­ing out in the would-be steps of King Edmund to find the great cabbage and beet field worlds of West Suf­folk. Here, hedge holes lead down bizarre tree tun­nels and glo­ri­ous green lanes, past mys­te­ri­ous pools, to the lazy me­an­ders of the River Glem. Dig deep for more tales by Glems­ford’s Monks Hall, look out for mush­rooms and maybe even large blue cater­pil­lars. Ad­mit­tedly, you’re more likely to see a pig take off than an aero­plane in the en­dear­ingly dozy-as-a-dor­mouse vil­lage of Stanstead (with that all-im­por­tant ‘a’), but you’ll be sure to meet Gryphon look-alikes.

When the days are shrink­ing, Suf­folk’s vast skies and special light have a strange Alice-ish way of putting ev­ery­thing into a dif­fer­ent sort of per­spec­tive, mak­ing both sense and non­sense of things at the same time. Spot the Cheshire Cat grin­ning down from the knarls of an­cient oaks. Pon­der why ev­ery dart­ing rab­bit or bustling pheas­ant has some­where else to be. Edge ten­ta­tively past the man­i­cured lawns of Ken­twell Hall, keep­ing a beady eye out for odd games of cro­quet and a can­tan­ker­ous monarch. For even if the weather is a bit ‘bril­lig’ or ‘mimsy’ out there,

noth­ing quite works won­ders like a light­hearted look at the rolling Suf­folk land­scapes just north of the Stour Val­ley, es­pe­cially if there’s a Long Melford café full of cake on the menu, with the prom­ise of a jam tart or two.


near the El­iz­a­bethan red brick wa­ter con­duit and me­dieval Market Cross site on Long Melford Green (at the north of vil­lage - junc­tion A1092/ B1064). Go up Church Walk and, look­ing back, half­tim­bered cot­tages, Ge­or­gian façades and fine Melford Hall seem to grow ever-smaller with the climb. You’ll find El­iz­a­beth, the for­mi­da­ble Duchess (of Nor­folk) purs­ing her lips in­side great Holy Trin­ity church on one of the lower north aisle win­dows. Per­haps John Ten­niel, the Vic­to­rian artist, Punch mag­a­zine car­toon­ist and il­lus­tra­tor of Car­roll’s works, was in­spired by the me­dieval dame when ex­hibit­ing work nearby in Suf­folk street gal­leries.

Don’t miss the ad­ja­cent Lady Chapel with stone carv­ing sim­i­lar to King’s Col­lege Chapel, Cam­bridge, un­der­taken by the king’s ma­son, Regi­nald Ely.

With the church in front of you, turn left down the tar­mac path, through a gate (signed St Edmund Way/Stour Val­ley Path).

Go straight ahead, over a stile onto the wide grassy path be­tween the pad­docks. Ig­nore the foot­path/stile to the right. As the path curves along a hedge to the bot­tom of a pad­dock, it be­comes an up­hill field margin along­side beets or bras­si­cas.

Head through the hedge, over the sleeper bridge to con­tinue on the way­marked path across arable land. Turn left for Glem Val­ley views, con­tin­u­ing down­hill to­wards B1066 at Cran­more Hill.

TURN LEFT onto the B1066 (very briefly) where you find the path (right) lead­ing down­hill again along field margin paths with wiz­ened Cheshire Cat trees to­wards Cran­more Green Lane. Bear right over a foot­bridge into a cop­piced green lane tree tun­nel, where thin wooden sta­lag­mites look to be hang­ing from above, like ici­cles. Be­ware the Jab­ber­wocky, my friend, as the path opens out by a swampy area just be­fore the farm build­ings and lane at Par­son­age Farm.


along Cran­more Green Lane, just past drive­way gates (right), and it’s time to dive through an­other hedge at the foopath sign (right) to en­ter a meadow. Go straight across to the cor­ner, where a lush, green path leads to a bridge over the River Glem, the first main trib­u­tary to meet the River Stour.


is on the right. Fol­low sign­post­ing through its grounds, out of its drive­way onto a farm track. The Domes­day Book makes men­tion of the wa­ter­wheel here and beady eyes can still spot the line of the sluice which once drove Glems­ford corn mill. Turn right along the track, bear­ing left across the beet and bras­si­cas field with views (right) to moated Par­son­age Farm­house. Through a hedge, the path meets an arable field dot­ted with flints like bits of blue and white china. The path crosses it, lead­ing down to the River Glem.


the Stour Val­ley Path at a ditch where par­ties of long-tailed tits swap places in ap­par­ent may­hem amidst the reed mace. Mill Farm is by the river and the road is fur­ther ahead to the right. Turn left, fol­low­ing the Stour Val­ley Path along the 1832 drainage stream with (like it or) Lumpit Wood on the left. When the long dis­tance path veers left up the val­ley side, sim­ply keep on the foot­path straight ahead. As it draws close to the Glem op­po­site Calves Wood, Bi­ble Meadow (right), gifted to the church in the 1800s, pro­vided in­come to buy bi­bles for the poor. St Mary’s Glems­ford soon looms large on the hill (left) and even­tu­ally the deep ochre, half-tim­bered gable-ends of Monks Hall pop up ahead. Al­legedly, a se­cret tun­nel, now all but blocked up, once linked the sites, so monks (or post Re­for­ma­tion mer­chants) could pass un­seen.


the B1065, it’s de­ci­sion time. A short de­tour up to view the other side of the church with its ex­u­ber­ant late me­dieval porch and frontage built on the wealth of lo­cal mer­chants? A quick foray fur­ther to Glems­ford’s half-tim­bered An­gel? It’s tempt­ing to track down this in­dus­tri­ous town-like vil­lage, which pro­duced not only fine silk for El­iz­a­beth II’s coro­na­tion robes, but the largest co­conut mat ever for Lon­don Olympia’s great arena. Al­ter­na­tively go right with care at the road, wind­ing over Scotch­ford Bridge, keep­ing right at the T-junc­tion.


the B1066 with care to take the path (left) up the steps, climb­ing the val­ley side along the edge of Scotch­ford Wood. At the cor­ner of the wood, go across the field to meet a track.


along the fenced-in foot­path round the thick hedge by moated Stanstead Hall to tiny St James’ Church with its im­pos­ing tower. Angli­can cleric, Charles Lutwidge Dodg­son (aka Lewis Car­roll) might well have felt happy here in the homely Vic­to­rian Gothic in­te­rior. The Queen Anne hatch­ment har­bours lions and a uni­corn. Go left, round the end of the church, out of the church­yard to the road, then right down a foot­path be­tween and hid­den by houses, di­rectly be­fore the phone box, to a field. Con­tinue across the field to way­mark­ers in the left cor­ner. Cross the next field to a way­marked hole in the hedge down into Blooms Hall Lane.

The last stretch to­wards Long Melford. All pho­tos: Lind­say Want

Ken­twell Hall

Al­most a Gryphon at Stanstead Hall

The way to Long Melford

Monks Hall, Glems­ford

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