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Suffolk Coast Notes

The Suffolk Coast and Heaths on the edge of the North Sea are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The county flower is the oxlip.

Despite its beauty, the area and local people face a number of key issues:

  • Coastal erosion see geology and environment
  • Unemployment, unequal land ownership and low incomes in fishing industry and agiculture
  • Tourism, right to roam and housing
  • Education

Conservative Party and Brexit

Geology and environment

george monbiot article

See also Geology of Suffolk

Suffolk has borders with Norfolk  with the wetlands of the Broads to the north, Cambridgeshire and some hills to the west and Essex to the south.

Much of Suffolk is low-lying, founded on Pleistocene sand and clays. These rocks are relatively unresistant and the coast is eroding rapidly. Coastal defences have been used to protect several towns, but several cliff-top houses have been lost to coastal erosion and others are under threat. The continuing protection of the coastline and the estuaries, including the BlythAlde and Deben, has been, and remains, a matter of considerable discussion.

The coastal strip to the East contains an area of heathland known as “The Sandlings” which runs almost the full length of the coastline. Suffolk is also home to nature reserves, such as the RSPB site at Minsmere, and Trimley Marshes, a wetland under the protection of Suffolk Wildlife Trust.


Growing Up Wild. Memories of growing up in Suffolk from the 1930s.

See Wikipedia: History of Suffolk

West Suffolk, like nearby East Cambridgeshire, is renowned for archaeological finds from the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.

By the fifth century, the Angles (after whom East Anglia and England are named) had established control of the region.  Sutton Hoo, the site of one of England’s most significant Anglo-Saxon archaeological finds, a ship burial containing a collection of treasures including a Sword of State, gold and silver bowls, and jewellery and a lyre.

The Angles later became the “north folk” and the “south folk”, from which developed the names “Norfolk” and “Suffolk”.Suffolk and several adjacent areas became the kingdom of East Anglia, which later merged with Mercia and then Wessex.

From 1860 Suffolk was divided into the eastern division administered from Ipswich and the western from Bury St Edmunds. Under the Local Government Act 1972, East Suffolk, West Suffolk, and Ipswich were merged to form the unified county of Suffolk divided into several local government districts including two coastal districts of Suffolk Coastal, and Waveney. After a decade of discussion, in 2018 it was decided that Waveney and Suffolk Coastal would form a new East Suffolk district and these changes took effect on 1 April 2019.


Historically, the population of Suffolk as a whole has mostly been employed as agricultural workers. An 1835 survey recorded the total population of the county at 296,304. It showed Suffolk to have 4,526 occupiers of land employing labourers, 1,121 occupiers not employing labourers, 33,040 labourers employed in agriculture, 676 employed in manufacture, 18,167 employed in retail trade or handicraft, 2,228 ‘capitalists, bankers etc.’, 5,336 labourers (non-agricultural), 4,940 other males aged over 20, 2,032 male servants and 11,483 female servants.


The economy of Suffolk is dominated by service industries that have grown significantly in recent years.

YearRegional gross value added[fn 1]Agriculture[fn 2]Industry[fn 3]Services[fn 4]

Source Office for National Statistics figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling. See also: Companies based in Suffolk

The county town is Ipswich ( population 133,384 in 2011). Important coastal towns include:

Just inland from the coast:

  •  Bernard Matthews Farms have some processing units in the county, specifically. Issues of avian flu.
  • BT has its main research and development facility at Martlesham Heath.
  • Army bases and defence industry

See also: List of settlements in Suffolk by population 

The majority of agriculture in Suffolk is either arable or mixed. Farm sizes vary from anything around 80 acres (32 hectares) to over 8,000. Soil types vary from heavy clays to light sands. Crops grown include winter wheatwinter barleysugar beetoilseed rape, winter and spring beans and linseed, although smaller areas of rye and oats can be found growing in areas with lighter soils along with a variety of vegetables. The continuing importance of agriculture in the county is reflected in the Suffolk Show, which is held annually in May at Ipswich. Although latterly somewhat changed in nature, this remains primarily an agricultural show.

East anglia fishing


For a full list of settlements see the list of places in Suffolk

According to estimates by the Office for National Statistics, the population of Suffolk in 2014 was 738,512, split almost evenly between males and females. Roughly 22% of the population was aged 65 or older, and 90.84% were “White British”.

The traditional nickname for people from Suffolk is ‘Suffolk Fair-Maids’, or ‘Silly Suffolk’, referring respectively to the supposed beauty of its female inhabitants in the Middle Ages, and to the long history of Christianity in the county and its many fine churches (from Anglo-Saxon selige, originally meaning holy).

Witch-finder General Matthew Hopkins;

The Suffolk dialect is very distinctive. Epenthesis and yod-dropping is common, along with non-conjugation of verbs.


Suffolk has a comprehensive education system with fourteen independent schools. In 2013, a letter said that “…nearly a fifth of the schools inspected were judged inadequate. This is unacceptable and now means that Suffolk has a higher proportion of pupils educated in inadequate schools than both the regional and national averages.”

See also: List of schools in Suffolk

The Royal Hospital School at Holbrook is the largest independent boarding school in Suffolk. Other boarding schools within Suffolk include Culford SchoolFramlingham College, Barnardiston Hall Preparatory School, Saint Felix School and Finborough School.

Sixth form colleges in the county include Lowestoft Sixth Form College and One in Ipswich. Suffolk is home to four further education colleges: Lowestoft CollegeEaston & Otley CollegeSuffolk New College (Ipswich) and West Suffolk College (Bury St Edmunds).

University of Suffolk accepted its first students in 2007. Until then Suffolk was one of only four counties in England which did not have a University campus. It became independent in 2016. The University operates at five sites with its central hub in Ipswich. Others include Lowestoft, Bury St. Edmunds, and Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. The University operates two academic faculties and in 2016/17 had 5,080 students. Some 30% of the student body are classed as mature students and 68% of University students are female.


The county’s sole professional football club is Ipswich Town. Formed in 1878, the club were Football League champions in 1961–62FA Cup winners in 1977–78 and UEFA Cup winners in 1980–81.[53] Ipswich Town currently play in League One, the third tier of English football. The next highest ranked teams in Suffolk are LeistonLowestoft Town and Needham Market, who all participate in the Southern League Premier Division Central, the seventh tier of English football.

Famous people:

See also: People from Suffolk


Painting and sculpture
Gainsborough’s Mr and Mrs Andrews (1748–49), housed at the National Gallery in London, depicts the Suffolk landscape of his time.
Graphic art

Carl Giles (a bronze statue of his character “Grandma” to commemorate this is located in Ipswich town centre)

Poetry and literature

Novels set in Suffolk include:

  • Aldeburgh Festival founded in 1948 by Benjamin Britten, is one of the UK’s major classical music festivals. Originating in Aldeburgh, it has been held at the nearby Snape Maltings since 1967.
  • Since 2006, Henham Park, has been home to the annual Latitude Festival. This mainly open-air festival, which has grown considerably in size and scope, includes popular music, comedy, poetry and literary events.
  • The FolkEast festival is held at Glemham Hall in August and attracts international acoustic, folk and roots musicians whilst also championing local businesses, heritage and crafts. In 2015 it was also home to the first instrumental festival of musical instruments and makers.
  • LeeStock Music Festival has been held in Sudbury.
  • A celebration of the county, “Suffolk Day”, was instigated in 2017.

The Rendlesham Forest Incident is one of the most famous UFO events in England and is sometimes referred to as “Britain’s Roswell“.

TV and film

See also