Bury St Edmunds via Elmswell
This area is not nearly as popular with London commuters as that served by the fast electric trains to Diss. Both Elmswell and Thurston have grown hugely in recent years, swallowing new houses like packets of sweets. The rail operator’s skip-stop policy means that most trains roar straight through to Bury – the occasional one will stop in the mornings and evenings depending on passenger demand.
Bury St Edmunds could be forgiven for regarding itself as the capital of East Anglia. As atmospheric as Norwich, Cambridge or King’s Lynn, it sits right at the heart of the region on the conjunction of the A14, A143 and A134. On the rail network it stands on the watershed, suspended 28 miles from Cambridge and Ipswich. People travel west via Cambridge, east via Ipswich. A breakfast train direct to London each day and home again in the evening makes things easier. Georgian and medieval houses crowd the centre, and in summer the tourists flock in to see the abbey ruins. The street market opens on Wednesdays and Saturdays. British Sugar has made it the base for one of its major production plants. West Suffolk Hospital is also there, and so is the Greene King brewery. Victorian terrace houses stand in appropriately named streets – Queens Road, Kings Road, Albert Crescent and so on. Two-bedroom versions start at around £150,000. Something more lavish at an address like Home Farm Lane will cost over £395,000.
Three miles to the north is Culford, best known for its mixed day and boarding public school. Four-bedroom modern estate houses sell at £280,000. To the north-west you rapidly enter the Fens, and most people tend to prefer the more undulating landscape to the south. Fornham St Martin, on the northern edge, has recently been relieved by a bypass. Four-bedroom houses skirting the Fornham Park golf course sell at over £335,000. Fornham All Saints is an older village, centred around the church and village green – it also has the Swallow Suffolk Golf and Country Club with a spa and beauty centre. A three-bedroom cottage here might fetch £300,000.
To the south is Horringer (once known as Horningsheath) with a set- piece church and green beside the entrance to Ickworth House (National Trust). The green is framed by neat cottages in plastered timber, flintwork and white brick that sell in an instant. Or there is Cockfield, an extraordinary cluster of hamlets, each with its own green, where a five-bedroom period cottage with three reception rooms might sell for £350,000. A mile away is Great Green, where they have village cricket on summer Sunday afternoons and four-bedroom modern houses costing around £320,000.