IPSWICH is described as a town of convenience – good for shopping. It’s also a centre for entertainment, with cinemas, two venues for stage productions, the Regent Theatre and The New Wolsey Theatre, and The Railway in Foxhall Road for live music gigs. To the east, near the well-respected Northgate comprehensive, two-bedroom terrace houses in need of refurbishment can be bought from £75,000; a four-bedroom Victorian terrace for £187,000; detached houses for £250,000 to £500,000. A £350m development has transformed the waterfront into a hip venue where a one-bedroom penthouse might cost £300,000. The prices rise when you get close to a park, especially Christchurch Park where there are private schools. Here a substantial family house will cost £600,000. A restored farmhouse with 100 acres and barns with planning permission on the outskirts could fetch £1.25m.
The Shotley Peninsula, in the tongue of land south of Ipswich, is where the naturalists and yachting types gather. It has the River Orwell to one side, the Stour to the other and oozing mudflats between that attract wildfowl and waders. Stutton is the popular village here, on the Alton Reservoir which is a sailing centre. Shotley Gate, at the tip, provides a vantage point from which to watch the ships ploughing in and out of Harwich.
To the west of Ipswich is Hadleigh, a classic period market town untouched by the deadening hand of the vast supermarkets – Tesco’s repeated planning applications have met with strong opposition. Eight miles from Ipswich, Hadleigh is a model collection of medieval and Georgian houses, and provides everything that a small town should, from wine bars and interior designers to banks and solicitors. A three-bedroom end-of-terrace period cottage here would cost £170,000 to £200,000; a large Georgian town house £665,000. Just two miles beyond it is Kersey, where the price of the houses depends on how desperate people are to buy their fantasy. The hillside, running steeply down to a watersplash, is stacked with remarkable lichen-cloaked half-timbered houses, built 500 years ago on the profits of the cloth industry. A three-bedroom Grade II listed cottage would sell for £440,000. Hollow Trees Farm Shop at Semer nearby is a must for those who want home-reared meat and locally grown vegetables.
To the east is Woodbridge, one of the most sought-after towns in this part of Suffolk. It has its own station and a direct service into Liverpool Street. High-ranking, high-salaried types buy up the 16th-century houses round this old port on the Deben estuary. It is serious boating and foody country. The Loaves and Fishes is a wonderful deli and there is a farmers’ market twice a month. Down the road at Orford you can feast on pacific oysters and fresh fish at the Butley Orford Oysterage brought in by their own boats, and have fish smoked in their own smokehouses. You can buy a three-bedroom, three-storey, Grade II listed terraced cottage a few minutes’ stroll from the River Deben from £200,000. Or you could spend £3.5m on a Georgian country house with six bedrooms, woodland and grounds on the banks of the River Ore. It also has its own highly respected co-educational school (Woodbridge School) and a prep.