05 July 2012
From Lowestoft, the Torch heads along the coast towards Southwold, a traditional seaside town along the Suffolk coast. By the sea are two features synonymous with the town. The first is the historic Southwold Pier, built in 1900 as a landing stage for steamships, and the second is Southwold Lighthouse built in 1887 following the coastal erosion of three other lighthouses in the area. Walk along Southwold’s award-winning beach whilst the Torchbearers pause for an afternoon break and you will encounter both sights along this stretch of coastline.
Towards the evening, the Olympic Torch will wend its way towards Ipswich. Located on the estuary of the River Orwell, Ipswich is a town steeped in history. Not far from the town centre is Sutton Hoo, an area known for its burial mounds, including an Anglo Saxon ship burial. If ancient history is your passion, then why not visit Sutton Hoo and uncover the stories and treasures relating to this important ancient site? Alternatively, pay a visit the Orford Ness National Nature Reserve. The reserve is an interesting ecological habitat with a forbidding historic past. This year a visual and audio installation will allow visitors to engage with the surrounding landscape in both a direct and impressionistic way. A tranquil end to Day 48 of the Torch Relay!
On Day 49, the Torch and its bearers leave the Suffolk coastline for the county of Essex. In the afternoon, the torch will pass through the market town of Rayleigh before briefly pausing at Southend-on-Sea. Rayleigh has roots dating back to the Norman period at which time the town and its occupants were mentioned in the Domesday book. Also mentioned was Rayleigh Castle, one of the earliest Norman castles in England (and one of only a handful mentioned in the Domesday book). This castle was built in the period following the Norman invasion of 1066 by Sweyn of Essex. Whilst the Castle has since been destroyed, visitors can view the remaining motte and bailey mounds on Rayleigh Mount. Adjacent to this site is another interesting historic feature, the Rayleigh Windmill. Rayleigh Windmill is a Grade II listed building built in 1809 and houses an accredited museum, touring exhibitions and a display dedicated to Rayleigh Mount. The Windmill will also be open to the public as the Olympic Torch passes through Rayleigh. Not far from the Windmill stands a Dutch Cottage, an iconic octagonal building on Crown Hill thought to date from the 18th century, whose Dutch style of architecture would be a perfect international link for a Walk the World walk. Be sure to look out for this quaint cottage as the Olympic torch passes near it in the morning of July 6th.
From Rayleigh, the Torch heads towards the coastal town of Hadleigh. The town is best known for the romantic ruins of Hadleigh Castle, which overlook the Essex marshes. Built during the thirteenth century, and fortified by Edward III during the Hundred Years War, the castle is mostly ruins, however visitors can still wander around the site and take in the expanse of marshes from this vantage point.
By the end of the day, the Olympic Flame will reach the city of Chelmsford. On arrival, Torch Relay followers may notice the imposing Hylands House. Built in 1730, Hylands House reflects the varied style and taste of nine different owners. Following a twenty-year restoration programme, the house’s spectacular rooms can be enjoyed in all their splendour. Ascend the Grand Staircase to the Repton Room on the first floor for stunning views across the Hylands Parkland. Chelmsford is also home to the Essex Records Office which gives people a chance to find out about their family history, house history or local history. With seven miles of shelving, there is an extensive range of collections and is the perfect place to go to find out more about local history.
If historic houses aren’t to your liking, then an ideal alternative is Perry Green and the Henry Moore Foundation. A short drive from Saffron Walden to Much Hadham, Perry Green is the former home of Henry Moore. A great escape for art lovers, Perry Green features over 30 monumental works by the artist in the outdoor sculpture grounds. Also on display are exhibition and studio displays featuring Moore’s work as well as his personal art collection which includes works by Renoir and Courbet.
As the day draws to a close, the torch will complete its day in the historic university city of Cambridge. Nestled by the River Cam (which the Olympic Torch will be punting along tomorrow morning), Cambridge is home to world famous architectural sites including the King’s College Chapel and the Bridge of Sighs. Near the town is the family home of Oliver Cromwell, the former Lord Protector. Restored in the manor of a seventeenth century home, the house details life during the civil war through exhibitions, artefacts and period rooms. During World War Two Cambridge became an important military centre and home to an RAF training centre during the conflict. The city’s military history is reflected in the nearby Cambridge American Cemetery. The cemetery commemorates the lives of approximately 9,000 men and women from the American Armed Forces who lost their lives in Britain during World War Two.
Day 51 of the Torch Relay route and the Torch races through the Cambridgeshire countryside towards Bedfordshire. After the Torch Relay afternoon break, the Olympic Flame will pass through the town of Hatfield. On the eastern side of the town lies the unmissable Hatfield House. This Jacobean house has been the home of the Cecil family for 400 years and is currently lived in by the Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury. Hatfield House was first built in 1611 by Robert Cecil and little has changed since. Throughout the house are superb examples of Jacobean craftsmanship, paintings, furniture and tapestries. A visit to the house would not be complete without admiring the rare stained glass window in the private chapel. Towards the end of Sunday the Torch will finish its journey at Luton. Central to Luton is Wardown Park, which contains formal gardens and a pedestrian suspension bridge over the River Lea. The park is also home to Wardown Park Museum, a museum which features a Luton Life and Regimental exhibitions focusing on Luton through the ages.
We hope you enjoyed our journey following the Olympic Flame through the East of England. Join us on Monday as the Torch enters the South East of England and we uncover more historic and natural spots for you to explore.
Post by Katy, Discovering Places team
Thank you to Matt Harwood-White from Rochford District Council for the information and images of the attractions in Rayleigh. And thank you to Anaëlle Ferrand from the American Battle Monuments Commission for the information and images of the Cambridge American Cemetery.
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