Melton’s history can be traced back to the Doomsday Book of the 11th century, or even the Roman occupation 1,000 years prior. It’s in close proximity to Sutton Hoo (burial site of Redwald, first king of Anglia) one of Suffolk’s key sites of Anglo Saxon heritage.
Melton grew in importance in the 8th century thanks to its association with Queen Etheldreda, later known as Saint Audry, the founder of Ely cathedral. In 1829 St Audry’s Hospital was founded (an asylum). It closed in 1996, but became a grade II listed building in 1985. St Audry’s was the first home of Asylum artist studios, now located at Bentwaters Park down the road in Rendlesham (hence the name Asylum).
The Manor of Melton formerly belonged to the Dean and chapter of Ely. The railway came to Melton in 1859, followed by Melton Fish Bar, and now Solid Haus! Studio and exhibition space of artist Ryan Gander.
Saxmundham is a historic Market Town in the valley of the River Fromus – a tributary of the river Alde. Saxmundham has had a market charter since 1272 right up to the present day, with a market still held every Wednesday – next year it will celebrate its 750 year anniversary.
Many of the buildings in the town are Georgian or Victorian, with some even older ones dating back to Elizabethan times – such as the Monks Cottages, and Angel Yard in the Market Place. Saxmundham today has great access by rail, supplying an excellent touring base (and Waitrose) to the rest of Suffolk coastal.
The Art Station started offering the local community contemporary art installations and an-all ages art education programme in June 2017 with plans to develop Saxmundham station building as a new arts venue. Tragically, in Feb 2018 a devastating fire destroyed the building and they had to go back to the drawing board. The Art Station is now located across the first floor of the amazing 1954 post office building – a new creative space for local artists, makers, co-workers and tech developers.
Lowestoft is Britain’s most easterly town, which started as a small fishing port. The town was the birth place of the composer Benjamin Britten — whose work was often inspired by the Suffolk coastline. Cultural activities continue today in Lowestoft with the Marina theatre, who provide an extensive programme of live entertainment in the centre of Lowestoft; they are the second-largest theatre in Suffolk. The town also features an Award-winning south beach which we will be walking beside on our way to 303 projects.
During the Second World War the town was used as a navigation point by German bombers. As a result, it was the most heavily bombed town per head of population in the UK. Old mines and bombs are still dredged up and have been hazardous to shipping.
Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Lowestoft are combining forces to submit a joint bid to become 2025’s UK City of Culture. If successful, 2025 would see a packed programme of events celebrating the arts, culture and history across the towns and surrounding districts.