The real stars of the 1990s BBC TV series, Lovejoy, were the picturesque medieval villages in Essex and Suffolk. The thatched cottages and timber-framed buildings are bursting with charm and treasure-filled antiques shops. You may not have Lovejoy’s expert eye or his trademark Morris Minor, but an unhurried trundle around his haunts is a great way to unwind – you may even pick up a bargain!
Drive out from the handsome market town of Saffron Walden, itself home to some fine antique shops, and take the B1053 toward Radwinter. You can’t miss the thatched cottages dotting the roadside as you pass through the Sampfords (Great and Little). Continue to the village of Finchingfield, complete with green, duck pond and white-washed windmill. The backdrop to several episodes of Lovejoy, this is a great place for a picnic and a stroll, followed by a pint at the Fox Inn, as seen in the 1992 Lovejoy Christmas special.
1. ELEVEN MILES
Crossing the bridge, follow the B1053 round to the right, passing the Red Lion pub before taking a left turn, signed to Gainsford End and Toppesfield. Keep your eyes peeled for pheasants and deer in surrounding fields, then take a right toward Great Yeldham. When you meet the A1017, turn left before taking the next right, signed to Belchamp St Paul.
After passing the Half Moon Inn, one of Lovejoy’s regular watering holes, take a right at Belchamp Otten toward Belchamp Walter. Go straight on until you see a sign for a right turn toward Belchamp Hall, the grand country pile that doubled as the home of Lovejoy character, Lady Jane Felsham. In the grounds, 100m up the road, you can see the round-windowed outhouse that became Lovejoy’s workshop. The church across the road features some fascinating medieval wall paintings.
2. TWENTY THREE MILES
From Belchamp St Paul, follow the road in the direction from which you came, signed to Borley, until you meet the B1064; take a right. You’ll soon be at Long Melford, another of Lovejoy’s favourite antique-hunting grounds. Explore the antiques shops but don’t miss the church, with its ornate stained-glass windows. Take a break in the Bull Hotel, built in 1450, on Hall Street. From here head north, straight through the village, before taking a left on to the A134.
3. THIRTY FOUR MILES
After a couple of miles, go right onto Bridge Street Road, which meanders all the way to Lavenham, one of the most picturesque medieval towns in Suffolk. The tumble-down, half- timbered houses provided the backdrop for several episodes.
Don’t miss The Timbers, an Aladdin’s cave of antiques, and the Guildhall in the Market Square. Quench your thirst in The Swan pub or the Tickled Pink Tea Rooms, both on High Street. Follow the A1141 until you take a right back onto the A134, which takes you to Bury St Edmunds. Finish at the car park in the shadow
of the ruined Abbey.
Well surfaced A- and single-track roads.
HOW TO GET THERE
By car: From London follow the M11 north, leave at junction 9 and follow signs to Saffron Walden. From Cambridge follow
the M11 south, leave at junction 9 and follow signs to Saffron Walden.
The Fox Inn
Finchingfield, Braintree, Essex CM7 4JX
☎ 01371 810151
Hall Street, Long Melford, Suffolk CO10 9JG
☎ 01787 378494
The Half Moon
Belchamp St Paul, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 7DP
☎ 01787 277402
Ordnance Survey Landranger Maps 154 and 155.
Grid ref: TL 545 385
Ickworth House and Gardens
The Rotunda, Horringer, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP29 5QE
☎ 01284 735270
Long Melford, Suffolk
☎ 01787 310207