Walk 6 – Wickhambrook Walk
Walk by Roger Medley
This is the third of a series of local walks being prepared for the Discover Suffolk leaflet. The route sticks mainly to the village centre but includes some countryside stretches, which can be muddy in winter, and four short sections of road. A hi-vis jacket is advised for the latter. The walk heads for the hills to provide pleasing views over local valleys. The area is covered on Explorer Map 210 Newmarket and Haverhill. Total distance is about 3 miles and takes 2 hours at gentle pace.
Park in the Memorial Social Centre car park.
The Centre was built to commemorate the dead of two world wars and after much fund raising was opened in 1951. Irrespective of alterations and extensions, and there have been several, the title ‘memorial’ must always remain. At each Annual General meeting the names of the fallen from the village are read out.
Leave the car park, turning right, and head downhill using the pavement wherever possible. At the crossroads at the bottom continue ahead passing the United Reform church on the left.
‘Dissenting worship’ began in Wickhambrook in 1670 when the Rev. Samuel Cradock came to live at Gesyns. He began unauthorised preaching there on Sundays and it became a Dissenting Academy. Dissenters were barred from studying at Oxford or Cambridge so many influential preachers studied in this village. The 1689 Toleration Act enabled Dissenters to provide themselves with public meeting places. In 1726, the aptly named Thomas Priest came as Pastor to the dissenters and was instrumental in raising money to build the Meeting House that we see today. The building cost £405 and it opened in 1734.
At the top of the hill take the hard surface bridleway on the right. At the end negotiate a dog leg (right and immediately left) to continue ahead and downhill between growing crops. Ignore possible options right and left until reaching a concrete bridge. Cross this and follow the field edge to the right. Turn left in the corner and head uphill towards trees. You will enter a shady corridor which leads to the road. Turn left and soon after passing Coopers Croft take the footpath on the right. This leads across a small meadow, then a stile and into a narrow path between a fence and a hedge and ditch. The church can be seen in the distance. This path opens up to field headland which continues downhill. Enter a second field still with the ditch on the left. Ignore possible turnings to right and left and eventually reach a kissing gate. Enter a regularly trimmed area between hawthorn hedges.
On reaching a gravel track veer left to find another kissing gate and the road. Cross the road and turn right. The Church of All Saints is on the left. This is normally closed but there is a list of key holders in the porch. Full details of the history and what can be viewed in the interior can be found on https://www.bansfieldbenefice.org.uk/wickhambrook/history/
The White House on the right was once an inn and for forty years prior to 1980 it housed the doctor’s surgery. One local used a donkey as his mode of transport and the animal was regularly seen outside while he attended his appointment.
Take the next road on the left and cross the ford. At the junction at the top turn right and follow the pavement to cross Cloak Lane and continue uphill to the School.
Wickhambrook was quite late in acquiring a school as no-one was prepared to give land but one was eventually opened in 1878. The cottage to the left of the school was originally on this site and as it had no foundations it was dragged by horses to the present location. At a Board meeting soon after opening it was decided that ‘all children not belonging to agricultural labourers should pay 4 pence per week’. Major refurbishments took place in the 1960s and the 1990s but the frontage is original.
Take the footpath on the right immediately after the school entrance, veer left after passing the tennis courts and the MSC car park will come into view.
Last walked 14.6.2018
The Wickhambrook W.I. Walking Group meets every Wednesday morning at 10am starting from the MSC car park for walks in the village or slightly further afield. We walk for about two hours and cover about five miles, depending on how much chatting is taking place. There are usually six of us, although we have had a dozen occasionally, dogs are welcome too.