Suffolk () is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in East Anglia, England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. The North Sea lies to the east. The county town is Ipswich, at and other important towns include Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds. Felixstowe is one of the largest container ports in Europe.
The county is low-lying with few hills, and is largely wetland habitat and arable land with the wetlands of The Broads in the North. The Suffolk Coast and Heaths are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Suffolk was divided into separate Quarter Sessions divisions. These were originally four in number, reduced to two in 1860: the eastern division being administered from Ipswich and the western from Bury St Edmunds. The two divisions were made separate administrative counties as East Suffolk and West Suffolk under the Local Government Act 1888, with Ipswich becoming a county borough.
Under the Local Government Act 1972, East Suffolk, West Suffolk and Ipswich were merged to form a unified county of Suffolk on April 1, 1974. This was divided into several local government districts: Babergh, Forest Heath, Ipswich, Mid Suffolk, St. Edmundsbury, Suffolk Coastal, Waveney. This also saw a further part of land near Great Yarmouth become part of Norfolk. As introduced into Parliament, the Local Government Bill would have included Newmarket and Haverhill into Cambridgeshire, with it being compensated by the inclusion of Colchester from Essex: these proposals were ultimately decided against.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has referred Ipswich Borough Council's bid to become a new unitary authority to the Boundary Committee. The Boundary Committee will report back by the end of the year.
West Suffolk is, like nearby East Cambridgeshire, renowned for archaeological finds from the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Bronze Age artefacts have been found in the area between Mildenhall and West Row, in Eriswell and in Lakenheath. Many bronze objects, such as swords, spear-heads, arrows, axes, palstaves, knives, daggers, rapiers, armour, decorative equipment (in particular for horses) and fragments of sheet bronze, are entrusted to the Moyse's Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds. Other finds include traces of cremations and barrows.
EconomyThe majority of agriculture in Suffolk is either arable or mixed. Farm sizes vary from anything around 80 acres to over 8,000. Soil types vary from heavy clays through to light sands. Crops grown include winter wheat, winter barley, sugar beet, oil seed rape, winter and spring beans and linseed, although smaller areas of rye and oats can be found in lighter areas along with a variety of vegetables.
This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Suffolk at current basic prices published (pp.240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
- See also: Companies based in Suffolk
Well-known companies in Suffolk are Greene King and Branston Pickle in Bury St Edmunds. Birds Eye have their largest UK factory in Lowestoft, where all their meat products and frozen vegetables come from. Huntley & Palmers biscuit company are now in Sudbury. The UK horse racing industry is based in Newmarket. There are two USAF bases in the west of the county close to the A11. Sizewell B nuclear power station is at Sizewell on the coast near Leiston. Bernard Matthews have some processing units in the county, specifically Holton. Southwold is the home of Adnams Brewery. Felixstowe is an important port. BT has its main research and development facility at Martlesham.
Geology, landscape and ecologyMuch of Suffolk is low-lying on Eocene sand and clays. These rocks are relatively unresistant and on the coast are eroded rapidly. Coastal defences have been used to protect several towns, but several cliff-top houses have been lost to coastal erosion in the past.
The west of the county lies on more resistant Cretaceous Chalk. This chalk is the north-eastern extreme of the Southern England Chalk Formation that stretches from Dorset in the south west to Dover in the south east. The Chalk is less easily eroded so forms the only significant hills in the county. The highest point of the county is Great Wood Hill, the highest point of the Newmarket Ridge, near the village of Rede which reaches 128 m (420 ft).
DemographicsThe Census 2001 Suffolk recorded a population of 668,548. Between 1981 and 2001 the population of the county grew by 13%, with the district of Mid Suffolk growing fastest at 25%. The population growth is due largely to migration rather than natural increase. There is a very low population between the ages of 15 and 29 as the county has few large towns and institutions of higher education, though the 15-to-29 population in Ipswich is average. There is a larger population over the age of 35, and a larger than average retired population.
Most English counties have nicknames for people from that county, such as a Tyke from Yorkshire and a Yellowbelly from Lincolnshire; the traditional nickname for people from Suffolk is 'Suffolk Fair-Maids', or 'Silly Suffolk', referring respectively to the supposed beauty of its female inhabitants in the Middle Ages, and to the long history of Christianity in the county and its many fine churches (from Anglo-Saxon selige, originally meaning holy).
Cities, towns and villagesThe agreed-upon number of established communities in Suffolk varies greatly because of the large number of the all but non-existent hamlets which may consist of just a single farm and a deconsecrated church: remnants of wealthy communities, some dating back to the early days of the Christian era. Suffolk encompasses one of the most ancient regions of the UK: A monastery in Bury St. Edmunds founded in 630AD, plotting of Magna Carta in 1215; the oldest documented structural element of a still inhabited dwelling in Britain found in Clare.
This comparatively recent evidence is but a coda to the widespread settlement in the region shown by earlier archaeological evidence of Mesolithic man as far back as c.7000BC, (Grimes Graves, Norfolk - a 5000 y/o flint mine) with Roman settlements Lakenheath, Long Melford, later Bronze and Saxon settlements. Sutton Hoo: burial ground of the Anglo-Saxon pagan kings of East Anglia.
- For a full list of settlements see the List of places in Suffolk.
Notable people from Suffolk
- See also: People from Suffolk
Suffolk's contributions to sport include Formula 1 magnate Bernie Ecclestone and England footballers Terry Butcher, Kieron Dyer and Matthew Upson. Due to Newmarket being the centre of British horseracing many jockeys have settled in the county, including Lester Piggott and Frankie Dettori.
Significant ecclesiastical figures from Suffolk include former Archbishop of Canterbury, Simon Sudbury, James Duncan, Richard Clark, John Gilhooly, King of East Anglia and Christian martyr St Edmund (after whom the town of Bury St Edmunds is named), Tudor Catholic cardinal Thomas Wolsey, and author, poet and Benedictine monk John Lydgate
Other significant persons from Suffolk include the Suffragette, Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, captain of HMS Beagle, Robert FitzRoy, Witch-finder General Matthew Hopkins and both Britain's first female physician and mayor, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. Charity leader Sue Ryder settled in Suffolk and based her charity in Cavendish.
Primary and SecondarySee also List of schools in Suffolk
Suffolk has a comprehensive education system with fourteen independent schools. Unusually for the UK, most of Suffolk has a 3-tier school system in place with Primary Schools (ages 5-9),Middle Schools (ages 9-13) and Upper Schools (ages 13-16). However, a 2006 Suffolk County Council study has concluded that Suffolk should move to the 2-tier school system used in the majority of the UK. The exception to this is in the Ipswich district and some in the districts of Suffolk Coastal, Mid Suffolk, and Babergh where the more common have 11-16 age schools are in place. All of the county's Upper schools have a sixth form as there are no specific sixth form colleges (though most further education colleges in the county offer A-level courses). In terms of school population, Suffolk's individual schools are large with the Ipswich district with the largest school population and Forest Heath the smallest, with just two schools.
TertiaryUniversity Campus Suffolk, a collaboration between the University of Essex, the University of East Anglia, partner colleges and local government, began accepting its first students in September 2007. The main Ipswich based waterfront campus building is due for completion in September 2008 . Prior to this Suffolk was one of the few English counties not to contain a University campus.
FootballThe county's sole professional football club is Ipswich Town. Formed in 1878, the club were Football League champions in 1961–62, FA Cup winners in 1977–78 and UEFA Cup winners in 1980–81. Ipswich Town currently play in the Football League Championship - the next highest ranked teams in Suffolk are Bury Town and A.F.C. Sudbury of the Isthmian League Division One North.
Horse racingThe town of Newmarket is the is the headquarters of British horseracing - home to the largest cluster of training yards in the country, many key horse racing organisations and Newmarket Racecourse. Point to point racing takes place at Higham and Ampton.
SpeedwaySpeedway racing has been staged in Suffolk since at least the 1950s, following the construction of the Foxhall Stadium, just outside Ipswich, home of the Ipswich Witches. The Witches are currently members of the Speedway Elite League, the UK's top division. Speedway Premier League team Mildenhall Fen Tigers are also from Suffolk.
Suffolk in popular cultureA TV series about a British antiques dealer, Lovejoy, was filmed in various locations in Suffolk. The reality TV Series Space Cadets was filmed in Rendlesham Forest, although the producers pretended to the participants that they were in Russia.
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