Higham village scene
Higham village scene

The pretty Suffolk village of Higham is really a village in three parts; Lower Green, Middle Green, and Upper Green. All three areas of the village are contained within the Higham estate, owned for many years by the Barclay family.

The village is located at the western edge of the chalk plateau known as High Suffolk and is contained within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are 22 'listed' buildings in the village, all but one of them listed Grade II by English heritage for historic interest.

The one exception is St Mary's Church, with a 13th century west tower and 14th century nave and chancel. Highlights inside St Mary's include medieval poppyhead bench ends and a 15th century timber roof decorated with a fascinating array of wooden corbels depicting grotesque and humorous faces.

The Old Cottage on Lower Street
The Old Cottage on Lower Street

The village name comes from the Old English terms for a high homestead. The village is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and was for many years held by the Dukes of Gloucester. It later passed to the Higham family, then through marriage to the Lewknors.

The first of the Lewknor lords of the manor was Sir Edward Lewknor, who died of smallpox within two days of his wife, Susan Higham, in 1605. When Sir Edward's grandson also died of smallpox in 1634 the Lewknor line died out and Higham passed to Viscount Townsend of Raynham. It was sold twice in the late 18th century before it came to Captain Robert Barclay, and the Barclay family still hold the estate.

Beside the church is Higham Hall, dating to the early 19th century. Behind the Georgian main block is a 17th century range of red brick, and in the front garden is a giant redwood tree.

Swans on the River Brett
Swans on the River Brett

Captain Barclay built a free school in 1833, and his descendent JG Barclay built a British School in 1867. The Barclay family employed most of the villagers, and built estate cottages in Lower Green and Middle Green.

In 1861 JG Barclay hired Sir George Gilbert Scott, one of the most influential church architects in Victorian England, to build St Stephen's church and a vicarage.

On Lower Street is The Old Cottage, a picturesque 16th century thatched and timber-framed house wit a gabled porch. On Upper Street is The Old Post Office, whose name tells of its use as the village post office for many years. The house dates to the 17th century, with timber-framed walls and a tile roof. Another older building is The Old Vicarage on Higham Road. This is another timber-framed house dating to the 16th century.

Pound Farm was the home of artist Cedric Morris, who rented the house from 1929. The owner left the house to Morris in 1932 and it became a beacon for popular artists including sculptor Barbara Hepworth.

Within the parish is Rowley Grove, a nature reserve known for its ancient woodland.

I came to Higham to visit St Mary's church, but soon found myself exploring the entire village, enticed by its picturesque timber-framed buildings.

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About Higham, Suffolk
Address: Higham, Suffolk, England
Attraction Type: Village
Location: On the B1068 5 miles west of Manningtree
Website: Higham, Suffolk
Location map
OS: TM032355
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

Higham, Suffolk, St Mary's Church - 0.2 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Langham, St Mary's Church - 1.2 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Thorington Hall - 1.2 miles (Historic Building) Heritage Rating

Dedham, St Mary's Church - 2.1 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

East Bergholt, St Mary's Church - 2.4 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Boxted, St Peter's Church - 2.5 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Stoke-by-Nayland, St Mary's Church - 3 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Flatford Bridge Cottage - 3.1 miles (Historic Building) Heritage Rating

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Nearest Tourist Information Centre ('as the crow flies')

Visitor Information Centre
Hollytrees Museum
Castle Park
Tel: 01206 282 920
Alternate Tel: 01206 282 828
Fax: 01206 282 924
Email: vic@colchester.gov.uk