From the high-tech power generation at Sizewell to the striking ancient ruins of the Abbey, the historic manufacturing town of Leiston harbours some interesting and industrial attractions.
A visit to the Suffolk Coast often contains a staple list of things to do: a visit to Framlingham Castle, Fish and Chips in Aldeburgh, music at Snape Maltings… You get the picture. The popular attractions precede themselves and are often known about prior to arrival. But what about the places in between?
Squished between the charming market town of Saxmundham and the bustling coastal resort of Aldeburgh, the small town of Leiston and the surrounding areas harbour some fantastic and interesting attractions.
Leiston is a stone’s throw away from our luxury self-catering accommodation here at Mollett’s Farm. We wanted to make sure you didn’t miss out on a wonderful town tucked into a corner of coastal Suffolk, so we created a list of some brilliant things to do and see in this relatively undiscovered piece of Suffolk.
The striking ruins of Leiston Abbey can be found standing tall, surrounded by fields on the north-west outskirts of the town. The Abbey was originally founded in 1182 and dedicated to St. Mary. However, the original building was built on unsafe swamp grounds and so in 1363 the Abbey was dismantled and rebuilt in its current location. Leiston Abbey is commonly known as one of the most impressive monastic ruins in Suffolk. You can enter the site through a 16th Century gatehouse with its octagonal brick turret. You will then come across the unusually well-preserved remains of the refectory, abbey church and the crossing tower – which still stands at nearly 14 metres high. The Leiston Abbey ruins are cared for by English Heritage and open all-year during daylight hours. There’s no entry fee and so they are truly a must-see during your visit.
Sizewell B Visitor Centre
Can you feel the power humming beneath your feet? Have you ever wondered how electricity can be generated from splitting an atom, and why steam power is still involved in the process? Sizewell B is the UK’s only Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) and also the most modern nuclear power station in the UK. EDF Energy has a purpose-built visitor centre at Sizewell B designed to educate you on all things energy. You can even enhance your experience by pre-booking a guided tour of the power station itself. The plant tour is a walking tour, mostly outdoors, and is 1.65 miles long. The Sizewell B Visitor Centre is also completely accessible and wheelchair friendly, so discuss your needs when booking the tour itself – they always try to be accommodating. So, don your hard hat and high-visibility jacket and enjoy the experience!
Leiston Film Theatre
If films are your passion then you will love the Leiston Film Theatre! Originally founded in 1914, the Leiston Film Theatre is Suffolk’s oldest surviving purpose-built cinema. It has been continuously trading for over 100 years! Now, just because it had been running for so long, don’t go thinking the theatre is stuck in the past. This versatile venue boasts an extremely comfortable 252 seat auditorium and, don’t worry, it has all the mod cons. There’s a choice of standard, cuddle or premier seating, and this gem features Dolby Digital 7.1 Surround EX sound and the latest in digital projection technology – including the 3D experience. So, what do you fancy watching?
The Long Shop Museum
The Long Shop Museum is an industrial museum dedicated to the history of agricultural machinery manufacturers Richard Garrett and Sons. Leiston is truly proud of its working-class heritage and industrial past and you will really feel this in the atmosphere of The Long Shop. The museum is housed inside one of the remaining parts of Garrett’s Leiston Works, which originally produced steam-powered machines alongside agricultural machinery. The galleries and activities in the museum give a real insight into the heart of Suffolk’s Industrial Revolution. The museum is a great place to spend some time and blow off some steam!
The Parrot & Punchbowl, Aldringham
Speaking of blowing off steam, why not end your day in Leiston with a trip to The Parrot & Punchbowl pub and restaurant in Aldringham. It’s conveniently located on the way back to Mollett’s Farm, so in an ideal spot for a relaxing drink or meal before returning home. The Parrot is a 50-year-old wonky-walled, wooden beamed pub that is simply drenched in history and charm. For those with four-legged friends, the pub is also dog-friendly (as is Mollett’s Farm). The owners’ focus on sourcing all their products from local suppliers means that their food is always really fresh and that includes the beer too – which is from our favourite brewery, Adnams, just up the road in Southwold. Now if that’s not the recipe for a great end to the day we don’t know what is.
So, now that you know more about some of the fun and interesting things to do around Leiston, why not come and join us for a visit? Our Granary Cottages and fully accessible Stables Studios make the perfect home base for a day out exploring. Don’t forget the check out the rest of our blog too for more fantastic things to do on the Suffolk Coast.