Rachel's Weekend Visits
Stradbroke village sign
By Rachel Sloane
The village of Stradbroke is close to the border between Suffolk and Norfolk, sitting on the crossroads on the B1117 and the B1118.
With a cluster of attractive shops, a war memorial, and a colourful village sign depicting Bishop Grosseteste, who was Stradbroke's most famous son, it is a village definitely worth stopping the car for. Born in the village to a poor family, in 1180 Bishop Grosseteste went on to become Bishop of Lincoln and one of the most significant figures of his age.
The three dimensional sculpture was designed by a local artist, Frank Ward and was carved locally too.
There's plenty going on in Stradbroke
With a population of around 1250, Stradbroke has a village hall, schools and pubs, and I was impressed that the village also has an indoor swimming pool and sports centre.
As local resident, Mike Reedman, explained to me: "Stradboke is a hub. It serves a lot of hamlets all around which is why the secondary school was put here in the 1970's.
"Once you have a hub you tend to have other things placed here. So when it came to deciding where the swimming pool should go, Stradbroke was the obvious place."
Over a coffee at the Ivy House Restaurant and Pub, Mike Reedman and James Hargrave told me more about the village and its many clubs, societies and events. The village website is aiming to be the focal point that brings them all together.
A few years ago Stradbroke was fortunate to be included in a Government scheme bringing computing to rurally deprived areas. As a result over 100 computers (and training) was given free of charge to those who needed them, and that was the kick-start for the villagers' interest in computers and communication.
Now that broadband is in the area, the website has developed to include Stradbroke TV, which films at events in the village such as the annual Jazz festival – and my visit to the farmers market!
If you visit their website you can see Stradbroke TV filming me at the market recording for my programme – as I am caught sampling the goods!
Stradbroke Farmers Market
On the first Saturday of every month at BBC Radio Suffolk the presenters give out the details of a farmers market with a difference. Rather than being held in a village hall or community centre, the Farmers Market at Stradbroke is held at the Business and Enterprise College.
The high school is the smallest in the county with just 370 students and as part of its special school status, the students themselves have to run businesses, to gain experience of the world of enterprise at first hand.
Need business cards? They can design and print them for you. Want to do your bit for the environment? They can sell you low energy light bulbs at very reasonable rates.
Have a dishwasher? They bulk buy dishwasher salt and sell it on in storable sized portions.
The biggest undertaking so far though, has been the market. Stall holders include local market gardeners and farmers, a jewellery maker, cake baker as well as a few specialists from further a field – such as the butchers who come each month from Darrow Green Farm, Harleston in Norfolk.
The high quality fruit, vegetables, preserves, meat, produce and plants sold at the market are rightly proving popular with local shoppers.
Laurie, Wally, Liam and Ashley
Weren't the businesses worried about getting involved with a market run by students? Maybe initially, but, as teacher, Laurie Hammond told me, the fact that they have all stayed with the project since it began seventeen months ago, and there are new ones joining, is the proof that the market team of students, Liam Pretty, Wally Oliver, Ashley Leach and Zara Plows, are doing a good job.
Mind you, the lure of the expertly cooked bacon butties and croissants, cooked by the students and sold over the counter to stallholders and shoppers, may also have something to do with it too!
As I have already mentioned, the village is situated right on the main road, and is overlooked by the landmark church of All Saints and its 100 foot tower. The 15th century church is led by Rev David Streeter, who recently celebrated 25 years as parish priest and is proud that he is about to baptise the son of one of his original youth club members.
All Saints Church and war memorial
The church also has a Friends of All Saints committee and the chairman, Roger Turkington, told me about the £20,000 fundraising target that has just been achieved via musical evenings, parties, film shows and more original events: "Someone on the community council came up with the idea of sponsoring a slate.
"Two years ago we stood outside in February when it was snowing and sold slates at £5 a time. People were able to put their names on the back – or write a commemorative piece to a loved one.
Rev David Streeter and Roger Turkington
"They've all gone back on the roof and hopefully in a few hundred years' times somebody will find my name, along with 200 or so others up there."
In the meantime the inscriptions have been copied and can be read in a special commemorative book.
The committee of Friends is made up of worshippers and non-worshippers. Why do they get involved if they are not practising Christians?
"We value the building and it is a wonderful piece of architecture….and it is right in the middle of our village!"
last updated: 11/04/2008 at 14:10