A Georgian market town where you can sit in the sun and watch the world go by people have shopped and traded in Harleston for centuries, especially since Market Day was set up in 1369, and it’s still going strong every Wednesday. Today it is that rare thing, the market town of your imagination, surrounded by beautiful countryside. The Thoroughfare is lined with tempting independent shops, wonderful pubs and cafés, with wide pavements where you can sit with your coffee and take a moment to enjoy the scene. With about 200 medieval buildings Harleston would look much like Lavenham, if it wasn’t for the heady prosperity of the 1700s, which led to the beautiful Georgian era facades that make it so pretty now. The self-indulgent Georgians would have thought it entirely right that today’s travellers can enjoy magnificent hospitability in sumptuous inns and in a fabulous guest house with a hammam spa.
You’ll find grand history, as local legend says the town’s name comes from Harold's Stone, for the stone in the Thoroughfare by the landmark Clocktower, where King Harold is thought to have stood, to allocate land. A few centuries later the course of history teetered on a knife edge in 1570 thanks to the Midsummer Fair Plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I, which luckily came to nothing. There’s also a significant USA connection, as explained along the Mayflower Trail, all about two Harleston men Samuel and Edward Fuller who set sail on the Mayflower in 1620, ready to build a new world in America. Edward’s son, christened in Redenhall close by, went on to have nine children leading to thousands of descendants living in America today, all with a personal link to this lovely market town in the winding Waveney Valley. Discover more at the Harleston Museum next to King George's Hall in Broad Street.
Visit glorious Harleston and indulge yourself just like the Georgians did.