Welcome to the latest edition of the Best of Suffolk ‘Tried and Tested’ blog series, featuring the utterly captivating Wassicks Cottage – a beautifully converted 16 Century haybarn set in the most idyllic of surroundings in a haven of tranquility, deep in the Suffolk countryside.
With many guests venturing to Suffolk for the first time as part of the great British staycation, it could be challenging to know where to base yourselves for your time away. Lockdown-weary guests looking to relax away from the crowds in Suffolk’s green and pleasant land need look no further. The ultimate rural retreat (with all modern creature comforts) awaits you at Wassicks Cottage. Peace and tranquility come pretty much guaranteed thanks to the 26 acres of private land in which this stylish and pet-friendly detached holiday cottage is is located.
As Best of Suffolk is a local holiday letting agency, we’re able to offer personal service. We pride ourselves on knowing our properties inside and out. That’s why our Tried and Tested blog series sees members of the Best of Suffolk team ‘try and test’ our properties along with their family and friends.
Each blog provides first-hand experience of our stays and recommendations of things to do nearby. From the property itself to knowledge of where’s good for food – we ‘try and test’ it all.
In this edition, Abi (our Marketing Manager), her son Monty, and Mum and Step-Dad tried out Wassicks Cottage for a restful long weekend to re-charge the batteries. Here’s how they got on.
Wassicks Cottage, Haughley
I absolutely fell in love with Wassicks Cottage during our stay there. It ticks every box for me when looking for a break away. Full of character, peaceful, creature comforts such as Wi-Fi and an open fire, family-friendly, well-equipped – all with plenty to do on-site and exciting places nearby for day trips. Although we don’t have a dog, anyone looking for a pet-friendly holiday cottage in a secluded position with a plethora of original period features need look no further!
Sleeping four, over a twin and a double bedroom, Wassicks Cottage is ideal for a family, couples, or a small group of friends. The charming holiday home also boasts a number of quality personal touches, art, beautifully handmade furnishings and high-quality furniture, with a wildlife theme throughout the property. From the barn owls in the dining area, the bees and flowers in the twin bedroom, to the hares and deer in the impressive mezzanine bedroom – you know you’re in a quality rural retreat.
For me the wow factor is the rare treat of having a holiday property surrounded by enchanting gardens. Every way you turn there’s something new to discover or explore.
Location, Location, Location!
This detached self-catering cottage is situated on a private estate of 26 acres with gorgeous gardens, ponds and fields at the end of a lane, adjacent to the owner’s home, in a very quiet spot.
The nearest village is Haughley, a historic village about two miles from Stowmarket. Haughley was an important Anglo-Saxon settlement, and today boasts many fine old buildings dating back to 1310, a castle moat (pictured above), a pub, bakery, and shop. There’s also an Indian restaurant, The Old Counting House, which offers a takeaway service as well as being a full-service restaurant.
The Kings Arms is the nearest pub, but boy what an absolute gem of a pub! The menu and business has been created around the ethos of using the freshest ingredients, local suppliers and seasonal produce wherever possible. It’s not surprising to hear that the King’s Arms have been finalists for Suffolk Pub of the Year and Suffolk Chef of the Year! The pub sits at the top of the village in a 14 Century building priding itself on great food, drink, and service. Child-friendly beer garden and oak-fired pizzas on a Sunday in the summer months.
Wassicks Cottage: First Impressions
I was the first to arrive at Wassicks Cottage. I must admit, having given the arrival instructions a quick read-through before I set off and seeing the 12 point instructions I was a tad nervous, but I needn’t have been. You do not get this level of remoteness by following a GPS or Sat Nav, so the arrival details were followed to the letter and could not have made my arrival at Wassicks Cottage any easier.
The moment you turn off the main road you know you’re in for a truly rural retreat. Driving between paddocks and fields, you encounter no end of wildlife from muntjack deers to partridges, pheasants to hares, and I hadn’t even arrived yet! The easy-to-follow instructions lead me to the allocated parking space in the cartshed, just a short hop across the patio by the water fountain to Wassicks Cottages’ front door. There is parking for a second car, just around the corner.
The welcome pack at Wassicks Cottage was incredible and really made me feel very welcome indeed. Fresh eggs from the farm, some delicious Sea Change sustainable wine, organic biscuits, sustainable hand soap, fair trade chocolate, flowers and a welcome to Wassicks greeting card left by the owner who lives in the farmhouse on site.
It was also a delight to be greeted by a ‘Visitors Desk’, full of everything I needed or wanted to know. The handy welcome folder was very helpful, and detailed everything including the Wi-Fi password. There was also a folder full of local walking maps, leaflets on attractions and things to do nearby. A veritable tourist information centre of useful information!
The Shepherd and Dog, Onehouse
As with any holiday, heading out for a yummy bite to eat is part of the fun! We decided to head out on our first night to The Shepherd and Dog, a family-friendly pub in Onehouse (about 15 minutes away by car).
With a range of pub classics, and delicious-sounding dishes on the daily specials board, we found that each and every taste was catered for. Simple food, done very well and with wonderful service. As it was a holiday, we treated ourselves to pudding. I opted for the toffee pecan cheesecake and was not disappointed!
The reason we picked this particular pub was down to the impressive child-friendly beer garden. Boasting a sunken trampoline, a play kitchen, swing ball and mini rainbow picnic benches, it kept Monty entertained during the short wait for our food.
An English Country Garden
After all that delicious food, and with the sun setting, we headed home to spend some time in the glorious garden at Wassicks Cottage.
Whether you chose to sit and watch the sunset with a glass of something cool and bubbly, or spend time in it as a family, it is most certainly one of the most enjoyable ways to spend an evening on holiday.
As part of their commitment to local wildlife and conservation, Wassicks Farm has joined the Wild East movement. At least 20% of the farm remains a useable habitat for local flora and fauna. On our evening we were surrounded by ox-eye daisies, a hive of activity for the local bees! An impressive 2,200 trees have been planted and hedgerows managed and maintained. This is wildlife conservation in action, in an unobtrusive way to your holiday. In the welcome file, there’s an impressive list of wildlife spotted around the farm. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects all listed. Should you see any that aren’t detailed be sure to tell the owners so the list can be updated!
A Working Farm
Guests are welcome to walk around the warm at Wassicks, whilst being respectful to the animals (both wild and domestic) and keeping to the paths. The farm at Wassicks is managed on a wildlife-friendly basis, with free-range chickens, there is a livery for horses and part of the acreage is grazed by sheep depending upon the time of year. The eggs in our welcome pack were fresh from the farm, and utterly delicious!
Before long, it was time for bed. The lovely thing about Wassicks Cottage is the layout of the property. The twin bedroom is on the ground floor and is just off the kitchen.
After storytime with Nanna, Monty was able to go to sleep in peace, with the adults in the spacious and comfortable sitting room on the other side of the kitchen. We could relax and watch a bit of telly without causing any disturbance! This space is absolutely gorgeous, and ideal for relaxing or playing games, curled up by the fire of an evening.
Impressive Master Bedroom
This particularly impressive and very pretty room is in the eaves of the building, on a mezzanine just above the sitting room. The room overlooks the living area with bannister and view of the garden beyond through the full height windows (curtained at the bottom with vertical blinds at the top).
Both beds were so comfortable, and the crisp white linens gave that luxurious, hotel feel.
Planning Our Day
After a good night’s sleep in peaceful surroundings, we woke up refreshed and ready to start our day. Monty loved curling up on the comfy sofa in the sitting room and reading all about Suffolk.
Palmers Bakery, Haughley
Monty and I set off in search of baked treats for breakfast. A short trip in the car into Haughley and we found ourselves at Palmers bakery. Baking since 1752, this traditional family bakers and confectioners did not disappoint! A selection of croissants, Danishes and treats were secured and we headed back for breakfast around the dining table. This impressive able provides more than enough room for four to eat comfortably, with six chairs provided.
We decided to head to the Farmers Market, held every Saturday at Wyken Vineyards and just a short 20-minute drive from Wassicks Cottage. This well-established market had a wide variety of local producers. Everything from plants to crochet, butchers to bakers, each stall was a delight for the senses. We picked up a few treats to have later.
Wyken is a 1200-acre farm that includes a flock of Shetland sheep, a small herd of Red Poll cattle and a 7-acre vineyard producing award-winning wines.
The shop is ideal for mooching, with far too much to tempt you! Local products, sustainably made and sourced feature. You can also purchase the delicious wine produced on-site. Their ‘Moonshine’ is a prize-winning sparkling wine and can be bought chilled should you wish for a tipple to accompany your picnic or pizza lunch!
There’s also an impressive selection of books, for both adults and children. The children’s section has some wonderful non-plastic toys and entertainment for sale, but be warned….
Monty is still waiting for his free puppy!
Vineyard & Ancient Woodland Walk
After all that shopping we decided to stretch our legs and take the woodland walk at Wyken.
The short stroll through woodland leads you to the vineyards and takes about 20 minutes each way.
After working up an appetite, we opted for pizza at the Moonshine Cafe on site. They specialise in wood-fired organic sourdough pizza with a tempting selection of toppings!
After all the fun and excitement of being out and about, we headed back to the peace and tranquility of Wassicks Cottage. It was a simply glorious sunny afternoon and we each decided to relax in the green space in our own way;
Monty took the opportunity to play some of the travel games we had brought with us on the picnic bench in the garden.
Grandpa found a quiet spot in the shade on one of the sun loungers and enjoyed a glass of the delicious Sea Change wine left in our welcome pack whilst reading a Suffolk magazine.
And I enjoyed a lounge in the sunshine, accompanied by my current read, an Agatha Christie, with a cuppa tea.
Well Equipped Kitchen
it wasn’t long before our thoughts turned to food, again! I went into the well-equipped kitchen to rustle up some snacks and goodies purchased earlier at the farmers market.
The owners have really gone above and beyond equipping this kitchen for holiday use. Plenty of cookware, sharpe knives and more than sufficient crockery mean you have everything you could possibly need, whether you’re whipping up an omelette or cooking a full meal, you are well catered for.
Environmentally Sensitive Products
Throughout the property, you will see subtle nods towards a more environmentally sustainable way of doing things. From the kitchen cleaning products and food waste bin for tea bags and food scrapings to the complimentary organic toiletries; a lot of thought has been put into minimizing environmental impact.
In the morning, we decided to head out and explore the historic village of Haughley. It is picture-perfect, and could feature on any chocolate box!
Starting at the church, we decided to walk down to the historic moat. It was suffering from a mild case of algae but the water lilies were just about to come into bloom.
We learned about the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Haughley thanks to the information board by the moat. Having just been learning about this period of English history in school Monty particularly liked the artist’s impression of what Anglo-Saxon Haughley looked like.
Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket
After our walk, we headed into Stowmarket to go to the Museum of East Anglian Life.
The museum is set in an impressive 75 acres of Suffolk countryside. It boasts 17 historic buildings and almost 40,000 objects. There’s also a working farm with sheep, pigs, goats, rabbits, horses and chickens.
We opted for a lakeside walk. We could not believe that a spot this beautiful and tranquil was within the centre of Stowmarket!
The museum would be equally as enjoyable for adults and children. Monty particularly liked the interactive sections of the exhibits!
Adults might prefer a coffee in the cafe and a walk around the walled garden, but each to their own!
If I Had More Time, I Would…
…Visit Historic Bury St Edmunds.
Bury St Edmunds is only 20 minutes away by car from Wassicks Cottage. A truly desirable location with a fantastic selection of boutique and antique shops, as well as cafés, restaurants and the historic Abbey.
….Head to the Suffolk Coast.
At under an hour from the door of Wassicks Cottage, you could be paddling on the Suffolk coastal waters of Aldeburgh! Take a walk along the coastal path and enjoy fresh fish and chips on the beach. Why not!
…Completed a Circular Walk Around Haughley.
This walking map was provided in the information pack at Wassicks Cottage, and details three circular walks around the village. Too long for Monty’s little legs to walk, but I’d love to have tackled one of them!
What Do Other Guests Think?
The Gracias family sum up their stay at Wassicks Cottage so well in this visitor’s book. “This cottage exceeded expectations and was the perfect antidote to London’s C-19 stress.”
The Verdict: Wassicks Cottage
Wassicks Cottage is a truly hidden gem. Anyone looking for a calming, restful weekend in the Suffolk countryside need look no further. A beautiful home, tastefully furnished with environmental sensitivity and guest comfort in mind.
With plenty to do on site, and so many options for day trips too, you’re spoiled for choice as to how to spend your time.
During our stay at Wassicks Cottage we ate well, lived well, and enjoyed all that our glorious county of Suffolk had to offer.
Absolutely ideal for a family, couples or a group of friends, Wassicks Cottage is so much more than just a holiday home!
Why not take a look at availability, and secure your break to Wassicks Cottage today?