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Revealed - The East Anglian destinations on list of best places to live

PUBLISHED: 11:38 12 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:13 12 April 2019

Bury St Edmunds took the top spot, and has been named the best place to live in the east in 2019 Picture: ARCHANT

Bury St Edmunds took the top spot, and has been named the best place to live in the east in 2019 Picture: ARCHANT

The best places to live in the UK have been revealed by The Sunday Times - and Woodbridge, Bury St Edmunds and Manningtree have won spots in the eastern top 10.

Bury's cobbled streets and Bury's cobbled streets and "period drama" look wowed the judges Picture: SUFFOLK MARKET EVENTS

Bury St Edmunds claims first prize on the list, which names the west Suffolk town the best place to live in the east of England.

Chelmsford and Manningtree are also featured, alongside Woodbridge.

The accolades come ahead of the full reveal of The Sunday Times Best Places to live guide, published on April 14.

It ranks destinations based on a range of factors – from employment, schools, and broadband speed to culture, community spirit and local shops.

We’ve listed some of the reasons why these places have claimed the top spots:

Bury St Edmunds

Culture

The Sunday Times panel believes Bury is reinventing itself as a “buzzy cultural hub” – without losing its neighbourly way of life.

Its jazz club and art-house cinema are mentioned, as well as the wide range of artisan coffee roasters, and a bar serving martinis from foraged ingredients.

Bury St Edmunds has been crowned the best place to live in the east by The Sunday Times Picture: ARCHANTBury St Edmunds has been crowned the best place to live in the east by The Sunday Times Picture: ARCHANT

Good schools

The town’s choice and quality of schools has seen it re-enter the top 10.

Many nearby state and private schools, such as County Upper and KEGS, have ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ Ofsted ratings.

Appearance

Judges referred to Charles Dickens’ description of Bury St Edmunds as a “handsome town of thriving and cleanly experience” – and praised its pastel-coloured cottages and gravity-defying timbered houses.

They said the cobbled streets of the market town are a “period drama all of their own”.

Abbey Gardens, next to the town’s cathedral, has scooped several awards for its appearance.

Manningtree

Wildlife

Aerial view of Manningtree and its surrounding wetlands, after it was ranked among the top places to live in the UK Picture: MIKE PAGEAerial view of Manningtree and its surrounding wetlands, after it was ranked among the top places to live in the UK Picture: MIKE PAGE

With its sprawling coastline and surrounding mudflats, Manningtree is home to all kinds of wildlife – including a wide range of insects.

Visitors to surrounding nature reserves, such as the Stour Estuary and Cattawade Marshes, can catch a glimpse of wading birds, oystercatchers and lapwings.

Recently, plans were revealed to extend the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to include the Manningtree area.

Transport links

Manningtree railway station is on the Great Eastern Main Line to London and is just over an hour away from the capital.

The town is also not far from the A12 and A14, and is just under an hour away from London Stansted.

Community spirit

An official claimant for England’s smallest town, Manningtree has a tight-knit community with a regular market and a range of independent shops.

Manningtree is a claimant for the smallest town in England  Picture: ARCHANTManningtree is a claimant for the smallest town in England Picture: ARCHANT

Woodbridge

Countryside

On the fringes of the AONB and just eight miles from the coast, Woodbridge was last year described as having “all the charm of Southwold and Aldeburgh, but it isn’t ‘just for the weekend’”.

Set on the banks of the River Deben, the town is also home to one of the only two working tidemills in Britain.

Sports

The Sunday Times judges, who have ranked Woodbridge in the top 10 again for the second year in a row, noted how much of a hit it is with sailing enthusiasts.

Numerous other sports clubs, including those for bowls and watersports, are popular in the area.

Independent shops

Woodbridge’s Thoroughfare was recently nominated for Britain’s best high street and although it missed out on the top award, locals turned out to celebrate their town.

Woodbridge's Thoroughfare was nominated for Britain's best high street in 2018 Picture: RACHEL EDGEWoodbridge's Thoroughfare was nominated for Britain's best high street in 2018 Picture: RACHEL EDGE

The shopping street is packed full of independent shops, selling a range of homemade wares.

Chelmsford

Education

Last year’s winner in the east – the city of Chelmsford – has a range of excellent schools, according to the judges.

State primaries such as Beehive Lane Community and good secondaries such as the Sandon School were highlighted in the 2018 entry.

House prices

A starter home in Chelmsford will set you back £227,782, while a mid-market property would cost £394,922.

Top-of-the-range homes are slightly more expensive at £632,938, largely due to the city’s proximity to London, which is just over 30 minutes away by train.

Shopping

Shopping facilities in Chelmsford were praised by The Sunday Times judges in 2018 Picture: CHELMSFORD CITY COUNCILShopping facilities in Chelmsford were praised by The Sunday Times judges in 2018 Picture: CHELMSFORD CITY COUNCIL

Chelmsford’s retail offering has recently expanded, with the revamp of the Bond Street shopping centre and a range of other malls including The Meadows and High Chelmer.

The full list – The Sunday Times Best Places to Live in the east

1. Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

2. Aylsham, Norfolk

3. Bedford, Bedfordshire

4. Blakeney, Norfolk

5. Petersfield, Cambridge

6. Chelmsford, Essex

7. Manningtree, Essex

8. Norwich, Norfolk

9. Saffron Walden, Essex

10. Woodbridge, Suffolk

* The above list is not in order of ranking

Do you think the top 10 is a true reflection of the best places to live in East Anglia?

Share your thoughts in the comments or send us an email.

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