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Halesworth is a small market town (population of around 6,000) in the northeastern corner of Suffolk, Englandmarker. It is located south west of Lowestoftmarker, and straddles the River Blythmarker, 9 miles (14 km) upstream from Southwoldmarker. The town is served by Halesworth railway stationmarker on the Ipswichmarker-Lowestoftmarker East Suffolk Line. Halesworth is twinned with both Bouchainmarker in Francemarker and Eitorfmarker in Germanymarker.

A Roman settlement, Halesworth has a medieval church; St Mary's with Victorian additions and a variety of houses, from early timber-framed buildings to the remnants of Victorian prosperity. Former almshouses used to house the Halesworth & District Museum (open from May to September) but this has now been moved to Halesworth railway stationmarker. The Town Trail walk provides opportunity to discover the history of Halesworth.

Halesworth is primarily centred on a pedestrianised, shopping street known as The Thoroughfare. "Thoroughfare" is an East Anglianmarker term for the main street of a town - what would be commonly known elsewhere in the UKmarker as the "High Street". Each year the Thoroughfare hosts a popular food, drink and craft fair, termed the "Thoroughfair", to raise money for good causes.

Halesworth's New Cut Arts, a centre for arts in the community, offers arts, music, theatre, dance, comedy, cinema, workshops and art exhibitions to the local area. It has a cafeteria and licensed bar and is a registered charity, relying on the support of the local community and its 500 club benefactors. The venue also hosts the annual HighTide Festival in May, which presents world premieres of theatre productions by new writers.

Halesworth also hosts the "Gig in the Park" which is a showcase of local, national, and international musical talent. The event was started by The Cult's bassist Jamie Stewart aka Jo Marshall and takes place over three days in August every year. Acts previously featured include Suzi Quattro, The Stranglers, The Beat, The Selecter and The Buzzcocks. The Jungle Tent features up and coming bands and DJs. It also features Stadium Rockers Frontbum the greatest thing to happen to Halesworth since records began.

Halesworth has the largest Millennium Green in the UK with around of grazing marsh providing a haven for wildlife close to the town centre. The rivers in this area are home to heron, kingfisher and otter.

Nearby villages include Cratfield, Wisset, Chediston, Walpole, Blyfordmarker, Linstead Parva, Wenhastonmarker, Thorington, Spexhallmarker and Bramfieldmarker.The village of Holtonmarker is away with a large open space for walking called Holton Pits.

History

A Halesworth bank used to issue its own banknotes. A 5 guineamarker banknote, issued by the Suffolk and Halesworth Bank in 1799, has recently been recovered.

In the early 18th century the Angel Hotel was built and held a position of importance as the post house, coaching inn and main meeting place for townsfolk.

Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker the famous botanist and traveller; born June 30, 1817 - died December 10, 1911. Hooker House, now a dental surgery, is named after him.His widow declined the proposal of a burial of his body in Westminster Abbeymarker alongside Darwin.

In 1862 the only murder was recorded, Ebenezer Tye was a policeman who was trying to stop a burglary in Chediston Street. However he was beaten to death and is now buried in Halesworth Cemetery. The murderer John Ducker was caught and was the last person to be publicly hanged in Suffolk.

In 1862 the Rifle Hall was presented to the town by the family of a late captain of the rifle corps, Andrew Johnston. It is so called because it was used as a drill hall by the rifle corps. The hall was originally built in 1792 as a theatre and was used from 1812-1844 by the theatre manager David Fisher. He owned an itinerant theatre group which travelled a circuit of theatres in East Angliamarker (including the Fisher Theatre in Bungay currently under restoration). It would take the company two years to complete the circuit travelling with their costumes, props and sets and publicising their plays as they went. They were highly successful with strong links with the Londonmarker stage and the acting circle.

Chediston Street was originally the site of many pubs and small breweries. The ghost of Squire Baker is reputed to haunt this street. He is renowned for throwing the vicar down the stairs and breaking his legs. There is also a heavy-footed ghost that walks into a house and clumps noisily through to the other side.

Quay Street takes its name from the original town quay. In the middle of the 18th century the river was made navigable from Halesworth to Southwoldmarker. A new brick lock was made at Halesworth and new cuts were dug. The first keel arrived from Southwold in 1761, laden with coal, shortening the journey of the cargo considerably. Part of the old navigation can be seen in the Town Park.

The Town Park was created by Donald Newby (Chairman of Halesworth UDC 1970-1971) with the help of Lady Rugby who donated some of the land.

The Thoroughfare

Prior to 1300 much of this area was a flood plain

Excavations outside the White Hart pub in 1991 discovered part of a causeway - probably dating from the late Saxon period. A piece of oak pile from these excavations is in the Halesworth & District Museum.

There are fine examples of 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th century buildings in the Thoroughfare.

Number 8 is a former ironmonger's. This shop belonged to the grandfather of Sir David Frost and the name of William Frost can still be seen underneath the archway next to the shop. The Thoroughfare is home to many specialist shops and cafes as well as playing host to events throughout the year.

Number 6, thought to be 14th century and sometimes referred to as Dame Margery's, is believed to have been the home of Margaret de Argentein. The beam over the main doorway would have included the Argentein coat of arms

Number 14 is thought to have been the early home of George Lansbury - leader of the Labour Party from 1931 to 1935. His granddaughter is the well-known actress Angela Lansbury.

A block of four shops next to this was originally built in 1474 as The Guildhall. This was the home of the Guild of St John the Baptist and Guild of St Love and St Anthony. The original line of the building can be seen.

20th century renovations discovered a mummified cat in the foundations. It was replaced when the work was completed. A similar mummified cat can be found at the Halesworth Museum. This cat came from one of the maltings in the town. The mummified cats were placed to ward off rats and mice from the grain, or bring good luck

A short distance to the east of the actual town lies the Second World War airfield of Halesworth. The airfield was begun in 1943. Initially the 56th Fighter Group of the United States 8th Army Air Force were stationed there. Later in 1944 it became the base of the 489th Bomb Group flying B24 Liberators. They played a full part in the build up to and during D-Day on 6 June, 1944. From July they switched to strategic offensive bombing until November, when they ceased operations to return to America.

Between January and June in 1945 the 5th Emergency Rescue Squadron operated from the base flying war weary P47s and B17s. Their mission was to carry dinghies and smoke markers to aid downed crews found at sea.

The airfield closed for flying in February 1946 Today the airfield is owned by Bernard Matthews and while it is still closed for flying except by the turkeys, there is an interesting and well laid out museum staffed by locals who help to keep the memories of those it hosted, alive.

Railway

The Halesworth railway is connected to Ipswichmarker and Lowestoftmarker. It is the best unstaffed railway for 2004 and 2005. From 24 September, 1879 until 11 April, 1924 there was a linemarker from Halesworth to Southwoldmarker. There are plans to revive the railway partly on the original track and partly on new formation.

Services are available to Lowestoft and London run by National Express East Anglia.

St Mary's Church

There has probably been a church on the site of St Mary's, Halesworth since Saxon times. Halesworth is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 recording Ulf the priest to be in charge of the parish.

The present church is essentially early 15th century - with outer aisles built and restoration taking place in the late 19th century. At the time of the restoration, some evidence was uncovered of a round-tower church on the site. The carved Danestones in the church are now believed to be early Norman in date. They were found in the church during the 19th century and could be part of a cross shaft. They depict hands clutching foliage or tails. Their original location is unknown, but undoubtedly pre-date anything now visible in the present church.

Still an active parish church, the present building suffered from a failed re-ordering in the 1990s. At 2007, work is beginning to fund a major restoration project to enable both contemporary worship and enhanced community use.

A major item of interest is the statue of the Madonna and Child in the Lady Chapel, fashioned from driftwood by Peter Eugene Ball.

Tall railings once surrounded the churchyard. This provided protection from sheep and cattle being driven through on market day. This was known as Monkey Walk.

Sports

In the sporting stakes, Halesworth is quite limited in facilities, although Halesworth Town Football Club, who reside at Dairy Hill have had limited success in recent years, their rivalry with Wenhastonmarker United does lead to some entertaining nights around the town. They are currently in Division 2 of the Suffolk and Ipswich League, and as of April 2007, they sit outside the promotion places with their season effectively over. The reserves have just secured (on 14/04/07) at least 4th place in division 6, with one game remaining game, and still the possibility of finishing 3rd, and the chance for promotion to division 5.

Cricket wise, Halesworth Cricket Club folded. But In 2005 A small group of Halesworthians founded the new breed of cricket club, Halesworth Pumas [91110], who have managed to build a club from nothing, In 2006 the Pumas recorded just one loss, which was against a select XI, 2007 season started strongly, after 4 games 3 victories had been attained, the 4th game mentioned being a very close affair at Southwold. One more win was recorded but 2008 holds promise. Everyone is welcome at the Pumas new home, "The Walpole Oval" in Walpole just south of Halesworth on Peasenhall Road, the team were initially frustrated at leaving the town, but rising costs at the school, along with various negative attitudes forced a move, Walpole being the favoured place, and the community welcomed HPCC with open arms, The teams slogan "hit out or get out" is very much a mantra to the teams style of play and is emblazoned on the trademark wristbands worn by all players, associates and "W.A.G.S."

The season didn't finish as strong for the Pumas following 3 successive defeats to local rivals Holton Turkeys who from nowhere produced some elegant and decisive knock out cricket with a helping had from now Essex player Jaik Mickleburgh.

2009 has so far seen Pumas play 15 games at their newest home, Ringsfieldmarker, against opponents from all over England, and with largely successful returns, however the end of season yet again featured a fleeting appearance from Jaik Mickleburgh, One more game remains against Royal Mail (expected to be Sunday, 20th September)

Christmas

Every year the lights are switched on in the Thoroughfare and then people gather near St Mary's to see the Christmas tree being lit up. There are stalls in the Thoroughfare and people dancing with a special visit from Father Christmas who gives the children presents.

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