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Stowmarket is a small market town situated in Suffolk, Englandmarker, on the busy A14 trunk road between Bury St Edmundsmarker to the West and Ipswichmarker to the South-East. The town is on the main rail line between Londonmarker and Norwichmarker, and has an approximate population of 19,000. It is the largest town in the Mid Suffolkmarker district and is represented in parliament by the MP for Bury St Edmunds, currently David Ruffley. Stowmarket lies on the River Gippingmarker, which is joined by its tributary, the River Ratmarker, to the South of the town.

The town takes its name from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘Stow’ meaning ‘principal place’, and was granted a market charter in 1347 by Edward III. A bi-weekly market is still held there today on Thursday and Saturday.

Landmarks

The church of St Peter and St Mary is in the ‘Decorated’ style and dates to the 14th century. The 16th century vicarage has associations with John Milton, and ‘Milton’s Tree’ in the grounds of a former vicarage is believed to be an offshoot of one of the many trees he planted there.

Opened in 1967, the Museum of East Anglian Lifemarker occupies a 70 acre (283,000 m²) site close to the town centre.

Transport

In the 18th century the Gipping was made navigable between Stowmarket and Ipswich by a series of locks. The newly created canal was known as the Ipswich and Stowmarket Navigationmarker.

Suffolk County Council has begun building a road from the Central Roundabout, a short distance to the east of Stowmarket, to Gipping Way in central Stowmarket at a cost of £21 million . The scheme is expected to be completed in spring 2010. The new road will bridge both the railway line and the River Gipping .

Events

Disaster struck Stowmarket on 11 August 1871, when an explosion at a local gun cotton factory claimed twenty-eight lives.

Stowmarket has received welcome press coverage in local papers on annual events in summer time such as the well-attended Carnival and the recent music festival "Stow-Fest". These events are often attended by hundreds of people and numerous local bands have gained popularity and record levels playing at "Stow-Fest".

Stowmarket achieved national fame as a result of being frequently mentioned by the broadcaster John Peel who lived nearby until his death in 2004.

Notable Residents

The poet John Milton made regular visits to the town as his tutor, Dr Thomas Young, became vicar of Stowmarket in 1628.Other notable residents included political writer William Godwin, who spent time as minister at the Stowmarket Independent Church, and West-End star Kerry Ellis. Delia Smith also resides nearby in Combsmarker. Stow has produced two footballers, James Scowcroft who played for the local junior sides and Ipswich Town also England international, Matthew Upson was born in Stowmarket and raised in a nearby local village. As well as poet George Crabbe, who went to school in the town.

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