Is it possible to be disappointed in Woodbridge? Yes, if what you hope for doesn’t materialise. We were lured by flyers for the asparagus and strawberry market and found – one stall with said offers, one small bread stall and a van not yet unpacked.
Perhaps we were too early, though we had already been to the Farmers’ Market at the Community Centre, where we knew most stallholders would have gone to Snape. We had another reason to be there, however, and found yet another on the way between venues.
Our main reason for being there was the annual Basil Brown memorial lecture of the Sutton Hoo Society at the Riverside Theatre and cinema. Basil Brown had excavated the astounding ship burial at Sutton Hoo in 1939 and is commemorated each year with a lecture by a prominent expert in the field of early medieval history or archaeology.
The Riverside is almost an archaeological site in itself, and could indeed have hidden beneath its foundations signs of the Anglo-Saxon settlement proposed by our guest speaker, Chris Fern. He argued that “Wood” and “bridge” could be understood as relating to Woden or Odin, Nordic god of the dead as well as wisdom, and a ferry as in modern Swedish, so giving us a ferry for the dead across the river to their burial site. All became clear as evidence emerged for the Swedish origins of the people buried at the site between Tranmer House, where Brown was employed, and the National Trust visitor centre and cafe. These were dated to the half century or so before the famous ship and its associated elite burials.
It was a lovely day, conditions that make walking around Woodbridge a pleasure so we soon forgot disappointment in the market, after having bought the requisite fruit and vegetables. The farmers’ market had supplied eggs, salad and other vegetables, and the Cake Shop Bakery as ever had its delicious bread. We also looked into the Deli to buy cheese, and Browsers Bookshop for a delicious looking and no doubt tasting illustrated book on the cooking of Sicily. The fish stall nearby had what we wanted and the extra item was a new shop with very reasonably-priced handbags.
All in all a very worthwhile morning. Disappointments are easily overcome, and if we’d hoped for more variety in the market nonetheless it had provided what we sought, albeit in less than splendid isolation.