My Suffolk - Hugh Fraser

This month’s My Suffolk is from actor Hugh Fraser – perhaps best known for playing Captain Hastings in TV’s Agatha Christie’s Poirot. His film credits include Patriot Games, 101 Dalmatians, Clint Eastwood’s Firefox and The Man in the Iron Mask and he’s also the patron of Lapwing Education, which provides bespoke education to marginalised young people in Suffolk 

Hugh Fraser

Where were you born and how did you come to live in Suffolk ?

I was born in London but my family moved to Sutton Coldfield when I was six. I moved back to London to begin drama school aged eighteen and stayed until I relocated to Woodbridge three years ago. My connection with Suffolk began when I was in Oliver Neville’s company at the Arts Theatre in Ipswich in the 1960s. It was fortnightly repertory so there was not much free time to explore Suffolk but I often journeyed to Felixstowe on Sundays with various members of the company for a bit of sea air and R & R. Years later I became friends with Roger Deakin, the writer and conservationist, who lived in Mellis, near Diss. I stayed with Roger at weekends and he imparted his love for the county to me. After Roger sadly passed away, I subsequently spent a couple of holidays in Southwold. 

What makes the county special?

For me it’s the quiet beauty of the landscape, the wonderful variety of trees and, best of all, the Suffolk coastline.

How do you like to relax? 

I love walking by the sea, mostly at Bawdsey, Walberswick, Dunwich and Southwold. I find walking to be a wonderful way to relax and recharge. I also walk in Tunstall Forest and across the marshes from Snape Maltings towards the church at Iken. River walks on the banks of the Deben, here in Woodbridge, are a delight. One can go up or downstream and experience the calm of the river and the varied and colourful avian life. There are many more walks that I look forward to exploring in the future.

Where do you like to eat out?

The Table in Woodbridge is a favourite haunt with a varied menu and excellent service. Also the British Larder at Bromeswell and not forgetting the Royal Bengal Indian Restaurant in Woodbridge. The East Coast Diner (also Woodbridge) does great take away pizza for TV dinners! For a real gourmet experience I head for the pier at Southwold and enjoy the excellent fish and chips. 

Are there some special places in Suffolk that you'd recommend?

Snape Maltings is a very interesting place to visit. Apart from the building itself there are some beautiful artworks and sculptures in the grounds and an appealing selection of shops and restaurants. The Pump Street Bakery in Orford is perfect if one is keen on gaining body weight. Aldeburgh is a lovely seaside town with a beautiful beach. Early morning visitors can watch the intrepid swimmers who brave the waves throughout the year, in all weathers!

Adnams, Aspalls or Greene King?

I’m afraid I’m teetotal and so not in a position to make a judgement but a straw telephone poll of my beer-swilling friends came back with a unanimous shout for Adnams.

Have you got any hobbies?

I play guitar and bass, currently with Kimberley Moore, a singer-songwriter from Norwich. Our next gig is at the Waterfront in Norwich on November 29.

Where do you like to shop?

I’m afraid I’m a reluctant shopper, as my wardrobe sadly testifies. I do notice a fine selection of women’s boutiques here in Woodbridge on Market Hill and there is a traditional gent’s outfitters in the Thoroughfare that has some sturdy looking tweed jackets in the window.

Is there one picture you'd take to sum up our county?

It would have to be The Haywain.

Where would you take newcomers on a tour of the county?

First on the itinerary would be a visit to RSPB nature reserve at Minsmere, followed by the Anglo Saxon Royal Burial Site at Sutton Hoo and then on to Framlingham Castle, where Mary Tudor took refuge. From there we would travel to Aldeburgh to see the Moot Hall, and then along the beach to the Napoleonic Martello Tower at the south end of the town. Some sustenance at one of the two excellent fish and chip shops in the High Street (there’s a theme developing here) would round off their day in Suffolk.