Highwaymans – A history

The original vineyards connected to the Cathedral were destroyed during the Reformation.  They were situated on the hill behind the town, now known as Vinefields Farm.  Merelina MacRae was very keen to resurrect this vineyard.  It was the right poor soil, sand over chalk on a South-facing slope, and would have formed an interesting backdrop to the expanding town.  However, the planning authorities refused it on the grounds that it was an industrial operation in the countryside.

She tried again, successfully, at the current site which, again had the right poor soil, sand over chalk & a South-facing slope.  A number of grape varieties were planted and, for a while, the operation prospered.  But after a series of poor harvests and an increase in VAT & excise duty, it was decided, reluctantly, to decommission it, along with the adjoining apple orchard.  The wine was successful, being 24 hectares and a mixed grape variety, providing good local employment too.  In planting the vineyard it was necessary to build accommodation for the grower/operator, hence the Coach House & Highwayman’s itself, plus the extensive Cellar & Preparation shed (now The Highwaymans) and storage bays.  The house was called Highwaymans, as the Heath nearby, which was only recently brought into agricultural operation, since World War II (dig for Victory), was a well known haunt for Highwaymen lurking to rob wealthy people on their way back from winning at Newmarket.  The road is the well known medieval route called the Black Ditches, where many archaeological objects have been found.

The house itself was designed by Bridget Treherne, a talented 1960s’ architect, who followed the trend of her generation of moulding concrete (not so popular today), hence the rounded doors & windows, and Merrie Macrae wanted a French chateau design, which was very successful.  The Fisher Family moved to Highwaymans in 1981, expanded the house and built a swimming pool, as the planning authority insisted that there had to be an amount of standing water for fire protection.

Lincoln Seligman, now a well known artist, was commissioned to paint the murals in what used to be the tasting room and is now the lobby to the Bed & Breakfast, to link Highwaymans to the other properties in which the family had an interest: the vineyards which are now mythical, Fair Oak in West Sussex, Eilean Donan on the West coast of Scotland, Kilverstone Hall, Norfolk and Ickworth Hall where, until very recently, there was a vineyard in the old Kitchen Garden, planted with some of the original grape stock.

Highwaymans Mission Statement

Our mission statement at Highwaymans is to build a reputation for memorable getaways and business lodgings through relaxed design, hospitality and attention to important details.

It is important for us to reflect our community’s high quality of life through relaxed and informal environments designed for rest and recharge.

It is important for us to host others as we ourselves wish to be hosted and strengthen our future through repeat and referral guests.

It is important for us to maintain our home, our property with high standards of cleanliness and comfort and become the first choice in overnight stays for visitors to Suffolk and the region of East Anglia.

Highwaymans Vision Statement

Our vision for Highwaymans is to provide and create a supportive, teamwork, competent, hard-working, fun, and customer-focused environment so that we strive to be the Number One Accommodation choice when visiting Suffolk and East Anglia Region.

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