|Area||36.03 km2 (13.91 sq mi) inc. West Row|
|Population||10,315 (2011) inc. West Row|
|• Density||286/km2 (740/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|• London||75 mi (121 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||BURY ST. EDMUNDS|
|Ambulance||East of England|
Mildenhall is a market town and civil parish in Suffolk, England. The town is near the A11 road, and is 37 mi (60 km) north-west of Ipswich, the county town. The large Royal Air Force station, RAF Mildenhall, as well as RAF Lakenheath, are located north of the town. Both are used by the United States Air Force as the headquarters of its 100th Air Refueling Wing and 352nd Special Operations Group. Mildenhall is often seen as the start of The Fens on the south/east.
The area around Mildenhall has been settled by humans since at least the Bronze Age. Following the Roman Empire invasion of Britain, Mildenhall was the site of a Roman settlement, which at some point contained the Mildenhall Treasure.
The name of the town was first recorded in 1050 as Mildenhale, believed to mean a nook of land belonging to a woman called "Milde" or a man called "Milda". In 1086, the Domesday Book recorded that the town was the property of the Abbot of St Edmunds and had a population of some 64 families.
Early Modern history
With the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536, ownership of the town was transferred to Edward North, 1st Baron North, whose son, Roger North, lived in Mildenhall for a time. Ownership of the Mildenhall estate remained with the North family for many decades. It was Henry North who, upon retirement, built the Manor house at Mildenhall.
Sir Henry North was elected MP for Suffolk in 1685, but he died a bachelor and so ownership of the estate passed to Sir Thomas Hanmer. Hanmer was elected Speaker of the House of Commons in 1714 and spent little time in his estate. He also died without an heir, and ownership then passed to Thomas Bunbury, who also became MP for Suffolk. In 1810 Joseph Smedley was able to hire a building as a temporary theatre for £2.
The Bunbury family held the manor of Mildenhall until the estate was broken up in 1933. RAF Mildenhall was officially opened in 1934 and served as a base for RAF Bomber Command during the Second World War. In 1950, the US Air Force took over its operation.
Mildenhall is centred on a market place with a 16th-century hexagonal market cross and town pump. The town's market is held here every Friday; it originated as a weekly chartered market in (it is believed) the 15th century. In 1934 Mildenhall was the start point of the MacRobertson Air Race to Melbourne, Australia.
Mildenhall has its own radio station, ZACK FM (Forest Heath Public Radio), broadcasting on 105.3 FM; the transmitter is located at the top of St Mary's Church and radiates 100 W. The station format is classic and current hits plus specialist shows, and it broadcasts 24 hours a day with a mix of music, news and information. The town is the subject and namesake of a song by The Shins, as well as being mentioned in passing in the Pink Floyd song "Let There Be More Light" on the 1968 album A Saucerful of Secrets as a speculated location for first contact between humanity and extraterrestrial life:
- Then at last, the mighty ship
- Descending on a point of flame
- Made contact with the human race at Mildenhall
Due to the airfield, Mildenhall currently has the highest concentration of U.S. citizens in the country. As many as 30% of residents were born in the U.S.
The town has a bus station, which was completed in 2005. Regular bus services run to the neighbouring towns of Brandon, Bury St. Edmunds, Newmarket and Thetford. National Express operate daily coach services to Norwich, London (Victoria Coach Station), Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports. Mildenhall railway station was the terminus of the Cambridge to Mildenhall railway until its closure in 1962.
Sport and leisure
It also has one of the East of England's leading cricket clubs, Mildenhall Cricket Club, playing at Wamil Way. In 2016 the 1st XI won the Two Counties Championship and was promoted to the East Anglian Premier Cricket League. Notable former players include England internationals Tymal Mills and Tom Westley and Essex Women's Lilly Reynolds.
There is a leisure centre on Bury Road which is about 5–10 minutes away from the town square.
The River Lark runs through the town, and there is a 19-acre open space adjoining it, called the Jubilee Fields.
- Henry Bunbury (caricaturist), 1750–1811, British caricaturist.
- Elonka Dunin - resident at RAF Mildenhall during her time in the USAF.
- Lindsey Graham - U.S. senator, resident at RAF Lakenheath during the 1980s when he served in the USAF as a JAG.
- Sir Thomas Hanmer, 4th Baronet - owner of the Mildenhall estate; later MP for Suffolk and Speaker of the House of Commons.
- Nicole Malachowski - resident at RAF Lakenheath during her time as a pilot with the 48th Fighter Wing.
- James Mercer - musician. Lived in Mildenhall from 1985 to 1990 after his father was based at RAF Mildenhall. He wrote a song about his time in Mildenhall which appears on the 2017 album Heartworms.
- Tymal Mills - educated at Mildenhall College Academy and played for Mildenhall Cricket Club.
- Sir Henry North - Member of Parliament for Suffolk.
- Rick Perry - based at RAF Mildenhall when he was a pilot in the USAF.
- Dick Rutan - based at RAF Lakenheath when a pilot in the USAF.
- Edmund Selous - ornithologist and writer, resident in Mildenhall from 1889 to 1920.
- Chesley Sullenberger - based at RAF Lakenheath when he was a pilot in the USAF.
- Phil Thornalley - songwriter and musician, grew up in Worlington.
- Heather Wilson - resident at RAF Mildenhall during her time in the USAF.
Mildenhall is perhaps most famous for the discovery in 1942 of the Mildenhall Treasure. Now at the British Museum, the treasure is a hoard of Roman silver objects buried in the 4th century. In 1946 the discovery was made public and the treasure acquired by the British Museum; Roald Dahl wrote an article about the find which was published first in the Saturday Evening Post, and later as "The Mildenhall Treasure" (a short story) in his short story collection The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More. The Mildenhall Museum in the centre of the town contains displays of local history and wildlife, the history of the RAF base, and information on the Mildenhall Treasure. Entrance is free, opening times vary throughout the year. The region between Devil's Dyke and the line between Littleport and Shippea Hill shows a remarkable amount of archaeological findings of the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.
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