Tucked away in a quiet corner of the Waveney Valley is a tiny collection of homes which can claim to be the world's smallest city. BRUNO BROWN visited the little community with a grand name

Turning off the main road between Beccles and Bungay onto the small lane to Ringsfield, it hardly feels like you are approaching the outskirts of a city.

Indeed, without the wonky signpost pointing down an even smaller track it would be easy to miss what is the world's smallest and most unusual - albeit unofficial - city.

The sign - "Barsham City Only" - is the only evidence of this place's grand, urban pretensions.

The track leads to a collection of around 25 homes - with no church, let alone a cathedral - easily dwarfed by the neighbouring villages of Barsham, Shipmeadow and Ringsfield.

Eastern Daily Press: The sign guiding the way to the city centreThe sign guiding the way to the city centre (Image: Bruno Brown)

Yet the citizens of Barsham City - the only one in Suffolk - are proud of their grand, urban name.

Eastern Daily Press: Jean Bowyer outside her home, City CottageJean Bowyer outside her home, City Cottage (Image: Bruno Brown)

Jean Bower, who lives at City Cottage, moved to Barsham City in 1971, with her husband Ken, who died earlier this year.

"We moved here Beccles. We liked the idea of living out of the town, but close by.

“It is lovely and quiet as we don’t get much traffic at all. It is very quiet, and the people are very caring and kind. 

“Some people even up the road in Beccles don’t even know that Barsham City exists.

"I get asked a lot by curious people why it has this name.

“People are always so confused as to why it is called a city because it doesn’t really make too much sense. It is a tiny street of houses."

The origin of the hamlet's unusual name dates back to the period between the world wars, when Norwich City Council owned two local farms covering a large area of the surrounding countryside.

Workers were sent from Norwich to labour on the estate and established a small community here.

The Norwich connection eventually ended, but the 'city' tag remained.

Eastern Daily Press: Carol Blanchard outside of her home, City ValleyCarol Blanchard outside of her home, City Valley (Image: Bruno Brown)Carol Blanchard and her husband Zane moved to Barsham City in 2005, after living in London for 12 years.

The couple live in a property called City Valley.

Mrs Blanchard said friends in the capital were amused that their rural home is in a city.

“My friends in London find it hilarious," she said. "We love it in our home City Valley, which used to home farm workers from Norwich.

“Our friends were so intrigued. Immediately they wanted to know why the area is called a city.

“Barsham is very friendly. We have good and lovely neighbours, all very welcoming. 

“We do not live in each other's pockets though despite it being so small, but we all look after each other. 

“It also is very beautiful here. We see the sun rising over the field every morning. We see deer running in the field, the odd fox passing too.

"It has wonderful scenery and wildlife for a city."

Eastern Daily Press: Pete Larrett-Rowland and his 1988 Citroen 2CV6 SpecialPete Larrett-Rowland and his 1988 Citroen 2CV6 Special (Image: Bruno Brown)

Pete Larrett-Rowland, 75, has lived in the city since 1997 having moved back to Suffolk from Wales to be near his son. 

“I’m an old man now, very settled and do like it here, though truthfully it is rather ‘yokeley’ here," he said.

“Everyone is friendly enough; it is quiet and peaceful and absent from yobs. 

“We all know each other so there is a sense of community, so I would say our little city is generally very pleasant. 

“The sun rises directly opposite my house across the field, and it is very pretty and a lovely thing to see when you wake up first thing."

Kevin Rudd and his family live in one of the newer builds in the city and are also one of the most recent arrivals, having moved from Carlton Colville in 2013.

“It is a lovely place to live. We don’t get any bother," he said.

"But we do get snowed in here and there, and on several occasions have had to spend days here due to six-foot tall snow drifts blocking the road.”

But he joked: “The traffic is a bloody nightmare and often the queues to get into the casino are terrible."

Eastern Daily Press: The 'hustle and bustle' of Barsham CityThe 'hustle and bustle' of Barsham City (Image: Bruno Brown)

Eastern Daily Press: 'Barsham City centre''Barsham City centre' (Image: Bruno Brown)