River Deben

Woodbridge Tide Mill from the River Deben
Country England
Region Suffolk
Primary source Bedingfield
 - elevation 60 m (197 ft)
 - coordinates 52°15′34″N 1°11′14″E / 52.2594°N 1.1873°E / 52.2594; 1.1873
Secondary source Debenham
 - elevation 54 m (177 ft)
 - coordinates 52°13′35″N 1°08′01″E / 52.2263°N 1.1336°E / 52.2263; 1.1336
Mouth North Sea near Felixstowe
 - elevation 0 m (0 ft)
 - coordinates 51°58′51″N 1°23′34″E / 51.9808°N 1.3927°E / 51.9808; 1.3927Coordinates: 51°58′51″N 1°23′34″E / 51.9808°N 1.3927°E / 51.9808; 1.3927
Length 54 km (34 mi)
Location of the river mouth within Suffolk

The River Deben is a river in Suffolk rising to the westof Debenham, though a second, higher source runs south from the parish of Bedingfield. The river passes through Woodbridge, turning into a tidal estuary before entering the North Sea at Felixstowe Ferry. The mouth of the estuary is crossed by a ferry connecting Felixstowe and Bawdsey.[1]


The river gives its name to the village of Debenham, which means "homestead on the River Deben". The river's name itself is thought to derive from the word Deope meaning 'deep'.[2] The river, though still little more than a stream, is forded twice in the village, with one claimed to be among the longest in England.[3]

Tide mills at Woodbridge have operated off the tide from the river Deben since at least 1170. The present mill, built in 1793, is producing stone ground wholemeal flour in the traditional way.[4]


The Deben Estuary is a Special Protection Area and Ramsar Site and within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Its significance arises from its over-wintering population of avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta). The estuary features shifting sandbanks. Plant life is dominated by the common reed (Phragmites australis). The salt marsh and intertidal mud-flats that occupy most of the area have the widest range of salt marsh flora in Suffolk.


There are several yacht and dinghy clubs on the river Deben. These include the Deben Rowing Club, Deben Yacht Club, the Waldringfield Sailing Club, Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club and the Woodbridge Cruising Club. There are two yacht harbours, the Tidemill Yacht Harbour, close to the Tide Mill; and the Granary Yacht Harbour, further upstream at Melton.


  1. Ordnance Survey of Great Britain
  2. A. D. Mills. A Dictionary of British Place Names. Oxford University Press.
  3. "Fords in Suffolk". Wet Roads. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  4. "History". Woodbridge Tide Mill.

See also

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