Inside the ‘Living Museum’ in Suffolk

The Museum of East Anglian life

Last Updated on January 15, 2023

The Museum of East Anglian Life, located in the small Suffolk town of Stowmarket, is well worth considering when renting a Barn or Barge in Suffolk.

It all started in 1903 when Ena and Vera Longe purchased Abbot’s Hall Estate – just off of the streets of Stowmarket – an estate that dates back to the medieval time. In the 1950s and the 1960s, whilst the country was seeing problems with skill trades and equipment, farmer Jack Carter and the Suffolk Local History Council went to collect and display objects from the depths of East Anglia and travelled to temporarily exhibit them across Suffolk. This all went swimmingly until, in 1964, the Longe sisters offered two acres of land for the museum, which was then opened in 1967. Following the death of the Longe sisters, the Hall itself was passed onto the Abbot’s Hall Trust and the museum and more land was offered to the Trust as well.

So, what does the museum have to offer today?

Today, the museum boasts a vast amount of land, with 75 acres in total, 17 historic buildings and nearly 40,000 objects for you to gaze at and to read into. In the Abbot’s Hall, you will find a vast amount on show, and it is where temporary exhibitions take place within the museum. You’ll also find an area dedicated to the trade of blacksmiths, a chemist display, showing how they used to be set up, a 13th century barn, rooms dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries, and displays of how shops and schools used to be arranged.

This museum is a perfect day out if you would like to go see how everything used to be run and set up during different times of history and see how much has changed.

So, what can you try at the East Anglia Museum?

Today, if farming takes your interest, you can have a go at tasks like bird scaring, hoeing and much more, as well as visiting the various different animals located on the site. You can take a guided tour throughout the vast estate and discover different objects and exhibitions, with the experts who will know even more knowledge about the estate as well. 

With such a wide range of different objects on offer at the museum, why not try visiting the East Anglian Life website to browse their collection online as well – this can help you if you would like to find a certain artefact which they have on offer but you may have missed.

So, what’s on? 

Throughout the year, a number of events take place at the East Anglia Museum. For example, temporary exhibitions often pop up throughout the year at the museum for everyone to explore. Around mid-December, you can take part in a Festive Luxury Wreath Making Workshop to see how great your arts and crafts skills are and to make a creative, hand-made decoration for the festive season. 

With so much to explore, as well as a fabulous café if you want a pit stop throughout your adventures of the vast, picturesque grounds, it’s easy to immerse yourself in a day of history and truly understanding what life was like for the people who had lived in Suffolk in the past!