The Mu­seum of East Anglia Life

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It was the Ran­somes Story that did it for me and Mum, bring­ing mem­o­ries flood­ing back of my late dad and his work­shop.

As a self-em­ployed engi­neer, Dad had worked with hor­ti­cul­tural and farm ma­chin­ery all his life. He would have loved this bril­liant sec­tion in the William Bone Build­ing of the Mu­seum of East Anglian Life in Stow­mar­ket, which spot­lights the world-fa­mous lawn mower and agri­cul­tural Ip­swich com­pany.

We thought about Dad a lot as we looked at the beau­ti­ful steam trac­tion en­gine and then learned more about the first lawn mower, power-driven mow­ers and Ran­somes peo­ple. And it gave us the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to ex­plain more to three-year-old Topsy about what Gran­dad did.

That’s what makes this mu­seum in Stow­mar­ket so spe­cial. There’s some­thing in it that we can all re­late to.

Whether it was mem­o­ries of Dad, an in­sight into how ru­ral life in our area has changed over the years or, in the case of Topsy, just pure fun, we had a great day out.

A visit to the mu­seum will doubt­less bring mem­o­ries flood­ing

back for grand­par­ents, and par­ents will learn lots too. Ef­forts have also been made to make the mu­seum ap­peal to chil­dren and ac­tiv­i­ties for young­sters are clearly la­belled through­out.

Whether it was find­ing (or hid­ing) the toy an­i­mals in the Ran­somes Story, pol­ish­ing up her letter and spelling skills in the by­gone print­ing sec­tion or dress­ing up, Topsy thor­oughly en­joyed her­self. And there was a play­ground as well which, as usual, was a great hit with her.

For older chil­dren, we thought the mu­seum would be even more ben­e­fi­cial.

Its clev­erly di­vided sec­tions in­clude Home Close, Work and Play, Home Farm, and River Rat Na­ture Area. There’s also the His­toric Ham­let, where you can see a Vic­to­rian kitchen and privy, Al­ton wa­ter­mill and Great Moul­ton chapel.

We loved the In­dus­trial Zone, where the Ran­somes Story was lo­cated, as well as the black­smith’s forge from Grundis­burgh and the Boby build­ing of trade and crafts.

This mu­seum is where town and country meet, and we en­joyed walk­ing the na­ture trail and meet­ing the farm an­i­mals.

We mar­velled at the orig­i­nal clock of Stow­mar­ket Parish Church from around 1620 and the Gau­mont chrono film pro­jec­tor that was used at the South­wold Cinema.

We were en­chanted by the Let­ter­press Print­ing sec­tion, show­ing how things were printed in times gone by.

There are 20 beau­ti­ful his­toric build­ings to ex­plore, in­clud­ing the wa­ter­mill and the his­toric chapel.

Ab­bot’s Hall house and gar­dens are stun­ning, and there was so much to see, read and learn through its var­i­ous dis­plays that we can’t wait to go back.

The ic­ing on the cake was the Osier Café where Mum en­joyed a mid­day meal while Topsy played on the toys that had been thought­fully placed in the out­side eat­ing area, en­sur­ing that the lit­tle ones are oc­cu­pied while the adults eat.

The Mu­seum of East Anglian Life is one of the big­gest mu­se­ums in Suf­folk. It oc­cu­pies more than 75 acres of coun­try­side in the heart of Stow­mar­ket.

We have walked past it more times than we care to re­mem­ber. We left won­der­ing how this gem of a mu­seum could be on our doorstep for years and yet we had never vis­ited it?

We plan to rem­edy that by re­turn­ing as soon as we can.

Ab­bot’s Hall at the Mu­seum of East Anglian Life in Stow­mar­ket.

Take a walk in the grounds at the mu­seum.

Mau­reen Ban­ham and happy grand­daugh­ter Topsy.

The Bur­rell Trac­tion En­gine is an im­pres­sive sight.

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