Nav­i­gat­ing his way around his home town, espe­cially those in­spi­ra­tional wa­ter mead­ows, young Thomas Gains­bor­ough cer­tainly wouldn’t have had the lux­ury of to­day’s handy short-cut along the for­mer rail­way track-bed path.

The Stour quay­side would have been busy with ‘lighters’, flat-bot­tomed barges, moved and steered with long oars called ‘sweeps’ and the power of the river cur­rents. They would be fer­ry­ing goods, in­clud­ing lo­cally made bricks, to Lon­don. The lands were prob­a­bly still put to prac­ti­cal use by lo­cal tex­tile pro­duc­ers. But a Stour-side wan­der across Fulling Pit Mead­ows and Free­man’s Great and Lit­tle Com­mons would have surely been fa­mil­iar and a source of in­spi­ra­tion to the young painter. Don’t miss his birth­place in Gains­bor­ough Street, now Gains­bor­ough’s House Mu­seum, and the statue in his hon­our on Mar­ket Hill. Well worth a visit are the town’s im­pres­sive churches like All Saints, at­tended by Gains­bor­ough as a boy and which found its way into the Mr & Mrs An­drews land­scape, along with build­ings from Mrs An­drew’s child­hood home, Balling­don Hall.

Gains­bor­ough’s House 46 Gains­bor­ough Street, Sud­bury CO10 2EU

T: 01787 372958 E: mail@gains­bor­ Vis­i­tor en­trance and shop: Weavers Lane, at the side of the house. In­for­ma­tion: gains­bor­

Belchamp Hall has spe­cial tours on Au­gust 10 and Septem­ber 17 and 18. Book­ing es­sen­tial: in­vi­ta­tion­

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