Cas­tle keep­sakes

Fram­ling­ham’s Lan­man Mu­seum

EADT Suffolk - - INSIDE - WORDS & PHO­TOS: Lind­say Want

From its twisted Tu­dor chim­neys to its mag­i­cal views across the mere to Fram’ (you-can-call-me-Hog­warts) Col­lege, Fram­ling­ham Cas­tle is full of sur­prises all year round. Visit in spring and the earth­work banks are dot­ted with yel­low prim­roses and tiny vi­o­lets. In sum­mer it’s the prime view­ing plat­form for the town’s his­toric Gala. Come au­tumn, the owls are on the wing and in win­ter, its reg­u­lar open­ing times and warm wel­come in­side make it the ideal spot for a lo­cal out­ing. At Ed Sheeran’s Cas­tle on the Hill, you’re al­ways sure to get more than you bar­gained for, but a ticket to visit doesn’t in­clude just one at­trac­tion.

For­tu­nately, there was no ques­tion of the cas­tle giv­ing the town’s Lan­man Mu­seum its march­ing orders dur­ing the site’s re­cent ma­jor re­furb. Now warmer, brighter, more en route visit-wise, and - thanks to the new lift – more ac­ces­si­ble than ever, this blast of the past seems to be charm­ing greater au­di­ences by the day.

“When English Her­itage came into be­ing in 1984, it gave the mu­seum a home here,“shares John Bridges, the em­i­nent lo­cal his­to­rian, au­thor and chair of the mu­seum trustees. “Mr Lan­man and the much-for­got­ten Mr Stan­nard were the prime movers be­hind the col­lec­tion in the 1950s, and it has had sev­eral homes in its time.” He ex­plains how in­ter­est grew out of a 1953 ex­hi­bi­tion in the old as­sem­bly rooms where proud lo­cals pro­vided hun­dreds of ex­hibits from a Ro­man coin to an his­toric mo­tor­car. Af­ter its first of­fi­cial spot on Mar­ket Hill in 1957, the mu­seum moved on to Dou­ble Street and the Old Court­house, but it seems that in­fil­trat­ing the great lo­cal fortress had al­ways been an in­ten­tion. “I ac­tu­ally found an early let­ter from Mr Stan­nard to the Min­istry of

Works ef­fec­tively ask­ing, can we have a mu­seum in your cas­tle? I don’t think he ever got a re­ply.”

“Mum, what are these?” Hav­ing grazed her way round fos­sils and Vic­to­rian trin­kets be­neath tall clocks, shop signs, swords, sur­vey­ors’ wheels and a push-bike all care­fully at­tached to walls, joists and rafters, a small girl in a big coat comes to a stop in front of a rather dour case of ra­tion books, her eye caught by colour­ful rib­bons. Her mother bobs down, shares the wow fac­tor of the wartime medals along with their story out­lined on an ad­ja­cent card, then lifts her up to point out chess­men in the cabi­net above. It’s a touch­ing mo­ment as the young pony en­thu­si­ast truly ad­mires the horses’ heads, carved out of box­wood with penknives by ‘Fram’ lads in the trenches of France.

At the other end of the room a nois­ier dis­cov­ery soon proves too much of a dis­trac­tion. By H H Lan­man’s shop-win­dow filled with shoes, dad and lit­tle brother have found not just an an­cient type­writer, but an his­toric Ap­ple com­puter both with clat­ter­ing ‘key­boards’. Some­how the old Mac is as rel­e­vant and at home here as the dip-pens, inkwell and writ­ing slates. The 1950s Re­gal Cinema mem­o­ra­bilia may re­mind John of his first out­ing to see The Tit­field Thun­der­bolt, the black­smith’s bits and bobs may take him back to be­ing “an ‘ickle’ lad, see­ing Ernie Lev­erett shoe­ing Suf­folk horses at the forge.” Who knows? Per­haps, one day, Ed Sheeran’s gui­tar will sit along­side the town band’s trom­bone.

‘Some­how the old Mac is as rel­e­vant as the dip-pens’

ABOVE:The Lan­man Mu­seum at Fram­ling­ham Cas­tle

BELOW:John Bridges, chair of the mu­seum trustees

BELOW RIGHT:One of the iconic chim­neys at Fram­ling­ham Cas­tle

RIGHT:At Fram­ling­ham Cas­tle,The Lan­man Mu­seum records the rich his­tory of Fram­ling­ham and its peo­ple.

BELOW LEFT:John Bridges, with some town mem­o­ra­bilia

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