Suffolk is home to countless intriguing museums and sites of interest for avid history seekers. The curious visitor can while away many a pleasant hour perusing interesting artifacts and ephemera of yesteryear.
From a tiny Aladdin’s cave of forgotten treasures to grand stately homes displaying beloved heirlooms, the Suffolk coast is home to numerous places where you can delve into the past and uncover new knowledge.
East Anglia Transport Museum
The unique East Anglia Transport Museum museum is a treasure-trove for fans of vintage automobiles; a living, working site where visitors can see a wide range of historical vehicles displayed in a way that brings history to life.
Take a stroll along the museum street where, along with trams and trolleybuses, you can take in the old post boxes, phone boxes and streetlights. Here you can learn all about the development of transport, including steam and electric powered vehicles, commercial vehicles and of course Lowestoft’s trams. Visitors can even take a ride on some of the vehicles- a literal trip down memory lane.
Aldeburgh Museum is housed in the iconic Moot Hall, a superb 16th Century, Grade 1 listed timber -framed building that is also home to the Town Council.
The museum tells of Aldeburgh's rich and varied history through hands-on and digital displays. You can learn all about the beautiful Tudor building, local democracy, the fishing and shipbuilding industry, archaeological discoveries and the Anglo Saxons, the Victorian era, the Witches of Aldeburgh and much more!
Suffolk Punch Trust
Visit The Suffolk Punch Trust and you can explore the Heritage Museum where you’ll find the exhibition hall and museum of rural life, take one of the three pretty walks around the farm (dogs on leads are welcome), meet other rare Suffolk breeds such as Suffolk sheep, Red Poll cattle, Silver Appleyard ducks and Ixworth chickens, and see the collection of over sixty horse-drawn vehicles, vintage implements and machinery.
The Trust also hosts a range of activities including all sorts of horse care tips, such as how to harness a horse and braid its mane and tractor-trailer rides around the site.
At Felixstowe Museum you can uncover Felixstowe’s rich past, taking a whirlwind tour through the history of this fascinating seaside town. Collections include ancient archaeological finds such as prehistoric mammoth tusks, Roman coins, jewellery and pots.
There is also an extensive range of Victorian and Edwardian artefacts, as well as military paraphernalia. The most unique exhibition has to be the ‘history of psychiatric care through the ages’ which gives an insight into the lives of the thousands of staff and patients who lived and worked at St Audry’s hospital.
The beautiful Christchurch Mansion is a Tudor building boasting over 500 years of history and is at the center of Ipswich’s historic past. Built on the site of the 12th Century Holy Trinity Priory, the building has seen many changes over time and now exists as an homage to period décor throughout the years; from the Tudors to the Georgians and Victorians.
Each room is set up in period fashion, evoking the atmosphere of times gone by. During your visit you can also go to to the Wolsey art Gallery, which displays changing exhibitions of local art and sculpture, alongside work by the famous Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable.
The Long Shop Museum
Those with a keen interest in engineering and industry must pay a visit to the Long Shop Museum in Leiston, where they will uncover inspiring stories and feats of engineering, gorgeous designs and examples of steam powered factory machinery. The original grade two listed buildings house a selection of Garrett’s machinery, tools and artifacts from the industrial revolution.
The museum boasts the deepest well in Suffolk as well as the chance to explore the atmospheric galleries with their collection of guns and ammunition. There are plenty of chances to get hands on with history, including dressing up, having a go at making sand moulds in the pattern boxes and taking engine rubbings.
Bawdsey Radar Museum
Visit the birthplace of operational radar and discover the stories of the men and women who worked in top-secret conditions to develop this groundbreaking piece of technology that secured victory in the battle of Britain.
At Bawdsey Radar you can hear the oral histories as spoken by the individuals at the heart of the landmark development in communications and look through the exhibitions to discover the science behind this amazing invention.
Woodbridge Tide Mill
This fascinating restored working tide mill is Woodbridge’s most iconic attraction. Visitors can marvel at the production of flour using this age old method, exploring the inner workings of a water powered mill, including the 5 meter wide English oak water wheel as it churns away.
Audio stations bring to life stories from the past from the people for whom the mill was a central part of their life. Make your way up to the crown floor for stunning views out over the River Deben and learn how we used to make our daily bread.
National Trust Sutton Hoo
This vast and stunning 255-acre estate at National Trust Sutton Hoo is home to one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of all time; the Anglo Saxon ship burial and the hoard of treasure found alongside it in 1939. Today visitors can stroll among the many burial mounds or go inside the main house and garden to learn more about the iconic Saxon King and the legacy he left behind, including replicas of the many precious items, and the King’s full regalia, suspended from the ceiling- an awe inspiring sight.
The Red House, Aldeburgh
Many people will be familiar with the name ‘Benjamin Britten’; one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, but fewer people will know that he lived for a large portion of his life in the Red House in Aldeburgh. Britten moved into the house in 1957 with his life partner, the tenor Peter Pears and the house contains a display of some of Britten’s most important possessions including music, photos and books.
Visitors to the house today can see the beloved house and gardens where the couple spent 20 happy years as well as taking stock of the vast archive of important manuscripts and source materials which make the house an important center for music research.
Discover the rich military and maritime heritage of Landguard Fort, one of England's best preserved coastal defences, with a history spanning almost 450 years. It is also the site of the last opposed seaborne invasion of England in 1667, and the first land battle of the Royal Marines.
Experience the dramatic story of this important fortification through both audio guides and guided tours. With a maze of rooms and passageways, bastion view points, artefacts, displays, exhibitions and special events, Landguard Fort offers something for all ages and interests.
Woodbridge Riverside Trust
At their home The Longshed, Woodbridge Riverside Trust invites you to watch as the construction of the replica of the Anglo-Saxon Burial ship that was excavated at Sutton Hoo takes place, along with the construction of a St Ayles four man racing skiff.
You can also find out about all aspects of maritime heritage and culture including the heritage and science of ship design and construction, how rivers and the sea influenced people’s lives, what factors are important in building boats for different purposes and how boat construction has changed over time, how boats have been used as transport for produce and for people, where people travelled to and from Suffolk in boats and songs, music and stories of the River Deben and the sea.
See the world through Victorian eyes and take a trip around a global zoo at Ipswich Museum!
Meet gorillas, lions and wild animals from around the globe in the historic natural history gallery, and have your photo taken with Wool.I.Am - a life size woolly mammoth!
The Museum is also home to a wide range of collections, from natural science to Egyptology, social history to world cultures including the Ogilvie Bird collection, Rendlesham archaeology collections and the Death mask of Titos Flavious Demetrios.