Exhibition on the 'perilous' practice of poaching

 Pony and Dead Game by Thomas Smythe 

Pony and Dead Game by Thomas Smythe - Credit: West Suffolk Heritage Service

A new exhibition exploring the illicit world of the poacher is opening at Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds on Saturday.

Running until May 1, 'By Night: Perspectives of Poaching', will present rural objects, art and literature from the darker side of West Suffolk Heritage Service’s collection to illustrate the perils and conflicts of the practice.

It will also include items on loan from the Museum of East Anglian Life, Bungay Museum and the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, which will provide invaluable additions to the narrative.

While the exhibition concentrates on the local history of hunting and poaching from the 18th to the 20th century, it also traces the roots of poaching back to the era of the Norman Conquest and examines how it can still prove a divisive subject, even today.

Moyse's Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds

Moyse's Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Sue Warren

Poachers might appear as a romantic outlaw such as in the tales of Robin Hood, but in other contexts they can be presented as decidedly more villainous.

In tackling this complex issue, the exhibition brings the origins, equipment, legends, allies, enemies and consequences of poaching into focus.

It seeks answers as to why people might risk their freedom and, in some cases, their lives in pursuit of the hunt.

Most Read

Visitors are also invited to form their own opinions as they trespass in the footsteps of the people who walked by night.

Ben Ridgeon, heritage officer at West Suffolk Council, said: “Poaching forms a key element of the crime and punishment gallery at Moyse’s Hall Museum, but in learning about these collections I found that there were still more stories to tell if we could offer this enthralling subject a wider stage. By Night: Perspectives on Poaching is that stage.”

By Night: Perspectives of Poaching will be open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sundays 12pm to 4pm from February 19 until May 1, 2022.

Admission: adult £5, concessions £4.50, child £3 (five-16 years).

Heritage Ticket holders can attend the exhibition free of charge. Tickets can be booked online here or for details call 01284 758000.

Moyse's Hall Museum, in the centre of Bury St St Edmunds, is run by West Suffolk Council.