Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket appeals for public donations after 135 collection items stolen by thieves

A broken plate left by thieves. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A broken plate left by thieves. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The museum’s Collection and Interpretations Manager has appealed for members of the public to donate a range of vintage items, from Victorian toys to 1950s flying ducks.

A broken plate left by thieves. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A broken plate left by thieves. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A popular Stowmarket museum has appealed for donations from the community after hundreds of “irreplaceable” artefacts were stolen by thieves earlier this week.

Offenders broke into the 75-acre site of The Museum of East Anglian Life in the early hours on Monday after removing a padlock from a back gate and forced their way into a number of buildings.

Around 135 collection items were stolen during the theft – including white porcelain jars from the former Stern’s chemist in Stowmarket and hats and ties from Ranson’s Tailors in Lavenham.

Lead was also stripped from the back wall of Abbot’s Hall, causing damage to the roof and brickwork of the Grade II-listed house, which was built in 1709.

Lisa Harris, Collection and Interpretation Manager at the museum, said the theft was “really heartbreaking” and the museum would have to rely on donations from the public in order to rebuild the collections.

“I don’t think we will be able to replace all of the items; you cannot just go to a shop and buy them,” she said.

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“We will have to rely on the public to help us.”

Specifically the museum would appreciate donations of any Victorian toys and galvanised metal basins, items relating to old chemists, 1950s flying ducks (as seen in the popular soap opera Coronation Street), and vintage wicker baskets.

The museum has confirmed that it will be investing in advanced security measures to protect against future burglaries.

Ms Harris added that, despite the theft of important items used in school workshops, such as Victorian toys and cookware, the museum would “find a way” to keep the visits going.

Jenny Cousins, director of the museum, described the incident as “extremely sad”.

“The collections reflect the community’s history and are there for the benefit of local people,” she said.

“It is extremely sad that this has happened. We ask anyone with knowledge to contact the police.

“We also encourage members of the public at car boot sales, antique stores or on eBay to keep an eye out for objects which have marks on them which look like museum numbers.

“They would be small and handwritten – usually in the following form 81.A.61/12/1,2.”

Anyone who witnessed any suspicious behaviour should contact Stowmarket police on 101, quoting crime reference 37/5439/18.”

Alternatively, anyone with information can contact independent crime fighting charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111 or visit their website – – and fill in an online form.