Grand plans for hall after lottery boost

A MAJOR revamp at one of the most popular museums in Suffolk has been given the go-ahead by planning officials.

The proposals to transform the Museum of East Anglian Life, in Stowmarket, have been backed by a successful fundraising campaign and bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The team at the museum, which celebrates rural and agricultural life in the region over the centuries, has now secured almost all of the �2.7million funding for the first phase of the project.

The work will see Abbot’s Hall, the 18th Century Queen Anne country house at the heart of the site, transformed into a nine- gallery display space.

A new entrance to the site will also be created to link the museum with the town’s market place, while access routes and two disused cottages will also be updated and improved.


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Tony Butler, museum director, said it was fantastic news for everyone connected with the site and the changes would help put the museum right at the heart of the town.

He said: “What the project is going to do is open up the entrance from the town. You will be able to walk up from the market place, through the trees towards Abbot’s Hall.

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“This will be an entrance we have never had before. It’s a real step change for the museum because it brings the glamorous building [Abbot’s Hall] alongside our more workaday buildings.”

The funding has been boosted by a �100,000 grant from Mid Suffolk District Council and �150,000 from Suffolk County Council – the museum now needs to find just �200,000 to see the work through.

The museum – known as MEAL – covers a 75 acre site and relies heavily on a team of volunteers, who last year gave more than 42,000 hours of their time to help out.

It also boasts a collection of animals, including Suffolk Punches and red poll cattle, as well as a number of historic barns and other buildings housing displays charting everyday life in East Anglia.

To find out more about events, exhibitions and opening times at the museum, visit www.eastanglianlife.org.uk.

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