Royalty graces west Suffolk
TWO famous market towns had a very royal flavour yesterday when the Duke of Gloucester conducted a whistle-stop tour of west Suffolk.The Queen's cousin visited two renowned business in Sudbury and officially re-opened Gainsborough's House, birthplace of the famous painter and now a gallery and museum devoted to his work, following a massive refurbishment programme.
TWO famous market towns had a very royal flavour yesterday when the Duke of Gloucester conducted a whistle-stop tour of west Suffolk.
The Queen's cousin visited two renowned business in Sudbury and officially re-opened Gainsborough's House, birthplace of the famous painter and now a gallery and museum devoted to his work, following a massive refurbishment programme.
He then moved on to the new Age Concern-owned Oasis Centre in Bury St Edmunds before finally visiting Culford School near the town.
The Duke was shown the results of the massive scheme carried out at Gainsborough's House before speaking to students in the museum's print gallery.
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Unveiling a commemorative plague, he then paid tribute to Thomas Gainsborough - describing him as Sudbury's “most creative son”.
He added: “Gainsborough is a national figure and so many people have enjoyed seeing his portraits and landscapes.
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“The museum should be congratulated for not only preserving his birthplace but also in realising this splendid achievement.”
Supported by a £417,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant, the project has included the installation of a lift, the fitting out of a study gallery and general redecoration and repair of the entire house.
Director Diane Perkins said: “It has been an amazingly busy couple of years with all the fund raising but we have now reached a point where the project is complete and the museum reopened.
“The grand opening by the Duke of Gloucester is the culmination of all that work and the fact we have had a member of the royal family here makes it even more exciting.
“The house looks fantastic and has been completely regenerated - and we are absolutely thrilled and delighted.”
Speaking at the launch, Sudbury town mayor Nigel Bennett told the EADT: “Gainsborough's House is an asset to the town and draws in a lot of visitors.
“This extension will hopefully bring in even more people to the town and help with the continued prosperity of Sudbury.”
The Duke of Gloucester was also given a guided tour of Vanners silk weavers and the Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company whose fabrics adorn royal palaces, embassies and stately homes.