Suffolk: Celebrating the county’s rich heritage

St Peter's Church in Sudbury opens its doors to the public as part of the Heritage Open Days. Left t

St Peter's Church in Sudbury opens its doors to the public as part of the Heritage Open Days. Left to right, Sudbury Mayor Robert Spivey, Peter Gray, Alan Douglas (Long Melford Ringers) and Hilary Spivey. - Credit: Archant

Law-abiding citizens in west Suffolk got a brief taste of life behind bars when the local magistrates’ court opened to the public as part of a nationwide celebration of the country’s heritage buildings.

Across the county, Suffolk celebrated its many historic landmarks over the weekend to coincide with the Heritage Open Days event, which was established in 1994 to give visitors free access to buildings that are either not usually open to the public, or would normally charge an entrance fee.

Visitors to the Magistrates’ Court in Bury St Edmunds were able to experience a mock trial, view the different courts and get a flavour of how the system has changed over the years.

They visited the cells and discovered what it is like to be locked up ‘downstairs’ while waiting to be heard in the court.

Elsewhere in Bury, history buffs could enjoy tours of the Norman Tower, go behind the scenes at the local fire station and view the Suffolk Regiment Museum.

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In Sudbury, town mayor Robert Spivey tried his hand at bell-ringing during an open day at St Peter’s Church.

With guided tours, craft stalls, musical entertainment and children’s crafts, the Friends of St Peter’s were keen to show off the many features of the historic community building which was unfairly dubbed a “relic of the past” by TV presenter Fiona Bruce.

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The newly-refurbished mayor’s parlour, heritage centre, ephemera archive and assembly rooms were also open at the town hall.

In the east of the county 53 different activities were offered by organisers of Felixstowe’s third Heritage Open Days Weekend, including exhibitions, talks, guided walks, and open buildings.

Maritime Woodbridge – a celebration of the town’s heritage, both nautical and on-shore – was also scheduled to coincide with the weekend of events.

In Ipswich, more than 30 historic and significant buildings opened to the public.

As well as promoting its history, the event gave people more knowledge about the town’s connections with the likes of Thomas Wolsey, Charles Dickens, Enid Blyton, King Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson.

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