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Suffolk museum celebrates 10th birthday

PUBLISHED: 05:36 30 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:13 24 February 2010

A WORLD-renowned Suffolk museum celebrated its 10th birthday with a special cake - and news that visitor numbers are rising.

People looking round the historic Manor House Museum in Bury St Edmunds yesterday were treated to a slice of cake before setting off on their tour of the museum's attractions.

A WORLD-renowned Suffolk museum celebrated its 10th birthday with a special cake - and news that visitor numbers are rising.

People looking round the historic Manor House Museum in Bury St Edmunds yesterday were treated to a slice of cake before setting off on their tour of the museum's attractions.

Maggie Goodger , Museums Manager for St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said the Manor House, which was once owned by the Bristol family of Ickworth Park, was flourishing.

The museum was internationally renowned for its clock collection and watches and also had a highly prized collection of costumes, particularly from the jazz age.

Although visitor numbers had dropped from the 30,000 people attracted in its first year, figures for this year were already well up on last year's totals, she said.

"We're already 1,500 above last year's total of 11,500 and we have until the end of March. It looks like the number of people visiting the museum this year will be considerably higher than last year," said the manager.

Mrs Goodger said: "We are well respected around the world and when locals come in they are very impressed but sometimes a great big Georgian building like this can be a bit intimidating and residents of the area can be a little reluctant to come in."

Activities such as a tea dance and tours of the old servants quarters of the building, which was built as the then Lady Bristol's town house, would help attract local people in.

The Residents' Week programme of events is being organised for February and exact details will be available from the museum in the next few days.

Mark Ereira, St Edmundsbury council's cabinet member for culture, said: "My congratulations go to all the dedicated staff at the Manor House whose enthusiasm has helped the museum to reach this milestone.

"Much has been achieved here over the past decade and I would encourage anyone to call in, especially if they haven't paid a visit for a while, and see what a fine range of treasures and fascinating exhibits are on display."

Some staff have been at the Manor House throughout its 10-year history as a museum. They recall the time when the museum displayed costumes from the BBC drama adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

A member of staff had to keep guard at all times to stop people touching actor Colin Firth's riding breeches, which he wore as Mr Darcy – and were drenched during his swim in the lake before one of his dramatic encounters with Elizabeth Bennet played by Jennifer Ehle.

To contact the museum telephone 01284 757072.

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