Saxmundham Museum is in the heart of rural Suffolk, recording and preserving the history of Saxmundham, Kelsale-cum-Carlton and Benhall. The IP17 area is one of the largest postal areas in the UK and has been a very important part of east coastal Suffolk.
There are a few explanations for the meaning of the town name, some believe that it refers to the home of a warrior lord called Seismund or Seizmond.
Hosting the Suffolk Show on many occasions in the past, the town has changed over the years with the loss of the livestock market, replaced by a modern large store, and the mixed fortunes of the A12 bypass taking traffic away from the high street.
We have a touch-screen display that allows access to many photos of days gone by. Take the time to browse, you’ll see photos of mills, streets and people of yesterday.
One image in particular, with lorries crowding the high street, shows why the bypass was needed.
At first glance Saxmundham Museum looks tiny. However once you’re inside, you’ll see why Saxmundham was once one of the most important towns in East Suffolk.
Saxmundham Museum has five main rooms:
First, you’ll be transported back to the late 1940s and a complete station booking office, with staff, ladies room, etc. Take a peep through the booking office window to see the staff hard at work.
The model of Saxmundham railway station shows the pedestrian bridge that once connected the north and southbound platforms. The colour photograph of the town from the air is a new addition for 2015.
The Green Room is packed with local history and fascinating artifacts.
We also have a replica of the head of Claudius (the original cast being found in Rendham).
This is were you will find the touch-screen showing our collection of photgraphs.
Next, you’ll find yourself in our cinema.
By the end of the First World War the ‘Kinema’ was opened in the High Street by C.R. Punchard. In 1934 Captain Atkinson converted a building
in Church Street to form the Playhouse cinema. It continued to show films and Saturday matinees until 1962 when it finally closed and the building became a car showroom for Smith and Wesby. The site is now occupied by a well known supermarket.
Our cinema plays homage to the Playhouse. Settle down under the watchful eye of the usherette and pass an hour watching bye-gone days, sitting in the tip-up seats. Photographs and further information are on display alongside one of the original projectors from the Playhouse.
The cinema seats twelve and is available for hire to host your own movie evening.
As you walk on to the Courtyard you’ll be amazed by our street scene, with replica shops from Saxmundham.
Look for the cell where the Beadle and the prisoner talk over his crime! Find out what happened to the man and what colour he ended up!
Hear a snippet of their conversation...
Can you work out what the 'Drawing Competion' is all about (hint: it didn't involve pencils)? Come and have a look in Crisp's shop.
The Exhibition Room display this year showcases Saxmundham Schools.
Lots of Middle School photographs, lots of reference material to look at and papers to take away if they relate to you or your family.
The exhibition traces the local provision of education from its tangible beginnings up to the present day.
There is a specific focus on the Modern School, which closed in 1973, becoming the Middle School from 1973 to 2012, after which the Free School that we have today.
If the names of these characters take you back to your school days, then this exhibition will be of special interest to you ... Mr. Westthorpe, Mr. Rasmussen, Miss Addy, Mr. Minton, Mr. Lovett, Mrs. Dudley, Mrs. Free, Mr. Short ... and more recently, Mr. Atherton
This is a real community display, where local people, who may never have previously visited the Museum, are encouraged to do so, along with their family and friends.
And it will be of general interest too, charting the many and varied places of education from Mr. Sparrow’s Academy in Albion Street to a girls ‘Finishing School’ in Church House.
It’s on for one season only, don’t miss it!
Some oral reminiscences.
A delightful museum, most enjoyable. What a wonderful collection , well displayed, quirky and welcoming.
M & W M.
"Excellent. Really comprehensive collection"
Mr & Mrs T.
"Very interesting. A worthwhile visit"
Mr & Mrs B.
"Great schools display"
"What an excellent Museum"
"Loved the Museum"
"Wonderful. Wish we had more time"
Mr & Mrs B.
"A credit to Saxmundham"
"Will be back!"