Inside the Museum

Welcome to Halesworth & District Museum and we hope you enjoy your visit. This leaflet seeks to tell you a little about our Museum which we hope will make your visit more interesting.

You will have entered through the lobby. This houses much information about the railway at this Victorian station, including the working model of the unique moveable platforms. The display case lays out the first days of its history from its opening in 1854. Note the brass plaques to those killed on the railway.

The main Museum area is called The Holland Clarke Room and named in memory of the Station Master, Herbert William Holland aged 55, his wife Hannah Holland aged 59 and Joan Elizabeth Clarke aged 19, their servant, who died at 1.55pm on 18 January 1941 when the station was bombed; they were the only WW2 fatalities in Halesworth.

Halesworth, with a current population around 4,700, is a small market town in N.E. Suffolk. As you enter the Holland Clarke Room, you will see an 1884 map of Halesworth on the wall opposite. The villages that form the ‘District’ of Halesworth & District Museum surround the town.

The open display and display cases in the centre of the room and first on the right are presently showing a display, The Bulcamp House of Industry: In the Workhouse, an exhibition to mark the 250th anniversary of the opening of the Blything House of Industry, later the Blything Union Workhouse, then Blythburgh & District Hospital, and now converted to housing. A story marked by rioting, hardship and compassion.

Past the open display, moving around the room clockwise, the geology and archaeology of the area from pre-historic times is lain out. Did you know that fieldwork and excavations have established occupation going back 8,000 years to Mesolithic times? There are some more detailed information sheets that expand on the information in the cases – the Steward will be pleased to help you find them.

Half way down, stop to look at the fascinating interactive 3D model and imagine life in Tudor Halesworth as you listen to the commentary. On the shelf in the corner are two fragments of wattle and daub material that formed part of the walls of buildings in town.

In the cabinet at the far end are the Wissett Hoards, Bronze Age axe heads, spears and a rapier blade; ask the Steward if you would like to look more closely and marvel at these 3000-year old artefacts.

Don’t miss the large screen in the corner with its 1950s and 60s film of local people going about their daily business, before continuing to the last two cases recalling rural life and local industries, particularly of the 19th century. Pause for a moment and look round the whole room – the Museum has many large pictures and tradesmen’s boards, some of which are exhibited above the display cases.

Young people are not forgotten and there are handling trays with fossils and pottery fragments that children of all ages will enjoy, along with brass-rubbing material, books and ‘detective’ backpacks for children to use with the Halesworth Town Trail.

Before you leave, down the short corridor past the map of Halesworth, visit our study and resource room for people wanting to research local and family history.  This houses much local history information and has internet access. Note that, in addition to the displays, we have a large reference collection which can be inspected by prior arrangement – ask the Steward on duty.

Stop lastly at reception, where the Museum has a small range of interesting and reasonably priced publications for sale which will complement your visit; a list is attached. If you have enjoyed your visit, have any comments or would like to become more involved we should be delighted to hear from you. Our Stewards are ready to answer your questions, and explain about volunteering and becoming a Friend of the Museum; we welcome your comments and suggestions. Leave your details or email us, and we will be in touch.

Finally, please sign our Visitors’ Book,

Goodbye, and we hope to see you again!

The primary purpose of a museum is to safeguard and preserve the heritage as a whole. UNESCO

Entry to our Museum is free, but we do rely on visitors donations to help us maintain it. A donation as little as 30p per person is all that is needed.

In addition to the displays we have a large reference collection which can be inspected by prior arrangement with the curator.