This week it was my turn to nearly supervise a small installation and make sure that no harm came to the Grade II listed stable block and its fittings . This exhibition ‘Suffolk Horse Power’ tells the story of the Suffolk Punch horse, a local agricultural breed famed for its strength and endurance pulling farm equipment, but now in danger of disappearing after tractors became popular across East Anglia in the 1950s. Herbert Longe bought Abbot’s Hall in 1903 and bred the Suffolk Punch until about 1939, but must have sold them as he bought 2 horses to work the farm during the war. This strong link to Abbot’s Hall and important historical events is part of the reason we still have a Suffolk Punch at the museum.
The Suffolk Punch timeline being hung
Achilles the stallion beingbixed to the bars without damage.
Normally when people talk about hanging an exhibition, they mean attaching pictures to walls using brackets and screws, but working in the Victorian stable block (a Grade II listed building) meant that we couldn’t drill any holes, and everything had to hang from string looped round lots of different supports.
A timeline of the Suffolk Punch’s history hangs from rafters 2 metres above, old photos hang from rustic metal brackets and full-size photograph of a Suffolk Punch is carefully held in position by screws placed between metal bars and into blocks of left-over wood.
It was a long, cold day, but worth it in the end – the stable block has been brought to life to celebrate the story of a true local farming icon.
‘Suffolk Horse Power: Our Living Heritage’ is open until 4th November 2016 during normal museum opening hours. Entry is free.
Our entry for Suffolk Museums Object of the Year contest 2016, for which voting is now open here: http://suffolkmuseums.org/museums/
The Stowmarket church clock with its Meccano-like appearance is an object that intrigues and fascinates visitors to the Museum of East Anglian Life. The story of the clock is one of community inclusion and progress. Dating from 1620, the clock announced the time through its carillon of bells, as it didn’t have a face.
The carillon and clock mechanism are now separate, but would have been connected to chime the time and a selection of 5 different hymns. The bells shared both the time and the act of worship with the people and landscape which would help create and sustain Stowmarket’s economic force in the centuries to come.
The clock mechanism, with the smaller internal clock face still attached (left). The museum’s metal support allows the weights (right) to drive the mechanism throughout the day.
The clock’s carillon mechanism, with a large cylinder for striking hymn tunes, and a smaller cylinder to sound the time.
In 1837, a clock face was added to the outside of the tower. A smaller face on the same mechanism was mounted inside, providing a physical link between the internal structure and the role of the church in the wider community – three centuries earlier, the church of St Peter and St Paul welcomed the congregation of St Mary’s church following its demolition, uniting two communities in the church of St Peter and St Mary as we know it today.
The clock is still wound at the start of each day, and we are proud that such a long-standing symbol of unity between town and country, agricultural and economic strength still ticks as it marks the passage of time in the Museum’s Boby building,
Click the bottom-right link on the Suffolk Museums homepage, and scroll down to the bottom to vote for the “correct” museum.
The Boby building is on the top field of the Museum’s main site and is open during the high season to paying visitors.