A wealth of history to explore during the summer holidays in heritage-rich Suffolk and Essex
- Credit: citizenside.com
Steeped in a wealth of history, and home to England’s Oldest Town, there is more to Suffolk than meets the eye. And neighbouring Essex is equally as rich in heritage.
Discover more about this fascinating region by visiting one of the many cultural attractions on offer.
From birdwatching to historic houses, museums and castles, there is plenty to occupy the whole family during your staycation this summer.
Sutton Hoo, Woodbridge- One of the greatest archaeological discoveries
Sutton Hoo is home to Anglo-Saxon burial mounds, each one of the mounds being the grave of an Anglo-Saxon noble. The first mound held a 90ft boat holding swords, spears, shields, helmets and exquisite jewellery of garnet and gold made of the highest quality. This summer’s special exhibition, Ghost Ship of Sutton Hoo, celebrates the story of famous boat.
In the year 2000, when archaeologists excavated a corner of Sutton Hoo in preparation for the construction of the Exhibition Hall and the visitor’s service buildings, a new discovery was found which would create a new chapter in Sutton Hoo’s history.
Visit the Edwardian Tranmer House and step back in the past and imagine life just before the Second World War. Opening times: 10.30am to 5pm.
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Admission: Adult: £7.90, Child: £3.95, Family: £19.50, Group adult: £6.85, Group child: £3.45.
Orford Castle- One of Suffolk’s best-kept secrets
The pretty town and neighbouring port were created by Henry II and are overlooked by the polygonal tower keep. The castle is remarkably remains very much intact allowing visitors to explore at all levels.
You can delve deep in the basement, or stroll through the upper and lower halls to the roof.
From there you can admire the amazing views to Orford Ness. There is also a kitchen, a chapel and more chambers, all leading off a maze of passages.
Opening times: 10am to 6pm.
Admission: Adult: £6.50, Child (5-15 years): £3.90, Concession: £5.90, Family(2 Adults, 3 Children): £17.00
Minsmere- There’s a lot to see and hear at Minsmere
Wonderful wetland, woodland and coastal scenes, rare birds breeding and popping in on their migrations, shy wildlife like otters, beautiful bugs and colourful wild flowers. You’ll find plenty to enjoy at Minsmere whenever you visit.
Choose an excellent walk or go to the coastal lagoons to see an incredible variety of birds, check the reedbeds as well, perhaps there’s an otter there? Visit the visitors centre, there’s a Discovery Centre and Wild Zone for families, as well as guided walks.
Opening times: 10am to 5pm.
Admission: RSPB members and Under 5’s go free. Non-member adults: £8, Children (under 19): £4, Concessions: £5.50, Family offer: one child free with two paying adults.
Ickworth House, Bury St Edmunds- An amazing architectural oddity
See how one man’s eccentric passion for art, Italy and parties led to the construction of this incredible house and its renowned collection of portraits, paintings, furniture and other treasures. Learn about the servants and workers who kept the estate running and hear their memories.
Discover what ‘upstairs downstairs’ life was really like in the Rotunda basement or walk through one of the finest, and maybe earliest, Italianate gardens in England.
Opening times: See site for opening times http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ickworth/opening-times/.
Admission: Park and gardens only: Adult: £6.25, Child: £3.15, Family: £15.90, Group adult: £5.50. Whole Property: Adult: £12.60, Child: £6.35, Family: £31.55, Group adult: £11.
Ipswich Museum- All you want to know about England’s Oldest Town
See the woolly mammoth known as Wool.i.am, the famous Rhino and take a journey from the Iron Age through to the arrival of the Saxons as you explore the past of Ipswich.
You can learn about the history of other cultures as well, and visit the Egyptian Gallery.
Opening times: Tuesday-Saturday: 10am to 5pm, Closed Sundays and Mondays.
Christchurch Mansion- One of the most iconic sights in Ipswich
Christchurch Mansion was built in the 1500s and bought by the town in 1895. Inside the mansion there is an extensive collection of art to view with fine art from the Tudor and Stuart period, collections of art from lesser known Suffolk artists such as John Moore, Alfred Munnings and Thomas Churchyard, and collections of modern art.
Christchurch Park surrounds this mansion with 70 acres of parkland making a perfect destination for a family day out.
Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday, 10am to 5pm, Closed Mondays.
The Mid-Suffolk Light Railway Museum- A great family day out
At Brockford not only will you find a full size collection of locomotives but also the museum exhibition hall which is home to a collection of smaller artefacts, models and documents which tell the story of the building, operation and decline of the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway Museum, or Middy for short.
There are photographic displays that span the Middy’s existence from its early days to the present.
Opening times: 11am to 5pm.
Admission: Non-event days season ticket: Adults: £2.50, Concession: £2, Child: £1, Family (2 + 2): £6. Event days season ticket: Adults: £6, Concession: £4.50, Child: £3, Family (2 + 2): £15.
Framlingham Castle- 800 year old fortress
Framlingham Castle, built in the 12th century, has a very colourful history. Did you know Framlingham Castle used to be the home of Mary Tudor before she was made Queen in 1553?
With trails and audio tours you will be able to learn everything about this fascinating historical attraction, at your own pace.
There are also spectacular views along the Mere and on the wall-walk.
Opening times: 10am to 6pm everyday.
Admission: Adult: £7.20, Child (5-15 years): £4.30, Concession: £6.50, Family (2 Adults, 3 Children): £18.70
Hollytrees Museum, Colchester- A fine Georgian Building.
Hollytrees has played a key part in Colchester’s history over the past 300 years. Discover how the rich and the poor used to live side by side in this Roman town. Or dress up as a servant and try out a dolly peg.
See the dolls houses and find out more about the origins of the nursery rhyme Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which is linked to Colchester.
Opening times: Monday-Saturday: 10am to 5pm, Closed Sundays.
Natural History Museum, Colchester- Biodiversity and wildlife habitats.
The Natural History Museum gives you a fascinating insight into how the natural world works. You can discover more about the diverse creatures that used to roam in Colchester, learn about the salt marshes, and the earth beneath you.
There are also plenty of hands-on activities for youngsters.
Opening times: Tuesday-Saturday: 10am to 5pm, Sunday: 11am to 5pm, Closed Mondays.