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UPDATED: Over 100 irreplaceable items stolen in raid on Museum of East Anglian Life




Abbot's Hall, Museum of East Anglian Life
Abbot's Hall, Museum of East Anglian Life

Thieves have stolen more than 100 irreplaceable items and stripped lead from a historic building in a raid on a Suffolk museum.

About 135 items were taken from the Museum of East Anglian Life, in Stowmarket, as well as lead from the back roof of the museum’s Grade II listed Abbot’s Hall.

Outside shot of Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket
Outside shot of Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket

The objects are used to tell the stories of everyday lives in the local area and included white porcelain jars from the former Stearn’s Chemist in Stowmarket.

Among the other items were straw fedoras and bowler hats as well as silk ties from Ranson’s Tailors, in Lavenham.

There were also objects used for the museum’s schools workshops including Victorian toys and cookware as well as historic advertising signs such as Hornsby Oil Engines and Esso Blue.

Jenny Cousins, museum director, said: “It’s terribly sad and terribly disappointing that people would steal from a community asset because really the museum belongs to everyone.

Displays affected by the break-in.
Displays affected by the break-in.

“They took the lead off the roof of Abbot’s Hall which is one of our star buildings and in doing so they damaged some of the brickwork and guttering.

“Obviously that’s upsetting but it’s less upsetting than the collection items that have gone missing which in themselves are not high value items but they’ve a lot of cultural value.

“They really are things you can’t get another one of.”

The thieves broke into the museum’s 75-acre site via a back gate in Lockington Road at some point overnight between Sunday, January 28 and Monday, January 29.

Displays affected by the break-in.
Displays affected by the break-in.

On site, they broke into four buildings and took items from three of them.

Various wooden doors were damaged and padlocks forcibly removed in the incident.

Jenny added: “We ask anyone with knowledge to contact the police.

“We also encourage members of the public at car boot sales, antique stores or on eBay to keep an eye out for objects which have marks on them which look like museum numbers.

Displays affected by the break-in.
Displays affected by the break-in.

“They would be small and handwritten – usually in the following form ‘81.A.61/12/1,2’.”

Anyone with information should call Suffolk Police on 101 quoting reference 37/5439/18.



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