The saying goes, you learn something new everyday. Seize the opportunity to learn all sorts of somethings by visiting one of the many museums in Suffolk. Discover the local history with how Suffolk played a role in the First and Second World Wars, learn about Anglo Saxons kings and even see a wooly mammoth! Dive into the past this autumn which our helpful museum guide.
The village of Rendlesham certainly has an interesting history as the seat of Anglo Saxon kings as the way to its use as an airbase during the Second World War. Bentwaters Parks sits just outside of the village, and is home to Bentwaters Cold War Museum. The museum opened in 2007, located in the former USAF command post. The main war operations room and battle cabin have been restored to their original conditions, and several other rooms have been restored while some are now used as exhibition rooms. The museum details the history of RAF Bentwaters from the Second World War up until the station was closed in 1993. A great stop for those interested in military history and to see how a small Suffolk village played its role during some of Britain’s most dangerous decades. The museum is open on the first and third Sunday of every month from March to October, and group visits can be arranged at other times.
In Woodbridge by the River Deben it’s hard to miss The Tide Mill Living Museum. With it’s brilliantly white walls, you are sure to spot the Tide Mill if you’s down by the riverfront. What you won’t see from the outside, however, is the mill in action - as it one of the few working tide mills in the country. Dating back to the twelfth century, the Tide Mill was used for 800 years before it was closed in 1957. Through protection and restoration work, the Tide Mill was reopened in 1973 as a fully working tide mill. Today you can pay a visit to this wonderful living museum which stands as an example of Suffolk heritage. Run mainly through volunteers, you can learn the fascinating history of the mill with interactive models, videos and even a dressing up box. The Tide Mill is open from Easter to September 7 days a week, however guided tours for groups can be arranged throughout the year.
Also in Woodbridge you will find the Woodbridge Museum. Run by volunteers, the museum tells the story of Woodbridge from its origins in the Roman era to modern times. Today, the town may seem sleepy and relaxed, but Woodbridge has a history as a hive of activity: from ship building to fight the Spanish Armada, a settlement for Saxon kings, and garrison for soldiers in the Napoleonic wars. Open from Easter to the end of October from Thursday to Sunday.
Sitting on the mouth of the River Deben you will find Bawdsey Manor & Radar. The manor runs open days which is a brilliant opportunity for anyone interested in history and architecture. Trace the manor’s history from the early nineteenth century as a country residence to an MOD base in the 1930’s where the first radar system was created after experiments were carried out at nearby Orford Ness. The world’s first operational radar station, Bawdsey became a target during the Second World War and was fortified in 1939.
Conservation work is currently being undertaken at Bawdsey Radar with the site aiming to reopen in September 2017.
At Felixstowe you will find Landguard Fort. Originally known as Langer Fort, the first fortifications date back to the sixteenth century, however the fort which stands today was constructed in the eighteenth century. The site of the first land battle of the Royal Marines back in 1667, Landguard Fort was used in the Second World War as a balloon launch site for Operation Outward. Taken over by English Heritage in the late 1990’s, the fort is open to the public so that you can enjoy the history of this fascinating historic building. Hosting events throughout the season, you are more than likely to have the chance to immerse yourself in the history of Landguard Fort. Open from daily from March to November, Landguard Fort will next be open for its Christmas Event on Sunday 11th December, for the week of Half Term from Saturday 11th to Sunday 19th February, then daily from Saturday 1st April.