Quay Place to close

Quay Place, opening 2016 © David Gill

In October 2016 Quay Place opened in Ipswich. It was a partnership between the Churches Conservation Trust and Suffolk Mind, and allowed this fine medieval church to have a new lease of life. The project was presented as a case study in the DCMS Heritage Statement (2017).

It has now been announced that Quay Place is due to close due to the financial squeeze caused by the pandemic (“Coronavirus: Suffolk Mind to close Ipswich’s Quay Place“, BBC News 15 June 2020). The future of the building is unclear.

East Anglia’s Heritage and Recovery

Norwich Cathedral, Binham Priory, Framlingham Castle, Castle Rising, Ickworth © David Gill

The rich range of heritage in East Anglia contributes to the visitor economy. In ‘normal’ times Ickworth is one of the National Trust’s most visited properties (with over a quarter of a million visitors in 2018). Norwich cathedral and castle are key attractions for anyone visiting the city.

But 2020 is not going to be a ‘normal’ year.

What sort of sites will attract visitors as the heritage sector starts to re-open? Will they be the out of the way locations like Binham Priory? Or the parkland surrounding Ickworth? What about the landscape surrounding the prehistoric mines at Grimes Graves?

This Thursday, 18 June 2020, Tech East and Norfolk County Council, in partnership with the New Anglia LEP and Norfolk Chambers of Commerce, will be holding Tourism + Tech, a ½ day conference aimed at helping tourism businesses recover and grow. One of the key questions to be asked is how can digital help to grow and transform visitor economy businesses?

Key speakers include Pete Waters, Executive Director of Visit East of England, James Kindred of Big Drop Brewing Co., and Jason Middleton, Programmes Manager at New Anglia LEP.

10 key heritage sites in Suffolk

10 key heritage sites in Norfolk

The severed portrait head from the Alde

Portrait of the Emperor Claudius (British Museum) © David Gill

The bronze head of the Emperor Claudius (or perhaps Nero) was found in the spring of 1907 in the River Alde at Rendham, west of Saxmundham, in Suffolk. As Jocelyn Toynbee observed: ‘The lower line of the neck is torn and ragged, and there can be little doubt but that this head was violently hacked from its body and carried off as loot from some important Roman centre’. The suggestion is that it was removed from the Roman colony at Colchester: see Janet Huskinson, CSIR GB I, 8, no. 23.

The head (‘The Saxmundham Claudius’) was purchased by the British Museum after it had been sold at Sotheby’s in 1965 (inv. 1965.12-01.1).

VE Day 75: Landguard

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Landguard Fort © David Gill

The 8th May 2020 marks 75 years since the end of fighting in Europe (VE Day). The towers on Darell’s Battery at Landguard Fort, opposite Harwich, were constructed in 1939–40 to direct guns (twin 6-pounders) defending this strategic port.

The West Row Roman Treasure from Suffolk

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Mildenhall Dish © David Gill

A suggestion has been made that the Mildenhall Treasure be renamed as the West Row Treasure after the parish in which it was found (“Mildenhall Treasure: British Museum steps in to row over Roman hoard”, BBC News 22 February 2020).

Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019

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Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019 © David Gill

The Awards Ceremony for Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019 was held at the University of Suffolk on Wednesday 30 October 2019. I was honoured to be one of the judges and we were all impressed by the variety and quality of museums across the county.

The results:

  • Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019: large category. The Red House, Aldeburgh
  • Suffolk Museum of the Year 2019: small category. Bawdsey Radar
    • Highly Commended: Felixstowe Museum
  • Innovation Award. Ipswich Museum
  • Family Friendly Award. Lowestoft Maritime Museum
  • Volunteers of the Year: Natural Science Volunteer Team at Ipswich Museum
    • Highly Commended: Elaine Nason from Laxfield Museum and Paul Durbidge from Lowestoft Museum
  • Schools Session Award. Palace House

Object of the Year was … The Tin of Chocolate Worm Cakes from the Museum of East Anglian Life.

Many congratulations to the winners and all those taking part.

News items

  • Story in the EADT (31 October 2019)

Ickworth Uncovered

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Ickworth © David Gill

Work has started on the Ickworth Uncovered project. This will involve repairing and retiling the roof of the Rotunda.

The crane lifting the covering structure into place is over 80 m tall.

The project is expected to cost around £5 million.

Viewing the burial mounds at Sutton Hoo

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Sutton Hoo © David Gill

The new viewing platform adjacent to the site of the ship-burial at Sutton Hoo is developing. At the moment it looks rather stark against the tree line but the plan is to blend it into the background.

The 2014 temporary tower gave a totally new perspective on the site. I very much hope that the new tower will help visitors to understand a little bit more about the site.

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View over the Sutton Hoo burial site (April 2015) © David Gill

Sutton Hoo: visualising the burials

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Sutton Hoo sculpture © David Gill

Visitors to the cemetery at Sutton Hoo sometimes find it hard to visualise a ship under the mound. The NLHF supported project has allowed a ship sculpture to be inserted in the courtyard next to the cafe and shop. The central part maps out the finds on the ‘burial chamber’.

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Burial details in the Sutton Hoo sculpture © David Gill

This contrasts with the reconstructed display in the original exhibition at the site.

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Reconstructed ship burial at National Trust Sutton Hoo © David Gill