Guide to Museums in Bury St Edmunds & Beyond

Discover Bury St Edmunds and Suffolk's fascinating past with a trip to these museums in Bury St Edmunds & Beyond...

Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding towns and villages are absolutely steeped with a rich and diverse history. 

Wherever you are, you will often find yourself amidst an area that has a fascinating history which may well be documented within a museum. 

Bury St Edmunds has more museums than most towns, all of which make a great family day out; many of which are free of charge to enter, and what’s more, they provide inquisitive minds a first-hand experience of the past, with experts on hand to answer their 'whys', 'whos', and 'what fors', bringing history alive and off the page of a book! 

If you're visiting as a couple or are a history enthusiast then you also are in for a treat. The town is a museum in itself; with the Abbey Gardens, Abbey Ruins, Cathedral, The Athenaeum and St Mary's Church just some of the buildings and sites which are of significant historical importance.

Plan your visit and make sure a trip to one of these museums is on your itinerary!

Moyse’s Hall Museum, Bury St Edmunds

Moyse’s Hall Museum has taken pride of place in Bury St Edmunds marketplace for nearly 900 years! The diverse history of the building has seen its use change from workhouse to town Bridewell to police station before becoming a museum in 1899.

The museum displays a wide range of exhibitions and collections, documenting the journey through time and foundation of Bury St Edmunds, from the Abbey’s troubled past (from creation to dissolution, to bygone prison tools and apparatus to various objects and items which provide gruesome and macabre insight into witchcraft and the country’s mistaken obsession with the occult and superstition. 

Moyse’s Hall Museum is open Mondays to Saturdays between 10am and 5pm (last entry 4pm)
Entrance prices are £12 for adults, £8 concessions and £6 for children aged 5-16. Family passes and heritage tickets are also available.

Rougham Control Tower Aviation Museum, Bury St Edmunds

Rougham Control Tower is a small friendly aviation museum, home to the 94th bomb group and based within an airfield, historically called Rougham Airfield. The museum is the site of a former RAF station opened in 1942 which then became known as RAF Bury St Edmunds and is dedicated to the American air personnel who served in the 322nd BG and the 94th BG of the USAAF 8th Airforce during WWII.

The tower and surrounding Nissen huts contain displays including various aircraft parts and equipment recovered from crash sites across Suffolk and Norfolk.

The museum is open every Sunday between 10am and 4pm until the end of October. Admission is free although donations are welcome.

There are always regular well-attended events planned so check the website for further details.

Suffolk Regiment Museum, Bury St Edmunds

Suffolk Regiment Museum was originally opened in 1935 and situated within the Regimental Depot site in Bury St Edmunds. The site included the Sergeants’ Mess and Officers’ Mess. In 1968, it was moved to its current location which is the former Armoury. 

Displays in the museum document the history of the regiment, covering all battalions; regular, volunteer, war-time and militia, its foundation in the late 17th century to the experience of individual soldiers and is explored through various ephemera and collectables such as weapons, equipment, uniforms, medals and photographs.

The museum is open on Wednesdays and the first Sunday in the months between 9.30am and 3.30pm and can be visited at other times by appointment. Admission is free with group visits welcome by prior arrangement.

Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket

The Museum of East Anglian Life is a collection of 17 historic buildings set across 75 acres of countryside and is the largest independent museum in Suffolk. 

The Museum has over 40,000 artefacts within its collection, owning previous “everyday” items of East Anglian life with a collection that a emphasis on food production as well as the social history relating to it, covering East Anglia’s agricultural industries.

The museum works hard to offer learning, enjoyment and participation opportunities and hosts regular family-focused events as well as programme for school visits.

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday between 10am and 4.30pm (Sundays 11am opening) and costs £8.25 for adults £7.15 concessions and £4.70 for children with family and membership rates also available.

Palace House, Newmarket 

Palace House or, to use its full title, The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art is a family-friendly venue based in the centre of Newmarket displaying fine and decorative art, social and political history, archive items and an unrivalled gallery.

The five-acre site contains not one but two museums - the National Horseracing Museum and Packard Galleries British Sporting Art in Palace House as well as offering opportunities to encounter former racehorses. 

With H.M. The Queen as their patron, Palace House promises a bumper-packed day out with plenty to see and do with an onsite restaurant, bakery and shop to rest or refuel.

The site is open daily between 10am and 5pm with tickets at £12 for adults and £7 for children (under 5’s go free). Family and annual passes are also available.

Ancient House Museum, Clare

Situated in the pretty town of Clare, Suffolk's smallest town, is Ancient House Museum. The museum tells the history of the town, of the Lords and Ladies who once lived in Clare, and of the ordinary people who lived and worked there.

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