Museums

Moyses Hall Museum
A Grade I listed building, Moyses Hall was a merchant’s house, built around 1180, which makes it one of the oldest domestic buildings in England still in use, and a rare surviving example of Norman domestic architecture. The oldest parts of the Hall are the south and west walls, which are original 12th-century construction, while most of the remainder is Tudor, with some Victorian restoration.

A Grade I listed building, Moyses Hall was a merchant’s house, built around 1180, which makes it one of the oldest domestic buildings in England still in use, and a rare surviving example of Norman domestic architecture. The oldest parts of the Hall are the south and west walls, which are original 12th-century construction, while most of the remainder is Tudor, with some Victorian restoration.

A lock of Mary Tudor’s hair

The Hall

The name ‘Moyses’ refers to a long-held belief that the Hall was built by a Jewish merchant, or served as a synagogue, but a more likely tale is that it was erected as a dwelling for scholars associated with the Abbey, and as a part-time pilgrim’s hostelry.

The house was built with a first-floor hall and solar, or private family chamber. The ground floor was used for business premises and storage. It is built in two sections, each with a gabled frontage looking onto the street.

The most obvious Norman features are the ground floor windows, but these are, in fact, Victorian inserts and are not original. Two first floor windows are original, however. There is a clock turret, but this was added by famed Victorian architect George Gilbert Scott during a 19th Century remodelling.

The Moyses Hall Museum

Over its long life, Moyses Hall has seen use as a dwelling, an inn, a gaol, and a police station, before becoming the home to a museum of local life. The museum features collections of clocks and watches finds from the Abbey, clothing and textiles, prints, paintings, displays on the Suffolk Regiment, and other aspects of local heritage.

There is even a locket containing the hair of Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII, who is buried at St Mary’s church. There is a special display on the Red Barn Murder, a local crime which was a huge scandal in the 1820s.

Moyses Hall is one of several historic buildings clustered around Cornhill and Buttermarket (others including the Art Gallery, designed by Robert Adam, and the Victorian Corn Market).

Visiting

The Hall is very easy to find, standing at the west end of Buttermarket. It is well signposted for pedestrians. There is no easy on-street parking, but there are several pay and display car parks within 5-10 minutes easy walking distance.

Bust of William Corder’s
head in the
Red Barn Murder display

You enter the building into an atmospheric vaulted chamber, supported on large Norman pillars. We visited on a blistering hot summer day in June and found to our delight that the interior of the Hall was cool and comfortable; a welcome respite from the weather outside. The receptionist was extremely helpful and gave us a fascinating account of the Hall’s history and how it developed as a museum. Opposite the reception area is a display on the Abbey and other medieval finds, including a huge broadsword found at the Battle of Fornham (1173).

Another highlight is a lock of Mary Tudor’s hair. Mary was Henry VIII’s favourite sister. she married Louis XIII of France and later married Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. She was buried in the Abbey, then reinterred in St Mary’s church after the Abbey was dissolved by her brother.

Also on the ground floor is a large exhibition devoted to Crime and Punishment. The highlight here is a display on the Red Barn Murder, with objects used during the murder investigation and memorabilia produced as ‘souvenirs’ that catered to the huge interest in the case.

The most unusual item is a plaster cast of William Corder’s head. Corder was the man accused of murdering Maria Marten in 1827 as the couple prepared to elope from their village of Polstead to Ipswich. The cast of his head was made in support of the fashionable concept of phrenology, the theory that the shape of a person’s skull could predict their behaviour and character.

One of the most interesting exhibits is a large display of historic clocks, from longcase clocks made locally to a set of superb 17th-century automaton clocks made in Augsburg, Germany.

Moyses Hall is like Dr Who’s Tardis; it seems huge on the inside, much larger than you would imagine from the exterior. You think you’ve reached the end only to realise there’s much more to explore. It seems fitting that there is a full-sized replica of the Tardis on the first-floor landing.

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West Highland Museum
Set in the historic heart of Fort William, this small museum boasts displays on local industries, the Caledonian Canal, and the Jacobite rebellions.

Set in the historic heart of Fort William, this small museum boasts displays on local industries, the Caledonian Canal, and the Jacobite rebellions.

The museum covers the rich history of the West Highlands, starting with the ‘fort’ of Fort William itself. The Fort display is set in a fascinating room built from wooden panels rescued from the governor’s room at the fort. Among the objects on display are rather unpleasant thumb-cuffs, used to incapacitate a prisoner.

The Jacobite Collection
Not surprisingly, one of the largest exhibits at the museum covers the Jacobite cause. The museum has a very large collection of items related to Bonnie Prince Charlie and his failed rebellion in 1745. See clothing, glass, furniture, Jacobite miniatures, and a fascinating ‘secret portrait’ of Prince Charlie that could only be seen when reflected in a viewing cylinder or a goblet of wine.

Other Jacobite relics include Bonnie Prince Charlie’s waistcoat, sword, jacket, bonnet, even shoe buckles. One sad exhibit is the prince’s death mask. There is also a handmade fan, produced in September 1745 for a ball at Holyrood to celebrate the Jacobite capture of Edinburgh. These fans were painted on paper, mounted on Chinese ivory sticks, and handed out to all ladies in attendance at the ball.

There is far more to see at the museum than Jacobite paraphernalia. There is a huge array of artefacts from the rich cultural heritage of the West Highland region. See charms used by local residents, and brooches thought to keep evil spirits at bay. One fascinating exhibit is The Appin Gun, thought to be the rifle used to kill Colin Campbell of Glenure in a celebrated murder case in 1752.

There are large collections on the military presence in the Highlands after the Jacobite rebellions, archaeological finds from the area, and a very large collection of Victoriana. See a ‘beetle-wing’ dress made in India for the daughter of a crofter from Skye. One popular item is a brooch worn by John Brown, Queen Victoria’s personal servant. The brooch is part of a set given by the queen to Brown on the occasion of her fourth daughter’s wedding.

The museum houses a very large archive of books, many on Highland folklore and literature, plus games, pastimes, and sporting equipment.

Clan Cameron Museum
This small museum recounts in vivid detail the history of the clan, its involvement with the Jacobite rebellion, and the story of the Cameron Highlanders.

This small museum recounts in vivid detail the history of the clan, its involvement with the Jacobite rebellion, and the story of the Cameron Highlanders.

The museum is housed in a restored 17th-century bothy. The bothy was badly damaged by government troops after the failure of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s 1745 rebellion. The bothy stands near Achnacarry Castle, the ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan Cameron. The castle is a Scottish baronial mansion built in 1802 for the 22nd Chief and is not open to the public.

The museum traces the long history of Clan Cameron from its origins in the 14th century, down to the present day, with historic costumes, ancient weapons and objects from everyday life, plus old photographs and paintings. There are also displays covering important events in the history of the clan, spanning 27 generations. See the boots worn by the 17th Chief at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689.

Learn about the foundation of the Cameron Highlanders Regiment, and how Achnacarry served as a training centre for Commandos during World War Two. The 79th Cameron Highlanders were raised in 1793 by Major Alan Cameron of Erracht., and most of the volunteers came from Lochaber and northern Argyll. See a Cameron of Erracht regimental kilt worn at Dunkirk; one of the last times a kilt was worn in battle by a British soldier. Outside the museum is an artillery piece captured by the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders at the Battle of Loos.

One of the largest exhibitions covers the 2 major Jacobite Risings in 1715 and 1745, in which the clan played a major role. One of the prize exhibits is a waistcoat worn by Bonnie Prince Charlie, and a Jacobite ring with a secret compartment that holds a portrait of the Prince. Another Jacobite relic is a Lochiel Bible, which has all references to King George blacked out.

There are a reading room and extensive clan archives, which will prove invaluable for tracing genealogy. And of course, you can purchase Clan Cameron tartans and gifts with the clan crest in a small gift shop on the site. Outside the museum is a ‘living cairn’ built with stones from clan members around the world.

The museum is usually closed from October to April but can be opened by special arrangement. You do NOT have to be connected with Clan Cameron to visit the museum and enjoy learning about its fascinating history!

Greene King Brewery Museum
There has been a brewery on this site just off the town centre of Bury since at least the year 1700, and local brews including Old Speckled Hen, Abbot Ale, and Greene King IPA are still being produced here. The brewery museum stands immediately beside the busy modern brewery, across the street from the historic Theatre Royal.

There has been a brewery on this site just off the town centre of Bury since at least the year 1700, and local brews including Old Speckled Hen, Abbot Ale, and Greene King IPA are still being produced here. The brewery museum stands immediately beside the busy modern brewery, across the street from the historic Theatre Royal.

The brewery museum tells the story of the King and Greene families, who allied their forces in 1887 to create Greene King and Sons Ltd, and exhibitions trace the history of brewing in the Bury St Edmunds area. The Brew House itself was built in 1938 in Art Deco style and features Italian marble flooring.

Visitors can see how ale is made using traditional brewing techniques. You can ascend to the brewer roof for excellent views over the Bury St Edmunds skyline.

There are regular tours, and though pre-booking is not mandatory, it is a good idea, as tours spots get filled quickly. Please see the official website for tour times and current prices. Note that there is an age limit for visitors; at present visitors must be 12 or over.

The brewery is only a short walk from the major historic attractions in the centre of Bury St Edmunds.

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Suffolk Regiment Museum
When the 250th anniversary of the Suffolk Regiment came along in 1935 the event was marked by the founding of a small museum, located in the officer’s mess. The museum served as a part of orientation for new recruits during the Second World War. By 1968 the museum outgrew its original quarters and was moved to its current location in The Keep.

When the 250th anniversary of the Suffolk Regiment came along in 1935 the event was marked by the founding of a small museum, located in the officer’s mess. The museum served as a part of orientation for new recruits during the Second World War. By 1968 the museum outgrew its original quarters and was moved to its current location in The Keep.

The displays cover the entire history of the Regiment, with artefacts as diverse as a powder flask made from rhinoceros horn, used by the Tippoo of Mysore, to the first German flag captured in WWI (seized from the Governor’s headquarters in Togoland in 1914).

There is a large collection of military drums and captured weapons, and, as you might expect, a sizeable collection of insignia and badges.

The museum has limited opening hours so it is best to check the official website for current opening times.

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Clare Ancient House Museum
A lovely museum detailing the history of the historic Suffolk village of Clare and its inhabitants, through displays on local education, leather goods, clothing, transport, and brewing. There is a small entry fee.

A lovely museum detailing the history of the historic Suffolk village of Clare and its inhabitants, through displays on local education, leather goods, clothing, transport, and brewing. There is a small entry fee.

The museum is housed in a Grade I listed building that dates back to the 15th century. The house was thought to have been used as a dwelling, a bakery, and a workhouse at various times over the centuries. It is half-timbered, and features lovely pargeting, or moulded plasterwork, making a suitably attractive venue for this charming museum.

The village of Clare is well worth visiting; apart from the museum, Clare boasts an Iron Age fort, a Saxon earthwork, a Norman castle. There is also Clare Priory, the first Augustinian foundation in England, and a fantastic 14th-century parish church.

Armadale Castle Gardens and Museum of the Isles
An award-winning museum is set within the grounds of historic Armadale Castle, home of Clan Donald. The museum tells the story of Clan Donald and its role in the history of the Isle of Skye, with six galleries spanning 1500 years of clan history.

An award-winning museum is set within the grounds of historic Armadale Castle, home of Clan Donald. The museum tells the story of Clan Donald and its role in the history of the Isle of Skye, with six galleries spanning 1500 years of clan history.

The MacDonalds, or Clan Donald, were Lords of the Isles, and their kingdom covered a vast area of western Scotland, taking in the Western Isles and the Isle of Skye, and territory on the Scottish mainland. Clan Donald played a pivotal role in the history of the Highlands, from clan warfare to the Jacobite Rising, and the eventual breakdown of the traditional clan system. The museum has a large archive section, which will be of aid to people researching their family history.

Clan Donald came to Skye in the 15th century and held castles at Duntulm, Knock, Dunscaith, and Armadale. From around 1650 the clan chiefs began to stay at Armadale, and the mansion house later became a dower house for the widows of clan chiefs.

Perhaps the most famous visitor to the old mansion house at Armadale was Flora MacDonald, known for her role in helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape capture. She was married at Armadale Castle in 1750. Later visitors included Samuel Johnson and his biographer, James Boswell, who visited in 1773 as part of their famous journey through the Western Isles.

A new mansion house was built in 1790 and extended in 1815 to form the present Armadale Castle. The architect was James Graham, who created a wonderful Gothic fantasy castle, a statement of the clan’s wealth and prestige. Unfortunately, the castle was gutted by fire in 1855. Most of the mansion was destroyed.

The central section was rebuilt, leaving the remainder a picturesque ruin. The MacDonald family moved to a smaller house on the estate in 1925, and today the remains of Armadale Castle are only a romantic facade, set within a beautiful garden.

The gardens are magnificent. They extend to roughly 40 acres and include 200-year-old trees looking down on a lush carpet of bluebells, orchids, and wildflowers. The gardens are a sheltered haven for plants from around the world, including birch from the Himalayas, New Zealand giant daisies, and the colourful Chilean Fire Bush (Embothrium).

The remarkably lush gardens are the result of a mild climate, aided by the warm Gulf Stream. There are terraced walks, woodland trails, and quiet streams running through one of the most peaceful gardens you can imagine.

Ruins of the chapel

The bridge leading to the castle ruins

Wooden bridge on a woodland trail

Garden: Forty acres of trees, shrubs and flowers grace this sheltered location. Plantings date back 200 years. Enjoy water gardens, a variety of walking trails and the chance to see local wildlife.

Rannoch Moor Visitor Centre
Housed in the historic Rannoch Station railway buildings, the centre encourages visitors to learn more about one of Scotland’s greatest landscapes whilst appreciating the engineering brilliance of the Victorians who built the West Highland Line.

Housed in the historic Rannoch Station railway buildings, the centre encourages visitors to learn more about one of Scotland’s greatest landscapes whilst appreciating the engineering brilliance of the Victorians who built the West Highland Line.

West Highland Line
The railway line was begun in 1889 to link Glasgow with Fort William. It was later extended to Mallaig. Building the railway across Rannoch Moor was an exercise in engineering skill – and patience! The engineers had to deal with the uncertain moorland soil and the soft peat. Their solution was to bring in thousands of tons of earth and ash, and lay a bed of tree roots and underbrush.

The unusual brushwood bed encountered problems right from the start, and the line was threatened with bankruptcy even before it was completed when the brushwood raft kept sinking into the soft moorland ground. It was only rescued when James Renton, one of the company directors, put his own money into the project. Renton’s contribution is remembered by a sculpture at the north end of the station platform. The line across the Moor was opened in 1894.

As part of the new rail line, a station was built with a crossing loop, with a platform between 2 sets of tracks. There were originally sidings on both sides of the station, but the east siding was later removed. Also on the east side is a turntable for engines.

The remarkable story of the West Highland Line is told in the small visitor centre attached to the station house, beside the tea room. The visitor centre also acts as a point of introduction to the Moor, with information on walking routes, as well as detail on the amazing geography of this stunning landscape.

The station can be reached by road, at the very end of the B846 from Kinloch Rannoch, or, of course, by train. The station is on the eastern side of the Moor, and there is no direct access to popular areas on the west like Glen Etive and Glen Coe, other than on foot.

Rannoch Moor is one of the great wild areas of Britain, an area of mountains, bogs, lochs, rivers, and rock. Wildlife includes red and roe deer, with an abundant bird population and a wealth of insect and plant life. The best way to get an overview of the moor is to take the West Highland Line rail journey, but if you want something a bit more challenging there are a large number of walking trails and cycling routes. Departing from Rannoch Station is a 9-mile linear walk to Corrour, on Loch Ossian.

Beside the station is the popular Moor of Rannoch Hotel. The hotel bills itself as the perfect place to escape, and with no TV, wifi, or mobile connection, and set in 130km of uninhabited moorland, they may be right!

Fort Augustus Clansman Centre
A combination Celtic craft shop and interactive Highland museum. The Clansman Centre features live demonstrations by costumed actors dressed in traditional Highland garb, who give visitors a glimpse into traditional Highland customs and a way of life that has thrived in this area for hundreds of years.

A combination Celtic craft shop and interactive Highland museum. The Clansman Centre features live demonstrations by costumed actors dressed in traditional Highland garb, who give visitors a glimpse into traditional Highland customs and a way of life that has thrived in this area for hundreds of years.

The Clansman Centre features an exhibition of traditional and historical Highland customs, with presentations that recount old legends and clan folklore. The centre is housed in a 19th-century schoolhouse, but when you step through the doors you are stepping back in time to the 17th century, to a traditional Highland turf house.

A costumed guide shows how clan members ate, dressed, slept, and survived. Learn about clan traditions and culture, warfare and dress, in an entertaining, informative, and interactive experience.

The Centre could best be described as a living museum, with demonstrations including how to wield a claymore in battle to how to put on a belted kilt. There is an armoury of traditional Scottish weapons, including a targe (shield), claymore, dirk, sgian, and broadsword. Real (and very sharp!) examples of each weapon can be purchased in the shop.

Halesworth Airfield Museum
This disused air base just outside Halesworth is home to a small museum that tells the storey of the base and the men who flew from it during World War II. The museum boasts a large collection of WWII memorabilia and tries to show visitors what it was like for the thousands of men who were stationed here.

This disused air base just outside Halesworth is home to a small museum that tells the storey of the base and the men who flew from it during World War II. The museum boasts a large collection of WWII memorabilia and tries to show visitors what it was like for the thousands of men who were stationed here.

Halesworth Airfield had a very short life; it was operational for only 4 years, from 1942 until 1946. It was used mainly as a US Air Force base and was home to both the 56th Fighter Group and the 489th Bomb Group.

Towards the tail end of WWII Halesworth served as a training base and a rescue station. The air base had three runways and two hangars, and at its height, it housed 3000 personnel.

The museum has limited opening hours – usually Sunday afternoons from Spring to Autumn, but please check the official website before making travel plans.

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