We made a trip to the Suffolk country town of Stowmarket on Saturday. Close to the market place virtually hidden from view can be found the 'big house' of Stow (as the the locals invariably call the town.) Abbot's Hall is a very graceful Queen Anne style house, sitting in attractive parkland. A museum has been newly opened inside the hall. The displays reflect the lives of former inhabitants and the wider, largely rural East Anglian community. The region is often called 'the bread basket of England.' A small but powerful display looked at the lives of travelling Gypsies. Attached to house is a wonderfully restored glass house~conservatory. It was built by the illustrious engineers and manufacturers Boulton and Paul of Norwich.
At the front of the house is a duck pond. Although this is slight compared to the ornamental lake, found on a higher plateau behind the house. There is even an island complete with a square red brick summerhouse. You can almost imagine graceful ladies during the age of enlightenment taking tea on the island, while the gentlemen punt on the lake (or maybe the reverse.) To the side of the house are a range of spaced out buildings housing a wealth of vehicles, farming implements and animals. A collection of brightly decorated gypsy vardo and showmans' caravans stand out ~ everything has a place in the countryside! Some buildings have been relocated to the site. These formed one of the first open air museums in the country. We enjoyed afternoon tea with homemade scones in The Osier, a cafe attached to farm buildings, next door. If you have time to visit the museum, it is a must see.