Object of the Year

The winner, which polled the most votes for  the Object of the Year Award 2016, was the East Anglia Transport Museum’s rare and unusual “half-deck coach”.  Scroll down to read more about it and to see all of this year’s entries. 


Gainsborough's NotebookGainsborough’s House – Gainsborough’s notebook

This notebook once belonged to the Suffolk born artist Thomas Gainsborough. It comes with its own pencil and the catch is made out of a Dutch coin, dated 1759. With its shagreen (sharkskin) case and six ivory leaves,  who knows what ideas or masterpieces might have begun life on one of these pages?



Suffolk Regiment Museum – Ceramic Poppy Ceramic poppy

One of the poppies that formed part of the art installation created at the Tower of London in 2014, this brings the story of the Great War dead down one individual.   It was purchased in memory of Private Stanley Payne Reeve of the 7th Battalion The Suffolk Regiment. Born in Ipswich in 1897, he enlisted under age in early August 1914 and was killed in action  in the trenches at Ploegsteert, south of Ypres on 19 September 1915.   He had just turned eighteen.


Lanman Museum – Toilet for two Lanman double lavatory

This wooden outdoor privy was rescued from an old lady’s house in Cretingham. It shows a shared, side by side, adult and child  seating arrangement  (the lower one is for the child). Today it is on display at the Lanman Museum (inside Framlingham Castle), where it serves as a reminder of bygone rural village life and provides a fascinating talking point.


Ipswich Transport Museum – Co-op bakery van CoOp bread van in museum 2

This horse-drawn vehicle, built in 1932, did its rounds in the Newmarket area and was finally “put-out-to-grass” along with its horse  Dandy in 1950. For the past two and a half years a team of four museum volunteers have been restoring it to its former glory.



Lowestoft Maritime Museum – Scutcher & Roaring Shovel scutcher and roaring shovel

The museum has linked these two intriguingly named objects because both would have been used on board a herring drifter.The Roaring Shovel was used to move the catch into the fish hold. It was made of wood to minimise damage to the fish and the deck. The metal Scutcher was then used to scoop the herring into baskets.



The Red House – Imogen Holst’s cookery book Recipe book page 14

Daughter of  “The Planets”composer, Imogen Holst  (1907-1984)  lived in Aldeburgh for a large part of her life. Known for her work as the music assistant of Benjamin Britten and her contribution to the Aldeburgh Festival, she had a wide-ranging career as a composer, conductor, educator, writer and ‘Music Traveller’ for the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (now the Arts Council, England). This book of simple recipes was created for her by friend and pupil, Lorna Letcher.


Woolpit Museum – Wooden  Splint Woolpit arm splint

Hinged at the elbow, this was used in the First World War and was originally discovered along with other wooden splints in the attic of a local GP’s surgery. In all likelihood they were used at the small military convalescent hospital set up in the village doctor’s house at the time. On show as part of a museum display commemorating the 100th anniversary of the War, it attracts a lot of interest.


Dunwich Museum – model of the town Dunwich model

This shows Dunwich in its Medieval heyday, with a population of 4,500. A large and prosperous port it had learned to live with a moderate amount of coastal erosion by gradually expanding inland. But at the end of the 13th Century a massive storm finally did for Dunwich by also washing material into the harbour entrance and blocking it. Most of the people moved away and the sea reclaimed so much of the town that the present coastline is now some 750 metres inland.


East Anglia Transport Museum: Half Deck Coach

A  recent addition to the East Anglia Transport Museum’s collectiThe unusual half deck coachon, this Leyland Royal Tiger Half Deck Coach, was built in Norwich. The idea of the design was to be able to carry more passengers than a regular single-deck vehicle without having to add the restrictive height of a double-decker. 20 prototypes were built between 1949 and 1953 and this  is thought to be the only survivor.


Halesworth Museum – Workhouse Bell

The Bulcamp Workhouse Bell would have been a constant reminder to the inmates of their Bulcamp bell
strictly controlled lives, from the hour it got them up to the time it sent them to bed. In rural areas where life was regulated by little more than the rising and the setting of the sun, it must also have sounded a dire warning to surrounding country people of the consequences of falling into poverty.


Laxfield Museum – Winston Churchill’s head 


This plaster mould of head of Sir Winston Churchill was left in a barn in the nearby village of Cratfield. It is all that remains of the  full body mould of the bronze statue of the great statesman, which was sculpted by renowned artist Ivor Roberts-Jones, and now stands in Parliament Square.




Mid Suffolk Light Railway – First Class Smoking Coach Middy smoking coach

Dating from 1863 this carefully restored railway carriage  is the latest addition to the MSLR’s rolling stock, and raises to three the number of vehicles that the public can ride in. One of just six such carriages built at the Great Eastern Railway’s Stratford Works, it ran all over East Anglia until 1886 and finally withdrawn from service in 1895. Discovered in a garden in Elmswell in the 1990s, it was purchased by a group of MSLR members. The recent restoration work has been carried out in the Middy’s own workshops by its team of highly skilled, often retired, volunteer craftsmen.


Clare Ancient House: Rev Thomas Parkinson’s Notebook.

Rev Parkinson served as Clare’s Vicar for only a short period, but returned in 1878 to address visiting members of the Suffolk and Essex Extract of poem in notebookArchaeological Societies. His notebook contains the text of that lecture and includes a poem ‘Clare! famed of old, where is the glory now’, written by a former owner of Clare Castle, Stephen Jenner. It is marked up in pencil for printing, but as yet no published copy of  has come to light.



Ipswich Museum – Woolly mammoth Mammoth2

No other object in Ipswich museum attracts quite the same attention (or as many selfies) as the life-size reproduction of a Woolly Mammoth, which dominates the entrance to its Natural History Gallery.Created as part of make-over in the 1980s, and based on local discoveries, the “Maidenhall Mammoth” acquired a new celebrity and a new name following a popular media poll held a couple of years ago. Now known as “Wool-I-Am”, his looming presence gives visitors an authentic sense of size and scale as he loftily surveys his surroundings, keeping a very beady eye on all who pass him by.


Museum of East Anglian Life – Church Clock 

Stowmarket town clock

This clock is still marks the passage of time in the museum’s Boby building, where it is wound every day. Dating from 1620, the original clock didn’t have a face. Instead the mechanism would have been connected to a carillon of bells, which chimed the time (and a selection of hymns). A couple of centuries later in 1837 a clock face was added, both inside and to the outside of the tower. By which time the church of St Peter and St Paul in Stowmarket had been joined by that of St Mary.


West Stow Anglo Saxon Village – Neolithic Macehead

Beautifully crafted from a Garboldisham maceheadsingle piece of red deer antler, the Garboldisham macehead was found in 1964 under a river bed (in Norfolk). Much more recently, modern technologies have helped to establish that it is between 5,100 and 5,500 years old, sparking further research into its significance and what it can tell us about the British Neolithic period.


Beccles Museum: Moustache cup.

 In Victorian times, when fashionable men went to great lengths Beccles moustache cupto keep their moustaches elegantly curled, this cup with its semi-circular ledge would have prevented wax and dye from melting into their tea. Thought to have been invented in the 1860s it  was soon popular throughout the British Empire. Ultimately the passion for moustaches waned and production largely ceased in the 1920.



Southwold Museum: Church angel.Southwold Angel front view

Re-discovered during recent restoration work at St Edmund’s Church, the “Southwold Angel”  would have been originally positioned against a wall, supporting  one of the posts that helped spread the load of the roof. Carved from a single piece of English oak in the 15th Century it is  remarkable survivor and now  on public view for the first time in centuries