We’re privileged to care for such a fascinating collection – from the remarkable to the everyday – and we want to make this available to as many people as possible.
Information about the Collection
Our collection comprises over 2,000 objects reflecting the archaeology and social history of Long Melford and the surrounding area of West Suffolk. To date, much of the collection has been shaped by those volunteers who have curated and cared for it over the years. It reflects their passions and interests as well as those who have donated objects. The Heritage Centre owes a huge debt to the dedicated work of our Chair of Trustees, John Nunn. John co-founded the Centre with the late and much missed Rob Simpson in 2012. An enthusiastic collector, John has spent over 40 years amassing ‘bygones’ from barns, cottages and attics of local people. He gifted these items as the core collection.
The Centre holds a unique archive of historic images of the village and local area from the late 19th century to the present day. This library includes the following collections: John Lanigan Collection, Les Gardiner Collection; Ernie Ambrose Collection including Glass Plates; Ian Sandham Collection and the Tom Howlett Collection.
Some of these photographs are supplemented by original documents which help us understand how and why the photographs were taken.
The Archive still actively collects material. For more information on offering images to the Centre please contact us.
Thomas Howlett Collection
Thomas Howlett (1927 – 1975) contributed substantially to the Centre’s founding collection of images. Having moved into the Police Station on Little Green, Long Melford in the early 1960’s, Tom already had a keen interest in Archaeology and soon became involved in researching the history of the village. A founder member of the Sudbury Historical Society, he went on with other interested parties to form the Long Melford Historical Society. As a highly respected member of the community, people frequently entrusted Tom with artefacts they had found in the village and historic photographs passed down through their families. A keen and talented photographer, Tom documented village life throughout the sixties and early seventies, always adding meticulous notes.
Tom’s ambition was to establish a museum in Long Melford, but unfortunately his early death at the age of 48 in 1975, prevented this dream. The artefacts and photos that he had accrued over his time in Long Melford remained in the loft of his house for the next 40 years until his wife passed away in 2015. It was then that Tom’s daughter, Susan, approached John Nunn regarding the items she had found in her family home, and very generously donated them all to the Heritage Centre to remain in Long Melford for perpetuity.
This extraordinary collection is being catalogued at the moment and forms a cornerstone of the Centre’s image archive. In acknowledgement of Tom’s passion for local history and his unparalleled efforts to record village life in Melford, the bequest is known as the Tom Howlett Collection.
Romano – British Collection
The collection includes excavation material from the last 100 years, further research excavations undertaken by the Centre’s Archaeological Team in recent years, metal detecting finds acquired by the Centre, and donations.
The collection ranges from small pieces of Samian pottery and hair pins, to silver coins and a rare 6” tall Venus figurine, similar to others found along Hadrian’s Wall where there was a series of Roman military forts. Although there’s no definitive proof that’s the case in Long Melford, it would have been an appropriate site for a Roman fort.
Predominantly a collection of 17th & 18th Century Apotropaic* deposits from Codling’s Forge, Long Melford. * Apotropaic magic or protective magic is a type of magic intended to turn away harm or evil influences, as in deflecting misfortune or averting the evil eye. The fear of the supernatural, witchcraft and evil spells was at its height in England during the 17th century. The threat posed by ‘evil spirits’ was taken seriously by academics and churchmen as well as the general populace.
Themes and Priorities for Future Collecting
To collect, preserve, display and interpret objects of historical or cultural interest relating to Long Melford and the surrounding area together with supporting information such as documents, maps, photographs etc.
To act as a centre for the study of such objects and material by providing exhibitions, events, information and educational facilities for residents and school children as well as visitors to the area.
To increase and deepen public understanding of the historical development of the village of Long Melford and the surrounding area, and to promote the appreciation of its history, culture and economic heritage within available resources.
To acquire local human history material from all periods of time, together with associated documentary or other evidence, relating to the people of Long Melford and the surrounding area, and to their social and economic history – for display, research, reference and educational purposes.
To acquire fine or decorative art objects from all periods of time where the artist/producer has close connections with, or where the subject matter relates to Long Melford and the surrounding area – for display, research, reference and educational purposes.