Suffolk

Stowmarket Museum of East Anglian Life in burglary appeal

Victorian Parlour, Museum of East Anglian Life Image copyright MEAL
Image caption The museum says its Victorian parlour was stripped of everything except the furniture, including the tin train set and other toys

A museum is appealing to the public for any Victorian-era children's toys to help replace exhibits stolen in a burglary.

The Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket, Suffolk, lost at least 135 items during a break-in last week.

Toys taken from the Victorian Parlour include a tin train set, lead soldiers and jigsaws.

Lisa Harris, collections manager, said: "It's a really popular area for our school workshops."

Image copyright MEAL
Image caption Metal baths used by visitors on Victorian "wash days" were taken during the burglary of the four buildings

Four buildings at the museum were broken into overnight between Sunday, 28 and Monday, 29 January.

Other exhibits stolen included white porcelain from a chemist in Stowmarket, hats and ties from a tailors in Lavenham and historic advertising signs.

Items used during the museum's hands-on Victorian "wash days" were also taken, meaning it wants replacement tin baths.

Lead roofing was also stolen from the back wall of the listed Abbot's Hall.

Image copyright MEAL
Image caption Lead roofing was taken from the rear of the grade II listed Abbot's Hall at the museum site

Ms Harris said: "Today's children are fascinated by the toys and the idea of how previous generations made up their own stories in play.

"We are appealing for people to provide us with any Victorian or Edwardian-era toys to replace them.

"If you've got something hidden away in a drawer or attic, then thousands of people can benefit from them being in a museum."

Jenny Cousins, museum director, said: "Beyond the sad impossibility of replacing unique items, there is a very real cost in time, energy and money.

"While the museum has insurance cover, it is likely that insurance costs will rise next year as a result.

"The museum operates on a very tight budget and this burglary may have an impact on our charitable and educational work."

Image copyright MEAL
Image caption Thieves stole the metal wash baths, but they left the large mangle and the wooden washing "dollies" used to stir the clothes in the baths

The appeal comes ahead of the museum's volunteer week, which begins on Saturday, 10 February.

Suffolk Police is appealing for information or witnesses to the burglary.

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