Sudbury’s national museum

Thomas Gainsborough was one of the greatest artists of his age and is renowned throughout the world for his portrait and landscape paintings. In this week’s episode, Lesley Dolphin visits the house in Sudbury where Gainsborough was born and lived as a child, and is now a national museum and gallery. Mark Bills, Director of Gainsborough House, takes Lesley on a fascinating tour of the new-look museum, which celebrates the life and art of this treasured Suffolk artist.

Lesley sees for herself the huge panoramic window on the top floor, which gives a spectacular view across rooftops to the landscape that so inspired Gainsborough. Mark explains how the building has been carefully renovated to celebrate great local heritage; with locally hand-made brick and Suffolk flint, a distinctive crinkle crankle wall in the garden and, the Gainsborough Gallery itself featuring walls lined in Suffolk silk.

With 42 Gainsboroughs currently on display, the newly restored galleries also show collections by Suffolk’s own Cedric Morris and John Constable. Visitors can see the 400 year-old mulberry tree, which was here when Gainsborough was a boy and still produces enough fruit for its jam-makers every year.

From a building at risk, Gainsborough House has now become a vibrant and exciting place, thanks to not only heritage lottery money, but also a tremendous amount of local support. You’ll find the museum right in the heart of Sudbury, open seven days a week and always with a warm welcome.

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