Explore the fascinating artefacts and collections of Felixstowe Museum, which brings alive the military and social history of this seaside town. Housed within the Ravelin Block of the neighbouring Landguard Fort, the building was once home to a submarine mining establishment. Built in 1878, the Museum still has tramway tracks embedded in the floor which were used to transport mines. Visitors to the museum can discover how mines were assembled, packed and stored, and why they became obsolete. A real 'hidden' treasure - adults and children alike can explore all sorts of amazing stuff in fourteen different rooms, from costumes and model planes, to fossils and toys. There are also special events, learning activities and new themed exhibitions each season to enjoy. The museum is managed by a team of friendly volunteers who are always happy to help. Their expertise is second to none and is always delivered.
Nowadays Felixstowe is a haven of peace and tranquillity, so you may be surprised to learn that the region has seen significant military activity. Find out about battles on land, sea and air from the time of Henry VIII to the 1950s. Learn about the Merchant and Royal Navy, and the history of the WWII Coastal Forces base at Felixstowe. Artefacts, models and photos bring to life the history of the Royal Naval Air Service, Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment and RAF Felixstowe. The intricately constructed models of aircraft, tanks and ships have been donated, painstakingly restored or built by museum members.
The Museum’s archaeology collections, spanning several millenia of life in this region, are on display in the Darrell Room. Can you imagine a time when mammoths were roaming across Europe? A huge mammoth tooth found near Landguard Point gives us some idea of the size of these elephant-like creatures. Several thousand years after the last mammoths became extinct, this peninsular was occupied by the Romans. Whilst ancient roof tiles and fragments of building materials tell us that there were Roman buildings in Felixstowe, the coins, pots and jewellery that their inhabitants left behind give us an insight into their daily lives. Although many of the early Roman finds in Felixstowe and Walton went to other museums, Felixstowe Museum has an important collection of 1st to 4th century artefacts. The Museum is also home to some beautiful Medieval coins, all found on their doorstep.
You can discover what life was like in Victorian and Edwardian Felixstowe in the Museum’s fantastic Social History Exhibitions. An enchanting array of artefacts offer a unique insight into a variety of areas including fashion, medicine, pastimes and foodstuffs. See a beautiful hat made entirely of feathers, children’s toys, advertisements and postcards. Be sure to pop into the General Store to marvel at household items, and prices, from a bygone era!
Originally the Melton House of Industry for the relief of the poor, St Audry’s Hospital began life as the Suffolk County Asylum in 1832. When St Audry’s closed in 1993, its museum collection and archive went to the Museum of East Anglian Life, Felixstowe Museum and the Suffolk Record Office. St Audry’s Hospital was pioneering in its treatment of mental illness. Dr John Kirkman, who was the Hospital’s Medical Superintendent between 1829 and 1876, believed that ‘No restraint can be employed which is so powerful as tenderness.’
All public galleries and spaces are fully accessible and wheelchair friendly. There is a wheelchair available on request, which can be borrowed free of charge. There is ample free parking directly outside the Museum. Well behaved dogs are welcome! They offer tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cold drinks and snacks – the Museum tea-room is the perfect place to relax and refuel! They have plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, and offer table service. Opening times, Easter to June: Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. June, July and September: Sundays, Bank Holiday Mondays and Wednesdays. August: Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays. October: Sundays and Bank Holidays
Harwich Harbour, at the mouth of the river Orwell, has always been the best safe haven for large ships between the rivers Thames and Humber. The rivers Orwell, Stour and Deben stretch several miles inland and were ideal highways for trade and raiders. Landguard Fort dominated the navigable channel on the northern bank of the river Orwell, whilst the Redoubt at Harwich guarded the harbour entrance along with a large battery at Shotley. Discover the FortThere have been a number of fortifications built on the Landguard Peninsula over the years. In 1543 Henry VIII had two blockhouses built which rapidly deteriorated, so in 1552 the guns were returned to the Tower of London. In 1628, a new Fort was built of earth revetted with wood. It was square with a bastion on each corner. In 1666, under Charles II, repairs were completed and a brick wall constructed around the Fort. In 1667, during the second Dutch War, on the orders of Admiral de Ruyter, 1,500 Dutch marines (musketeers, pikemen, sailors (as grenadiers) and small cannon) landed at Cottage Point (now Cobbold's Point) and under the command of Colonel Thomas Dolman (an English officer who had served with Cromwell and, like many professional soldiers, had changed sides) attacked the Fort from the landward side. The Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot, commanded by Captain Nathaniel Darell, repulsed the Dutch assault. In 1717, a new brick Fort was constructed, but gave way to a new structure in 1744, when a new red brick Fort was built in the form of a pentagon, with a bastion at each corner. These walls remain today.
In 1871, the Fort was remodelled using yellow London bricks. All the internal accommodation buildings and the river facing battery, dating from 1780, were demolished. A seven gun casemate battery was constructed facing the river to house four 12.5 inch and three 10 inch Rifled Muzzle Loaded (RML) guns. Accommodation was in a semicircular block connected to the casemates to form an internal defensive position. The south east curtain wall facing the sea had one 12.5 inch and two 10 inch RML guns in casemates and the two land facing bastions with Barbette mounted 9 inch RML guns. In 1878, a submarine mining establishment was constructed by excavating a test room within the thick walls of the Fort, building an observation room and adding a main building on the east side of the Fort - known as the Ravelin Block. Stores and barracks were later demolished and are now underneath Landguard Terminal (part of the Port of Felixstowe). In 1901, because the existing armament of the Fort became obsolete, new batteries were built in front of the Fort facing the sea and river. These were named Left, Right and Darell's Batteries. After the main guns were removed, and for most of the 20th C. the Fort was used as barrack accommodation. In 1951 two of the old gun casemates were converted into a control room for ‘cold war’ use. In 1956 the Coastal Artillery was disbanded and Landguard Fort no longer had a national military purpose. After 10 years of military neglect, the Fort was sealed up and left to quietly disintegrate until the 1980’s when local interest was aroused.
Disabled visitors can be set down near to the Fort entrance. There are two designated parking spaces, both located 10 metres from the entrance. The Fort provides free admission for carers. Inside the Fort : Pathways and surfaces within the Fort include gravel, grass, concrete and asphalt. Access to the ground floor levels of the Fort is possible for those in wheelchairs. Assistance may be required with entry to a few rooms where ramps have not yet been fitted to the threshold. 24 of the 32 audio tour points are on the ground floor, including their video room. Access to the first floor is by about 20 relatively shallow steps in five separate locations. One set of steps has a partial handrail only. If this is a problem please ask to be directed to a more suitable access point. Please note, there is no lift. Other facilities : Accessible toilets, Assistance dogs welcome, Portable loop and amplifiers are available for the hard of hearing. Outer Batteries Tours. These tours provide an informative and absorbing insight into the history and architecture of the building and its surroundings, plus you get to visit areas which are not generally open to the normal visitor. Sundays at 14:00 (weather permitting). Sorry no children under 12 years of age. Please note: suitable footwear should be worn - flat soled (no sandals/flip flops or high heels please). The tours are free, but donations welcome.
Location : Felixstowe Museum, Viewpoint Road, Felixstowe, Suffolk IP11 3TW
Transport: Felixstowe (National Rail) then bus (77, 77A). Bus Routes : 77 stops outside.
Opening Times Museum: 12:00 to 17:00. see abovefor open days.
Opening Times Fort: April through October, daily, 10:00 to 17:00.
Tickets Museum: Adults £2.00; Children (3 - 15) £0.50
Tickets Fort: Adults £5.00; Concessions £4.00; Children (5 - 15) £2.00 - Includes free audio tour
Tel: 01394 674355
Tel Fort: 0370 333 1181