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Why Sutton Hoo trip was 'a major disappointment'

By Lynn News Reporter

The Bar Man column, by Jeff Hoyle, Friday, September 20, 2019

After… err… several years of following the football round the country, it was the barwife’s turn to choose where we should go for a couple of days.

Last year we had heard a couple of lectures organised by Lynn Museum and also the Arts and Science Society about the artist Sir Alfred Munnings and so we were inspired to go and see his house in Dedham, which is now a museum.

The Bar Man, by Jeff Hoyle, Friday September 20, 2019
The Bar Man, by Jeff Hoyle, Friday September 20, 2019

It is a lovely building and it is stuffed with his work. He is famous for his depiction of horses, possibly the best since Stubbs and there are plenty of them here.

However in his early days he did some poster art and there are three examples which rival the French ones of the same period.

There are also a number of advertising illustrations he produced for the Norwich-based Caley’s chocolate, though disappointingly none of his work for Bullards brewery. As an added bonus there is currently a display of over 40 works that he did for the Canadian Forces at the back end of the first war.

A look at the nearby Melford Hall with its Beatrix Potter connections completed our trip down to the pub where we were to spend the night.

Although there is a lot to be said for budget hotel chains, a night in a pub allows you the luxury of having a couple of pints and a meal and then just heading up the stairs.

With three beers to choose from, the Shepherd was perfect, though I am not sure about the logic of a place which prides itself on great produce and high standards selling off beer cheaply when it was clearly past its best.

Still, it set us up to visit Sutton Hoo the next day. Subject of a lecture next season at the Arts and Science society and coincidentally a TV programme featuring the wonderful Janina Ramirez just broadcast on the BBC, it is one of the great archaeological sites in Britain ... and a major disappointment.

With the café and shop closed due to an ‘incident’, major construction work taking place, a muddled display and confusing signs I left underwhelmed.

Sutton Hoo. Picture: wikipedia
Sutton Hoo. Picture: wikipedia

Fortunately next day I had a plan. We were not far from Braintree and they happened to have a ‘must-see’ game against Dulwich Hamlet but en route was the East Anglian Railway museum which the delightful Andrea had tipped us off was holding the Chappel Summer Beer Festival.

In truth, I am not a great fan of large beer festivals, but this was excellent.

Spread over a huge area encompassing the railway platform, engine sheds, old carriages and a large field, there were half a dozen bars, craft stalls, lots of places to sit and a fine selection of food. Beer, railways, badges and food and with free entry for Camra members, I think some were in heaven.

Payback was a meal in a classic pub in Wivenhoe. No booking necessary we were told, but when we arrived, the place was rammed. No worries, as there was a fish and chip shop close by and we could look forward to our disgustingly healthy breakfast hamper in the pub.

The joys of Ickworth awaited us on the way home, where the famous rotunda is encased in even more scaffolding than our house was over the summer. Not to worry. I spent my time dreaming of a bacon sandwich for lunch.

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