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Aldeburgh People

Today, Aldeburgh has a reputation as a centre for the arts with many artists, writers and musicians associated with it. This has not always been the case. Life for people living in Aldeburgh 500 years ago was reliant on the sea, helped by a natural harbour that had formed at Slaughden. The fishing and ship-building industries were thriving by the mid-16th Century and the population had rapidly expanded.

But Aldeburgh soon saw a change in its fortunes when silt built up making the harbour too shallow to use. Disease, bad storms and high taxes made life difficult for people here during the 17th Century. Records show that in 1603, the population was over 1,300 but by 1670 had dwindled to 670 people.

It was only in the late 18th and early 19th century that Aldeburgh began to expand again as it gradually developed a new identity as a seaside resort. Accelerated by the arrival of the railway in 1864, tourism had fully opened up the town to the outside world, bringing in new people and new ideas. The 1881 census tells us more about the people living in the town at that time and reflects the change in occupations. A population of around 2100 included people including 80 mariners, 65 fishermen but also 60 domestic servants, 35 maids, 20 laundresses, a butler, photographer and the German manager of a ‘coffee room’.

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Do I have to wear a face covering?

Yes please  unless you have a medical condition which prevents this.  For children under 11 years we would prefer them to wear a face covering, but it is not mandatory. Face covering is not required for children under 2 years of age.

Can I go into the museum if I just turn up?

People with timed tickets for entry will have priority but it is possible that our staff member on duty at the bottom of the Moot Hall steps will let you in either straight away or with a delay. This will depend on how many people have booked.  We would much prefer you to book a timed ticket – it is free of charge with admission only payable on entry.

How do I get a ticket for entry?

Please read our opening arrangements HERE. 

When will you be open?

We plan to be open every day until the end of October. Thereafter we will be open at weekends, with extended times over the Christmas holidays.

How accessible is the museum?

The museum has worked hard to ensure that everyone is welcome and is able to access the displays and enjoy themselves when they visit us.

Access for visitors with physical disabilities
The Moot Hall is a grade one listed building and the exhibits are on two floors, with the main entrance on the first floor and the exit on the ground floor. For those with limited mobility who cannot climb the stairs, there is access through the ground floor, where you can look around the museum room and its exhibits. Tablet computers will provide support for those unable to climb the stairs (coming soon). Our front of staff are ready to assist when you arrive.

We are sorry but the museum is not wheelchair accessible but it is possible that access could be possible for small wheelchairs through the ground floor. Please let us know your requirements.

Access for visitors with visual impairments include:
Tablet support (coming soon) and a handling collection and items to touch. Access dogs are welcome.

Access for deaf or hard of hearing visitors includes:
Subtitles for spoken word film material. Assistance dogs are welcome.

Access for visitors who have a learning disability, dementia or are on the autistic spectrum includes:
An experienced member of staff.  In due course we expect to have SEN backpacks and a sensory map.

If you have any additional needs please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you.

What is there for children?

Whether you have tiny tots or teenagers, there’s plenty to do with the family. There is dressing up as a mini mayor, games and challenges, trails and more.

Whether that’s seeing our exhibitions or taking part in one our workshops, we want you to feel at home here.

Note: because of the Covid-19 pandemic some of these activities for children are suspended.


What is included in my ticket?

Your admission ticket includes entry to all our temporary exhibitions and permanent collection displays. You may also borrow a tablet computer to learn more about our exhibits (coming soon). Your ticket enables you to visit multiple times over a one year period though does not cover special events.