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“A dull disappointing experience!”

Gainsborough's House
Ranked #1 of 17 things to do in Sudbury
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Gainsborough’s House explores the life and art of Thomas Gainsborough. One of the greatest artists of his age, he is renowned throughout the world for his portrait and landscape paintings. The house, ‘a most excellent Brickt Mansion,’ was bought by John Gainsborough, the artist’s father, in May 1722. Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) was born in Sudbury and was baptized there at the Independent Meeting-House in Friars Street on 14 May 1727. He lived here until around 1740 when, as a young teenager, he was sent to London to pursue a career as an artist. He returned to Sudbury in the spring of 1749 until 1752 when he painted his celebrated Mr and Mrs Andrews. He never lost the influence of his native town and county. ‘Nature was his teacher, and the woods of Suffolk his academy,’ noted an obituary after his death in 1788.
Bristol UK
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“A dull disappointing experience!”
Reviewed 7 July 2012

Thomas Gainsborough is one of the most well-known painters of England and was born here in this Suffolk house. Naturally, as art lovers, we researched our visit online and finally made the pilgrimage last week – we were quite disappointed!

After a warm welcome, sadly there was no offer of a guided tour; we followed the Floor Plan round the house. Take a look at the Floor Plan online. First, you enter the Exhibition Gallery which changes every 3 months – our exhibition was a bit dull and not what we came to see. We then progressed through the Parlour, Entrance Hall and upstairs to Arthur Essex & Aubrey Herbert Rooms and gleaned Thomas Gainsborough’s story. The paintings in these 4 small rooms were just adequate to illustrate the story and there were a few items of furniture. The Upper Bow room had mostly Gainsborough’s nephew’s work and the Study Gallery held papers and books – a library in fact. So really, there were only the front 4 rooms which told the story of Thomas Gainsborough.

I know it is probably our fault really. We are regular National Trust and English Heritage visitors who like to get really involved with the attractions and use the guides written, recorded and human to tweak out the story and enrich our experience. There were 2 rather posh ladies who remained ensconced in their chairs, they didn’t really seem to know much or have any desire to help us enjoy our visit.

If I was running the place, I’d make a lot of changes. Children, and I bet adults too, would love to see some made up room settings to augment the atmosphere of this wonderful house and that’s what they should see first. If you must have your exhibitions, put them upstairs – out the way for those who want them. Visitors come to see Gainsborough’s birthplace and want to take away a feel of what it was like when he lived there. Please oh please get some enthusiastic volunteers to act as room guides who will delight in showing and sharing the wonderful items you have.

On a positive not, it was a lovely sunny day and the garden was delightfully English.

Visited July 2012
2 Thank davidploss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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174 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
“Historic Gem”
Reviewed 25 April 2012

This little museum was a wonderful find however it would have been even better to find more famous Thomasd Gainsborough paintings and works there.

Visited February 2012
Thank disappointedHerts
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
123 reviews
31 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
“Easter Sat”
Reviewed 8 April 2012

Visited this little treasure tucked away in side street, so take a good map. Inside staff were superb and facilities very good. Lovely small tranquil English garden, not too fussy but evocative of a family house. There was a display of modern local photography and some sculpture too which we enjoyed, it was all laid out sympathetically and tastefully. As for the great paintings, more portraits than landscapes, which is understandable. I liked his dark landscapes with people shining out like beacons of existence among the gloom. House itself is fascinating. Pretty good all round.

Visited April 2012
Thank manxboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 6 Contributor
99 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“Lovely house tucked away down a side street”
Reviewed 6 March 2012

well laid out and very informative,small shop,selling local prints and books.Plus a small coffee shop.Well worth a visit

Visited March 2012
Thank johnnyAlicante
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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