Built in 1520, this house was the childhood home of the painter Thomas Gainsborough, who was born here in 1727. It’s now a museum and art gallery.
Thomas Gainsborough grew up here in Sudbery before moving to London to study painting aged 13. The house was built in 1520 and Gainsborough’s parents, John and Mary, moved here in 1722, about five years before he was born. You can still see remnants of the 17th century house in the Parlour, which has a small wall painting from the era. Gainsborough’s parents added a Georgian brick façade to the house and it remained in the family until 1792, when it was sold at auction. It was a private residence until the 1920s, and after this it was reincarnated various times as a guesthouse, tea room and antiques shop, before being bought by the Gainsborough’s House Society, who opened the house as a Museum in 1961.
The house’s permanent collection of art includes works from all ages of Gainsborough’s life, from the earliest landscapes of Suffolk painted during the 1750s to later paintings of Bath and London in the 1760s, 1770s and 1780s. But the collection isn’t only restricted to fine art: it also counts letters and some of Gainsborough’s art utensils (like a paint scraper) among its objects. Other paintings and drawings, by Gainsborough and other contemporary artists, are also on display.
The walled garden at Gainsborough’s House was well-loved when it was a tea room in the 1920s, and it is planted with plants that were available during Gainsborough’s lifetime. A walk there will help you to imagine what inspired the painter and might even encourage you to join one of the drawing groups that meet there.