Photo gallery: Cockley Cley auction brings end to heritage site’s saga

Items up for sale at the auction at the Iceni Centre at Cockley Cley, after the museum was closed do

Items up for sale at the auction at the Iceni Centre at Cockley Cley, after the museum was closed down. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

It was supposed to be one of the region's top tourist attractions, and a celebration of our prehistoric past.

Items up for sale at the auction at the Iceni Centre at Cockley Cley, after the museum was closed do

Items up for sale at the auction at the Iceni Centre at Cockley Cley, after the museum was closed down. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

But despite greatest of efforts and highest of hopes, the crowds did not quite follow in the numbers necessary, and with takings falling just 70p on one day, the Iceni Village, near Swaffham, closed down.

And an auction of its rare artefacts and exhibits has now brought the saga's final chapter to a close.

An attempt to revive the Iceni Village, just south of Swaffham, failed within three months after it was reopened under a new guise and a new name, the Iceni Centre.

Owners had hoped the refurbishment programme, which did away with the mock Iceni village and put a skeleton of a 4,000-year-old Bronze Age giant at the heart of the display, would help the attraction double its visitor numbers from 10,000 to 20,000. But they soon conceded defeat, admitting they took just 70 pence one day.


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In a bid to claw back some of the money lost, owner Sir Samuel Roberts commissioned auctioneer Barry Hawkins from Downham Market to sell off all of the objects on the site, except for a few family heirlooms.

Saturday's auction saw old fashioned carriages, worth up to £4,000, go under the hammer, together with a 19th-century steam engine and farm machinery. More than 200 people attended.

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Sir Samuel, who lives at nearby Cockley Cley Hall, said: 'Now the Iceni Centre has closed, it was good to get something positive out of it and to pay for some of the losses of closing it.

'We will now use the site as a centre for people who want to use it for parties and occasions, it's a facility for the village which can be used as a community hall, for art displays and pottery workshops.'

Are you trying to boost tourism in Breckland? Email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk.

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