Throughout its long history Abbot’s Hall and its owners have had strong ties with the local community. From parties on the lawn for local schoolchildren to horticultural shows, the Hall has provided a venue for the people of Stowmarket and the surrounding area.
During the winter the Prentice family would open up the ornamental gardens to the townspeople when the lake was frozen for ice skating. Mr. Prentice even provided torches around the edge of the lake so that the skating could continue into the night, as recounted in a magazine article from 1863 entitled ‘Christmas in Suffolk’;
“There were many skaters, too, on the fishpond at Abbot’s Hall, Stowmarket. Here they enjoyed themselves until long afterdark, in the light of many torches. These ringed the pond at the expense of Mr. William Prentice who owned Abbot’s Hall”
The tradition of opening the gardens during the winter for ice skating was continued by John Hayward, and appears to have carried on after the Longe family bought the hall. These ice skates belonged to Mrs Napier Prentice, a distant relative of the Abbot’s Hall Prentices, and were used to skate on the Abbot’s Hall lake in the 1920s.