Gallery: Ipswich showcases its hidden architectural gems during Heritage Open Days

Margaret Hancock (left) tells Sarah Holloway about Curson Lodge while John Norman from the Ipswich S

Margaret Hancock (left) tells Sarah Holloway about Curson Lodge while John Norman from the Ipswich Society looks on . - Credit: Archant

Historic buildings in the heart of Ipswich have come under the spotlight as preparations are drawn up for this year’s heritage open days event in September.

National co-ordinator for Heritage Open Days Sarah Holloway was given a tour of the town – showing off some of the buildings that will open their doors during the event which runs on the weekend of September 10 to 13 this year.

She was shown behind the scenes at Curson Lodge, the building on the corner of Silent Street and St Nicholas Street, the Unitarian Meeting House, and the Willis building – one of the newest Grade I listed buildings in the country.

She was also shown around the sailing barge Victor, which is also open on Heritage Open Days, before visiting Pykenham’s Gatehouse in St Nicholas Street.

This year’s will be the 21st national Heritage Open Days event – and Ipswich was one the first town to embrace the idea in the 1990s.

Historically-important buildings that are not normally open to the public throw open their doors for one weekend a year to give people the chance to see inside.

Ms Holloway said Ipswich would be likely to feature heavily in this year’s national publicity because the town had so much to offer.

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She said: “Today I’ve been shown some really interesting places. I know that it sounds like a cliche, but we’ve seen some real hidden gems and that’s what makes the town so special.

“For visitors looking to come somewhere special for the Heritage Open Days, Ipswich offers the chance to visit a range of different places. All very interesting, and very individual. I’ve seen a historic house, a church, a modern office block and an historic barge – it’s a fantastic opportunity to discover the town’s heritage.”

Ms Holloway said the compact nature of Ipswich town centre – and its easy access to the road and rail network – made it an ideal place to visit. “It’s not far from London, there are millions of people living not too far away, and if – like me – you don’t drive, you can easily get here by train and walk around the open buildings.”

The website for this year’s Heritage Open Days will be updated in July, at which point Ipswich is likely to feature heavily on the national pages.