Ipswich: Freedom of the Borough recognises special deeds

The Ipswich Star's James Marston looks at what it takes to get Freedom of Borough. With the help of

The Ipswich Star's James Marston looks at what it takes to get Freedom of Borough. With the help of Ipswich Mayor Mary Blake and Mayor's Secretary Christine Christensen - Credit: Archant

Lenny Henry has been awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Dudley. But what does the honour mean - who’s got the freedom of our town?

It’s always a treat to have a cup of tea with the mayor.

They get out the silver and the nice china and the biscuits.

The parlour – a suite of rooms in Ipswich Town Hall – is where the mayor entertains dignitaries and visitors and is also where you can find some of the treasures of Ipswich.

Things like the town’s ceremonial silver, a large selection of gifts – some distinctly odd – presented to successive mayors, artwork owned by the town, and certificates commemorating certain events and anniversaries.

The certificates, artwork and artefacts are often linked to the organisations and individuals who have been awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Ipswich.

The current mayor is Mary Blake, a woman who has learnt much about Ipswich and its history during her year as the town’s first citizen.

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But it is the mayor’s secretary Christine Christiansen who knows all about the rights and privileges of the freedom of the town.

Firstly, there is a subtle difference that needs to be pointed out.

Organisations such as regiments, Christine says, are awarded Freedom of Entry to the Borough of Ipswich, while individuals are awarded The Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Ipswich.

Christine said: “It is councillors who decide and it is discussed and approved by the whole council. There has to be cross-party support.”

Mary said the freedom of entry into the town included the privilege of marching through the town with flags flying, bands playing and bayonets fixed.

She added: “Individuals can also graze sheep within the town walls though no-one has ever taken up the privilege.”

Christine said the freedom was granted to people who had done amazing work to promote Ipswich and the borough.

She added: “It is an honour for work done on behalf of the borough.”

Mary added: “It is such a rare award there is no set criteria.”