Ipswich Town Hall gets ready to mark its 150th birthday with style
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town Hall is preparing for its 150th birthday with a major celebration at the end of the month.
It was opened on January 28, 1868 – replacing an earlier town hall that had only been built 50 years earlier.
Now there is a programme of events planned throughout the year to celebrate the anniversary of the building that has been at the centre of the town’s life for 150 years.
A public open day on Sunday week, January 28, will feature exhibitions, tours of the Mayor’s Parlour, a special twist to the annual Burn’s Supper and an opportunity to win a “community takeover” of part of the building.
There will even be a birthday cake with 150 candles.
Tea dances, guided walks, a Teddy Bear’s picnic and digitalised story-telling sessions are all planned as celebrations continue throughout the year.
The present Town Hall was opened by the Mayor, John Patteson Cobbold, in 1868 but the history goes back much further.
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It stands on the site of St Mildred’s Chapel, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book. In 1421, the chapel became a court and became known as the Guildhall or Moot Hall (council meeting place).
A new façade was built in 1494 before work started on a new Town Hall in 1818. Work on this building continued off and on until 1842 – but it became clear this would not be large enough for a growing industrial town like Ipswich.
In the 1860s the decision was taken to replace this with a larger town hall which also contained the town’s police station and courts as well as the council chamber and offices for council officials.
The Foundation Stone was laid in April 1866 and it was completed 20 months later. The cost of the building was £16,000.
The Corn Exchange, which is attached to the Town Hall, was opened in 1882 after its foundation stone had been laid two years earlier.
Ipswich mayor Sarah Barber said: “I am sure many Ipswich people will come along to the open day to celebrate this special anniversary and take part in the other events this year.
“The Town Hall is still one of our most important buildings and you get a sense of history here, particularly during council meetings which follow 500 years of civic activity.”