Papers are an historic find

COULD you be storing some valuable or historic items without even knowing it? Noel Wilson, the acting secretary of Ipswich Central Conservative Club, was doing just that.

COULD you be storing some valuable or historic items without even knowing it?

Noel Wilson, the acting secretary of Ipswich Central Conservative Club, was doing just that.

While searching for some documents, he discovered a box full of ancient papers dating back hundreds of years.

Mr Wilson explains: "We needed to find out the boundaries between our land and St Stephens Church so I went up to have a look for some documents and found a box with 86 written on it."


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"I was curious so I went and found key number 86. I opened it and it was like an Aladdin's chest."

The box had been left untouched for many years until Mr Wilson stumbled across it.

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He said: "The box used to be stored at a bank until 25 years ago when they started charging to store it. One of the members at the time decided to take it out of the bank and store it in the rafters instead."

The papers discovered concern the club's building in St Stephens Church Lane, which used to be a Masonic hall in the 1800s. Also included are documents concerning land in Needham Market and Battisford, with the oldest dating back to 1669.

Members of the Conservative Club were fascinated by Mr Wilson's discovery. It was decided to show the papers to the Ipswich branch of the Suffolk record office, which was extremely interested. They offered to loan some of their own archive material to add to a possible public display of the papers.

"Everyone we have talked to has said that they have something to loan, said Mr Wilson. "You don't realise how much there is until you actually go out and do it."

After deciding to stage an exhibition they needed a venue. David Stainer, manager of Ipswich tourist information centre, was happy to help, a display will be staged there for 14 days in June, 2003.

Mr Wilson said: "We are saying to the people of Ipswich: here is your history, do you want to see it?

"At the moment we are limiting the display to material relating to the Butter Market, Upper Brook Street, Queen Street and the Old Cattle Market area of Ipswich. We do not want to make it too broad at this stage."

The exhibition will aim to raise money for St Elizabeth's Hospice.

Mr Wilson said: "The hospice is the chosen charity of the club as we wanted to keep it local. Last year we raised in excess of £7000 for it.

"We won't be charging admission but we hope people will make a donation to the hospice."

Once the public has had the chance to see the documents they will be stored at the Suffolk County Council records office.

Anyone who wishes to loan any material to the exhibition should contact David Stainer on 01473 258070.

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